Archive for the ‘THERMOS 2’ Category

THERMOS 2: Chas. Speck

It’s been years since Chas. Speck first gave us these poems, and it was a few years before that when we first saw his poetry in graduate school. Chas. is living in Washington now. Once, however, he formed, with Melissa and I, 3/4 of an Iowa Lakes garage band that played one show of covers for a friend’s birthday party. Think of these poems as coming from that place. — AS


I’ve given up on my brethren
The neighbors hog the bleachers
They bring no oil
Just murmurs and mutters
Bumper stickers for the mortuary
All that’s left of this bell choir
Dwindle into nothingness
You think your heart is in your hand
But when you look down
It’s just a shape the fingers make
Look at this shining thing
Stuck into your vein
Filling you with someone else
Transfusions transposings
Forget about lions or hunting
Doped up animals for trophies
Yesterday a 12 year old boy
Swung a sword
And severed a man’s head from his body
Where’s the irony in all this sincerity?
You’d think we’d be better
After all the cloning
At covering for our hurt
These people they want a garden in their lungs
They twirl like windmills
Spinning for power
Car noises keep me up under the bridge
Wishing for the drill of purpose
Screeching through its teeth
Why isn’t my life as easy to change as these words?
Isn’t it the same thing?


The floors are writing love letters,
why else would they be on fire? The fields of grass
panting heavily, why else
would they be steaming? Tell me,
how deep is the grass on the moon?
What can we mine there? The glow-in-the-
dark powder of God’s bones set to rest.
I can see the backlit stage of each half-lit star,
you walking through a river of hands.
Where a glass heart is heated
the windows shiver – Is this
what you call an oath, every artist
heedless with blood blooming from their necks?
I pinch the ten tongues of a wish.
Here comes whatever it is
in the middle of the ocean
the water is constantly running from.

New Face

Water falls into your eyes as you put on your new face
Even a dead dog smiles
You cut your mouth open so you can breathe again
No bruises on your skin though
A shadow floats over your shoulder like a hungry ghost
A table made from flowing water
A robed woman bound in the basement with the toy dinosaurs
The dead resting her head against an anvil

A shadow floats across you and stops half way
You feel her breath against your scalp
A bruise you’re not familiar with
A hole in your chest you could reach into
That dead woman
You thought you were to bury her in such a hole
She unscrews your skull and out pops a fruit bowl
She takes out your brain and out snaps the hand she left behind
A hand shaped like an ampersand
She rests your head between the open jaws of a vice clamp
The most beautiful thing you will ever see is your own two eyes exploding

Making Minds

In the process of making our minds we broke them,
separated the shell from the beans, ground them,
subtracted the oils and extracts and found
there were many minds waiting to be made –
the pulp anxious to be a box, to contain, itself
a series of shells broken into smaller shells.
Then the breaking became sequential – each mind
containing something larger than itself – our arms
turning the gavel so as to wear evenly
the forged form, mold the right angles, twisting
like tops spinning in our shoulders – a piston
pumping through the waves of our being –
but stop. Were our energies not perfect?
Were we bludgeoning down to nothing?
I saw you across the table staring at your
reflection in a plate, the same you
and nothing between us but a hum, a tone
striking the strings of our minds.
What had you assembled there – some altar of breakage,
some commandment? Did I suddenly
know nothing, or had it been this way all along?
Who could remember the density, the sweetness
now lost as breaking can be, becoming more lost
with each new mind made, the same lost
only more abundant, the original fruit.


THERMOS 2: Janine Oshiro

The incredible tension and precision in Janine Oshiro’s lines have always cut straight through to the poetry receptors in my heart. Her book, Pier, which won the 2010 Kundiman Prize (and is available here from Alice James Books), is one of my favorites of the decade. These five poems, all of which are in Pier, originally appeared in our Spring 2009 second issue. You can check out her 2009 interview with us here. — AS



Of the Place

I say I, I
mean it, am
the evidence I see
on your face.

Hands of the place and your body
Foreign is your
temperature I set

to cool upon the inside
of my wrist.
Now that I say my, my hands
in darkness don’t seem

a bolt uncut
by light.
Steady, chest.
Pulse wake.

You rise to bear my consequence.
Stutter of tongue I catch
and load with what
you can’t

release, I move you
to the fourth
corner. Your lip
the first day of a freezing lake.

Contiguous meaning you
push against
my hands impassable, push
me certain into being

your vaulted ceiling.




Having not seen it
happen but knowing
it happened

a black snake
crawled down my spine.
Something but what is

wrong. I make my desire
for the rain to stop visible
by stacking three flat

stones. I make my desire for you
not a marker of direction.
I never saw

the wasps alive I
never saw them fall but the floor
of my house is

covered with them. Because
asking is kin
to knowing. Please

will you reach
your hand into my back?
Get it out.




Heaven is a prop that the stage
hands erect on stage before
my brother and sister descend
from it to invent the world.
My brother and sister existed
before the world. They brush off
praise for eyelashes and cuticles
and look away when I say
my brother, my sister.
Who am I to say my brother?
Who am I to say my sister?
The stage hands’ bodies dressed
in black appear seamless against
the dark curtain. The hands
that draw the curtain shut, open it
with the same mechanical button.
My brother, my sister, I am clapping
my hands to welcome you to invent
the world I am dying to enter.




I fashioned an acre, made moderate
the interior.
Pinned in the crickets with their decent clicking.
At the end of July appeared one animal.

I mustered up a mountain for a view.
The opposing houses shone like
straightened teeth.
They were two storied,

the second ones forthcoming.
At the top of each staircase the door was unlocked.
Inside each house lived one
obedient daughter.

I put the daughter there I put the daughter there.
Not a window cracked its milky
reflection of the clouds. The glass
bowls on the shelves were nested as proper.

I expected the animal to introduce
the next disaster. Its mouth was a cushioned entry otherwise
unpronounced its abundant legs rambled proposing
no use.

I kept an eye on the animal and nothing happened.
The mountain blistered and popped into its plural.
I kept an eye on the animal.
The sky remained, where it was, distant.

The obedient daughters kept their houses neat.
The animal remained the animal except
with ears alert, unrecognizable.
(Sing) My eyes leaked spilly spilly all the way home.




That white place is without ghost.
Having been there once, I want to return
to violets,

part through their umbrella clump
of leaves
as my hands divide from prayer.

In the white place I tried
to draw a horizon.
I wanted days, minutes, a distance to seek,

a resting place
for the sun to mark the time. But the horizon was
all wrong.

It came out in a child’s hand and I was
not a child.
I had been waiting

in a hallway before the white place.
I was not alone.
I had been waiting for my mother and she came.

I kept the time by her going.
I prayed for her return and I prayed for her
return to the dead.

The hallway had walls, a floor
to kneel on.
In the white place I was alone.

Without even her, without
even ground
to pull the stems from.

THERMOS 2: Alex Walton

Alex Walton’s poem with oranges has always seemed like a gift to me, something handed over after lunch and thereafter always available at just the right moment. — AS


New Oranges

Does each orange contain a mite? Or more than
one? How many mites form a colony? Is there a particular
“orange mite” and what are its adaptations? How long
is gestation? What is a gestation? Is this a salutation?
A diversion? What are the nourishing effects of the “Spanish
Orange?” What is the most superior recipe for marmalade? And
are all of these true oranges, or are some of them fakes?
(Trompe l’oeil increases the amount of reality in the world. No?
Or something else entirely?) What is the lifespan of the mite
compared with the orange? Do the mites have names? Do the mites
have a name? According to the sign, this mite has been named for
Otto von Bismarck – it is the Bismarck Mite. It is special to Austria
but here it is, in Spain. Some animals are migratory; some
are not. A magnet in your brain is one good reason to travel,
providing both an initial impulse and a guiding influence.
One may also travel in the name of unrequited love, where requition
is withheld at least in part by insufferable distance – insufferable distance
is different than impartable closeness. The latter is the case
of Romeo and Juliet, and Tristan und Isolde as well as in stories
of divine passion for the human stuff, and in Roman Holiday.
And it can rarely be overcome, since the lovers
are victims of “circumstance” which is not
surmountable by transportation—e.g., a sea plane
plus alpine skiing, or a brisk walk across
interceding hills— Transportation takes many forms,
and though it is not a distinct sign of “human difference,” since even rabbits
have been known to form crude snowshoes, and I have one time
seen a zebra ride another zebra for a number of miles,
certainly the internal combustion engine, and roller skates
are sufficiently peculiar to provoke a state of agitated interest,
in pursuit of some evidence of our own pecularity as a form of
“beast”; certainly the pogo stick is a sign, in us, of beauty
due to some great excess in the proportion (probably
of the brain, though perhaps of the esophagus, larynx, or spine)
which is a formula of Poe explaining, unintentionally,
why the golden rectangle is inherently more pleasing and
“popular” than the square, though the square
may be more “perfect,” the division of its side lengths
resulting in no sprawling fraction. The awake and literate may
take Poe to be contradicted by the recently
produced fact that according to the average opinion
(normalized for some strangeness in the statistical proportion)
more faces averaged together, “composited,”
into a single face, result in a face more of us
would love to love. And yet, a truth doubles back! Since the Lover’s face
suddenly visible across a sea of hors d’oeuvres and other faces
or the sense of it or the sound of its voice across a literal sea
of other things entirely (sailors, blue crabs giant squid, uncharted islands)
seems effective directly by its opposition to those other people
and things which intercede, for which one’s hair does not consistently
stand on end, nor stomach fill with what P.G. Wodehouse
called the intolerable screaming of the butterflies.
But some mysteries remain, and several thrilling. To be clear,
“unsufferable distance” is better refracted through the Odyssey,
at least from the perspective of Penelope. Another story, entirely,
may occur for Odysseus, since his own cargo, being bound up
to the washed mast of his heart, is borne everywhere but Ithaca;
but one may ascribe to him a virile kind of homeward
magnetism, similar to what is found in birds, and yet
to do so may be disingenuous to that brave scientist
who picked first apart the small magnetic node
of neurons in the birdbrain which compassed
swallows homeward—call it the “ferrule.” Call it
the little carrier. To travel even for the sake
of a good fruit may be valuable, since oranges may
be plucked from the tree without great damage
to it: in fact, a pleasing thing is to eat fruit, since it proposes both use
and delight but no great harm for Nature;
since for someone to carry the seeds is the most honest purpose
of a tree’s fruit— To be carried out into the world! In order, each thing
is carried by another, and maybe it is closer to home, then. Bismarck
Mites may be carried to Spain, which is not their home; their home is Austria;
“Who knows if this red string is ‘home’ in this nest—
maybe it was more at home in the ball of yarn!”
This is not a statement on aesthetics (not of the bird,
and not of the yarn) but on the way we see ourselves projected
out. “Look, this tree has a sense of home. It stays put.” No,
a tree is not migratory! “My love of home is a tree, then. My love of coming
home is a bird, then.” Well, perhaps. But I am ever
venturing somewhere unfamiliar—a territory, a Boston Tea Party. Out into the world
I say I have gone to get a new roll of tape, or “Surely
the hardware shop can sell me the new blade for this saw,
and so will I put an end to the stubborn tree.”
or “A new life awaits me in Austria or Kirkuk or
the Polar Ice Cap— I have only to seize it.” (Perhaps
this last is left on a note.) Like that, I have gone to get
new oranges. As these mites are carried off
into the universe by the oranges for no reason other
than the indiscriminate love of a live thing for every other
shaking and variously lightning-struck animated cell
I am bringing these oranges, which are the new oranges, home,
or towards home. They contain the Bismarck or perhaps
the von Bismarck mite; which it is, I have forgotten, but
I believe the mites will not endanger your body or soul
but may perhaps enlarge in you the possibility
of (at least) parallel universes in which not exactly but nearly
this occurs, perhaps the same words in a different order,
and even that world may be filled with doubters
and the great cosmic sneer of sarcasm
which even in this our own world, vast American
persons are needed to fix; which I am coming quickly now
towards fixing. Here: a sign,
explaining that it is not too far off,
and in fact since I am running, it will not be so long.
To know mathematics is a worthwhile pursuit
since it allows one to formulate the world into knowns
and unknowns, and unknowable unknowns,
and even to rank infinites, which is a superhuman
task. In truth (continues the sign) amid all this fact
what is needed today is a beauty not of the averaged
face at all, and a sweetness and light
not to be found in the heavy world of fact,
but something else completely.
And for that, there are these oranges.

THERMOS 2: Mary Margaret Alvarado

Each day this week, we’ll feature Mary Margaret Alvarado’s work on this blog. These first poems, two of which later appeared in Mia’s first full-length collection of poems (Hey Folly, published by Dos Madres earlier this year), originally appeared in our second issue, late in 2008. I neglected somehow to publish “First Hector, then Achilles, then Troy” on our old website at the time, so it makes its first web appearance today. Here’s to Mia, and a week of her poetry! — AS



[The Chapter of the Merciful]


All morning, birds fall past my face
The pretty bald babies are sunning like ducks

Who is the master of the 400 Sadnesses?
Let her let down her braid

I have had occasion to slip pears from their skin
I put the pears and my palms deep in great vats of wine

Ginger exists, ginger exists, ginger exists
But what’s killing me about these tapes
is that I can hear the cellist breathe



First Hector, then Achilles, then Troy


Here at the school of charity I'm chopping a carrot
   and failing again.
	         Hosea named his children
	            The Coming Destruction,
   Not Pitied, and Not My People.

                                    Remember when Chicken Little got it right?

                    At the cathedral,
	           night of the smash, we sang
    the Mass for the Dead.
	           Man in a Suit blew his nose
  on his sleeve. Beautiful Blonde would not be
			                            I was at the drive-thru liquor mart
	           when we bombed back. They played the sad music
          on NPR.


                                                          (Old film decaying. The old film
                                                               on fire--gangrene, time-lapse
                                                                         azaleas, electrified flies).

Everything changes in light.

                                                 Dying into a morning,
                                                                                  or a dialectic,
             BlackBerries beamed LOVE and luv,
                                                                            e-mail arteries clogged
                                            with the stuff.

                    Adored bones were bunting
                                   loosed across fields.

Inside the inside
of a being going,
                                                                  even the capillaries quiet.
                       The push.        The pink dilated world,
                                                                       the sudden stellular sight.

1st Guard, waving magnetic wand: What America needs
                                                                                   is another wake-up call.
  2nd Guard, sorting my bag: Does this pimple cream work?

         Somewhere in America a pet mealworm is eating its oats.
Somewhere a girl of means is pulling it out by the roots.

                    (Inject the un-
       memento mori in the crow's feet,
                                                                     at the eyes).

1st Clown: What is the human condition?
2nd Clown: Terminal.

Somewhere in America the airbrushed moons are glittering.

           What I meant to say
   about the crickets is that they never stop. What I meant to say
                                   about the ocean
                                                           is that it doesn't--.

                                                                              (All the times
                                                                             we were to die
                                                                 and were preserved).

   Who says
                     the world isn't salted? I'm salted
             as jerky, you're salted as boots.

                                      Who promised you lavender pillows?

                                                  Gala Apple 4133 is, says its sticker,
aromatic and sweet.

                                           The detainees
                                                          stitched their mouths shut
                    today. That means they can't speak,
              Won't eat.


Through pool-light
easing the flanks
through crenellated
pool-light a bead
a bead, kicked
long lit strands
To love my love
in a chair
to love just
walking around
It is a fierce, a fearsome
a stern, it is
like when Anna
took the two-day
bus to come burn
dinner all week long
like when, in an apron
she pumped the jams
Here comes another day
in which people carry bags
& empty trash cans roll
We move
from spot to spot
to get better
electric reception
The bed floats by
through the grove
of come over
to the seaside resort
of let’s hope
Is brown sugar
broiling on
winter’s roots?
Are roots chopped thin
like some moons?
At the museum
there’s a blue
chalk horizon
over which
glass disks
in variance
How the crenellated
& the sent-
light goes out
how the weave
I wear my rot
bones, loose-plaited
seep bones
mineral drip
How the lit gets in
where vertebrae warp
is a stern, a fierce
that out-sprints
death, had my lap
to be in
heard a piston
or a valve

THERMOS 2: Jennifer Denrow

Here’s another of the poems I’ve spent a lot of time with over the years, from our second issue in late 2008. Jen Denrow subsequently published this poem as the first section of her book, California, available here from Four Ways Books. She also talked to us about the book, here. — AS



Forget your life.

Okay I have.

Lay something down that is unlike you:

Sold boat, Italian song.

I’m losing my head over this:

this is what the doll said when you pulled its head
from its body;

all the girls laughed.

I’ll move to California. I should
go alone. I’ll go

with the knowledge of fake
snow. I’ll ask my father to bring me.




I liked it better
when my fingers
were people.

I should drive away from my life.

If a man comes through town on his way to California, I will go with him. I don’t care who
he is:

if his wife is pretty, fine;
if he is returning to her, fine.

A man should be going there today,

at least one man; this city
is so big.

When I’m in California I’ll go to the beach
and cry. All of the seagulls will crowd

around me and force my mouth open
with their wings. One

will bring me a fish. I won’t be able to leave them.

My fingers
aren’t people

I forgot to train them. They were over watered. They drowned.

There isn’t a steeple, no alderman discussing the loss.

That was a hand-church;

that was my folly.




My life in California will be inspiring. I’ll send postcards to people who didn’t know I was
going. I’ll even send postcards to people I haven’t talked to in years.

I’ll buy a guitar once I arrive.

I’ll audition at a local club to become the nightly entertainment.

I’ll say, I can do anything you need.

I’ll show them card tricks and how my dog can talk.

I won’t have a dog.

Everyone will laugh at me.

When it’s winter and the woman next door needs to borrow some change for laundry, I’ll
call someone and say how unhappy I am.

I shouldn’t go to California then.

No one can be alive there.

The store windows are just so the owners think people are alive.

I’ve never even wanted to go to California before.

I should leave now.




I went to wake up my husband to tell him I was leaving. He said, Why do you want to go there?

Because I have to.

You should fly then.

He won’t let me borrow his car.

My car doesn’t have AC.

I know a guy who should be driving to California this week. I check my email to see if he
has written to invite me.

He hasn’t.

The computer says the right person is out there waiting for me. It asks for my name and
age. I tell my husband to make a profile on a love match website and I’ll do the same
and we can see if we are compatible. He doesn’t want to, so instead I ask if I can
talk in his mouth andhe lets me but says it tickles.

Later when he wakes up he’ll say, What was all of that about California?

And I’ll say, Oh nothing.

And he’ll say, You’re pushing me away.

And I’ll say, Probably, but I don’t mean to.

He’ll leave for work and I’ll spend the day listening to my favorite musician sing very sad
songs that will make me want to go far away from myself.

I’ll go to California then.




When I went to the backyard,

I said to myself,

this doesn’t look like California

and nothing in my life does

and my husband says he’ll have to deal with this forever.

I want to go so bad I clench my fist
hard in the air, I push my finger into
his chin and cry: it feels like this, I say.
I need it this bad.




I realize now that I’m a woman.

I go to the store.

I buy California style pizza and beer. I drop my ID when the woman asks to see it.

No one in the store looks like they could be from California.

A baby eats some keys.

I buy a magazine with people from California in it; they are all very beautiful.

I come out of the store and the sky

is filled with many white clouds

that could be stand-ins for California clouds.

I don’t even have a tan.

I know this is the only time I’ll leave the house today.




When I get home my husband sees me balling my fist and he scowls at me. On the radio is
a story about a woman who walked from California to New York. She was 80. She says we
don’t have a democracy.

I need to arrive at something.

Now there is a story about a thirteen year old boy who is dying. He tells the reporter not to
sit around being miserable. He gasps for breath.

He won’t ever be able to dive into a pool.

He is a beautiful child.

He is dead.

He told the reporter to always let someone in line in front of him.

The next story is about the Unabomber’s brother. His mother kissed his cheek when he
told her about her son.

She said, I can’t imagine what you’ve been going through.

If I was in California, I wouldn’t be listening to the radio.

I write California in the air.

Another story comes on about a man who built a cork boat.

I bring up images of California on the computer; there are three million to choose from. I
set one as the screen saver. It’s a yellow map of the southern part.




Instead of going to California I make my husband a ham and cheese sandwich to take to
work. He doesn’t like the way I place the cheese on the bread.
When he leaves for work I sit in a quiet house.

I told him I couldn’t have this life.

This wasn’t me living here.

I was living in California.

He said cruel things that he knew would scare me.

He brought the ring from the cabinet and tried to put it on my finger.

I said no.

I said I can’t be married right now.

He said this happens every year.

He may be right.




My mother took me to California once when I was very small. We visited Disneyland. I
wore Mickey Mouse ears and had my hair in braids.

I wasn’t afraid. No one talked to me.

On the plane ride back the stewardess offered us soft drinks.




Once on a plane a foreign woman offered me fruit.

I declined.

This was when I was older, after I’d already been to California.

When I was there, I wrote my name in the sand. I wrote my name and drew a heart and
then I wrote my mother’s name. This was when she loved my father so I wrote his
name too.

We were visiting my uncle.

I see a picture of him holding me and laughing.

He’s dead now, so I can’t visit him there anymore.

He had diabetes and drank a lot and died alone in a motel room.

My aunt said she received a phone call from him after he was dead. He groaned a little and
said unintelligible things.

He lived in California because he was in the Navy and had to live there.

If I lived in California, I would buy an iguana. I would meet a lot of nice people; they
would make kind remarks about my decision to follow my intuition.




Leonard Cohen went to California.

He went there to become holy.

I could become holy in California. I could live in a small room with only a little light.

My husband says I can rent a car if I really need to go. I tell him it’s not the same. Why
doesn’t he ever feel something like this? He just doesn’t.

He lives in this house completely.

This house could be the problem.

I suspect that I’m the problem.

He says I want to abandon our animals; he says I’m crazy.

I don’t feel like I’m crazy,

I just feel like someone who wants to go to California.




I just remembered that I do know someone who lives in California. He’s a man I worked
with several years ago. He moved there to make movies.

We made a movie once. It was a horror film that took place in a movie theatre. We worked
in a movie theatre.

Our dialogue was poor.

I finally gave up.

I fell in love with the manager. We had sex. We laughed the whole time.

This was the first time I had sex. I was twenty two. He didn’t love me.

Later, I realized that I never really loved him either, I just pretended to so I could be sad
about something. He was very charming and said funny things. He never took his hat off
because he was going bald and didn’t want anyone to know. His girlfriend was very sweet.
He made all of the girls love him. Even the prettiest Mormon girl loved him. I started
taking a lot of drugs so it didn’t matter that she loved him. I saw them kiss and felt

He is the kind of man who could live in California.

He had a very fast car and a lot of friends.

If he lived in California, he could be a politician.




On the television I saw the President in a fast food restaurant in California. He was buying
a cup of coffee for a reporter. Someone went to get the coffee, a recently new citizen, and
when he came back and tried to hand it to the reporter, the President pushed his arm away
and said, I’ll handle that. He took the coffee from the new citizen and handed it to the
reporter himself, and then he took some folded ones from his pocket and handed them
back to the citizen.

He was trying to be real.

He was trying to look like the kind of person who wanted to be in California.




If California didn’t exist, I’d still want to go there.

As I look around the house I think of things I’ll take with me.

I pack my bags.

Before my husband left he asked if I would be here when he got home.


But you’ll be gone someday.


Will you at least leave a note?


The last man I left got a note. I didn’t leave him for California but for my husband.

He was an angry man. The note I left was filled with a lot of statements about aggression
and happiness.

After I left, he went to California for an art show. He married his ex girlfriend. I knew he loved her the whole time he loved me. I didn’t talk about her. I let him have her in silence.




My cousin calls. She tells me there are only 363 days until the new Harry Potter movie
comes out. My aunt gets on the phone. I tell her about California. She tells me about a
man who lost his leg but can still feel two toes fall asleep.

The reality is that…

My aunt talks like this.

She says his leg is not really gone. That’s not reality. She tells me how Christ replaced
someone’s ear.

I hear her daughter in the background asking to borrow some pot. Here, but make it last, I
don’t want to go back over there in two days
, my aunt says. Back over there is to the house of the
man with one leg and phantom toes.

When I was a teenager my mom would put extra pot on a cheese plate that had a mouse
cover. She would say, it’s there in case you need to relax. I didn’t need to relax but I still took
the pot. When my friends came over I said we had to smoke in the garage. This was a lie.
I don’t know why I said this.

My aunt says California is a little far, but she could pick me up in a few days and we could
go to Chicago.

I am suddenly terrified to leave the house, but I tell her that will be fine.

She probably won’t come. She usually forgets to do things like that, so I don’t worry too much.

We talk for two hours. She tells me how frustrating it is to get laid off three times in four years.

She applies for nine jobs a week.

No one calls her back.

She says perhaps if she was in California it would be easier to get a job.




By this time it’s apparent that I’m not leaving for California today.

The street light comes through the window like a forgotten angel.

I should go to sleep.

I’ll leave tomorrow.

If I’m lucky, I’ll meet someone who’s going there.

THERMOS 2: Michael Comstock

Reading a poem by Michael Comstock is one of my favorite ways to spend a minute. Even a very old poem by Michael Comstock. — AS


Home Movies

They come calling, they who

mystery. Very aware of the light

doll, the house where we all

recycled dates. We all create

clock, a number of notes called remember

thunder? It followed

church. If there is a second chance

enchant her, write back in bliss




I repeat hit
the tiny
of the sky
says a friend     oh

the sky       How

I repeat hit
blink                  A sun
Leaves out, flowers

out You are sporty
dear Drumming

circles     This appear


The Internet

This is hello, a towards-crown motion of hands. Hello, this is
just to say hello world why. This is Steve: Hello. Older gals
need lovin’ too. Sure. 
Terry: Why not? Care
to share a story? 
Steve: No, I… This is “Hello”
by Lionel Ritchie, and this is hello in each of the official
languages of South Africa. This is hello, your smile
gets my heart pounding [sound f/x:
fangirls screaming]. This is hello.pdf.
This is hello, I don’t know what I have to do
with all peace, and this is hello
hello, a super software
from which I am posting hello, like I am
like hello a little green halo.



“I Can’t Be Me” going out
the opened window with

the day’s hey
blowing in.

It’s afternoonish I don’t notice
the planes spaced out

for LaGuardia. Live on
how many dollars

a day? Move close
to water: Gowanus

or Greenpoint wherever.
No more March

April, just a lot of Mays
I swear I’ll pay back

next winter. X and Y
please move here,

hated friends
go ’way.

THERMOS 2: Lauren Haldeman

Today we re-print four poems by Iowa City’s Lauren Haldeman. New work from Lauren will appear soon in the forthcoming THERMOS 9. – AS


We Who Were Guides at the Oldest Estate in Virginia

We who were guides at the oldest estate in Virginia
found ourselves parallel
at five o’clock in the evening.
Each tourist left with a path in their bags.

Earlier, your tooth grew a branch. A rainbow avoided me. I was sad.
I could think of nothing better
than your sweet-bread & quicksand. It was enough
to simply picture your jacket.

All the chimes on the porch, one by one,
started swinging. Behind the photograph,
a figure approached. We could see him, still –

still near the treeline. Locusts. Humidness. Humidity. Gross.

No one can say we did not give our best
standing in that giant bag of crisp air.
All ashor…but who was going ashore? We measured ourselves
as the only ones left.


Courage Courage Courage

Black-hole-view from the center-of-the-earth:
The circular grave begins.

I dreamt an orange balloon, exhaled from a well,
Greeted the horses cantoring past our hatchback,

Their eyes, a necklace of marooning fronds,
Flashed like travel pics taped to the valley’s lampshade.

Waking, I concentrated on a single post in the woods:
Counting its wavering perspectives & angles

As an ongoing want rumbled rocks smooth inside me –
Inside this box I made for you.

There is no boon but the world’s colors you told me, how
The waterfall drinks in all four dimensions –

You told me to tell you I loved you enough
To believe my hands were holding a magnet.


Expo of the Ash-People

The ash-people hover
above the tendrilled living tunnels

of our expo. They’re the hollow us,
filling up: our ashes sucked

into their moving bodies; their bodies
hoisting away our fears, turning

a fire-wheel into another fire-wheel
nailed on a dogwood’s mirror.

We don’t go insane. Sometimes we step
so deeply into sanity that the birds

swallow up their singing, backing
into the cat’s bright mouth. These things

that carry us are not scary – just
our days, our hours born

from their own memorials.
Faces still enter the air expanding,

our cheeks grow, full of backwards hellos;
our houses still stall their motors

in the backyard’s almost horror;
the relegated shed and its mechanics

of dream, shoveling steam
into the camera’s one nostril…

Ash people they are, sketching
blueprints of themselves

on the light-shaped lovemaking
that wallpapers our brains, as

they wait for the motorcycle
to compost below us, a glowing box

of endless forgetting – trust me: they
are our friends. Watch as

they bite off their heads, exhibiting
milky underworlds through

the acorn’s pillage.
We’ll never get it – until

worn by them, we pivot and
enter their ultimate ultimate expo, hovering

all pristine & see-through above them,
strung to their shoulders, balloons of

past odors, collecting their dust
as they sift into time –

one passed-citizen
tied to every ash-person.



This is the place we pressed on the porch screen. The tower opened up
its fan-fold of sun. Wrestling, we became both knife
and accordion. Saying your birth date got me there faster. While

you’ve been away, I rub grease-clouds on postcards. Today it is Thursday.
Tomorrow is Thursday. I drop a stone in this rum, call it evening.
A squirrel near the oak-stump digs and forgets. Typically

we’d just hook our pinkies together & our minds would stay unchanged
for one hundred years. But there aren’t enough fires. Just a smudge-flock
of starlings – specks on the x-ray of the one chance we get.

THERMOS 2: Maggie Ginestra

These poems of Maggie’s appeared in our second issue. Maggie Ginestra has taught, stage-managed, and directed theater in Gainesville, St. Louis and Atlanta, and studied poetry at Washington University. -JT


the plush room the beachy the soap room
the cock room the horse would stand very
very still room the never lost a spouse room
the delicious room tucked away some quiet
guy off the street selling driftwood covered
in dollar store the potential there he saw
next to fancy lamps someone will want
to rescue the walls grind & spill orange
sand little piles of time we brush off
when you buy still the hot glue hooks
hook the sun down again its xmas
he says and looks me up & down aching
my ears                       who bought
that cabinet in the back all those quiets
untucking in my arms i’m too young
in the middle i climb a column & hunker
god spray some roomspray the calm one

Dolphin Lovin’

bed too soon to the floor
no time for ideas
her socks still on her feet
how old show with fingers
weight of ocean keeps them
barely moving keeps their
desire whole better keeps
unrelated questions
bodies part of the bus
over waiting around
her crush made her tourette’s
worse better not a song
bridge sometimes a puncture
bridge sometimes a suture

Armpits of Old T-Shirts

black a stack of yellows
that i can have my turn
flapped my arms in the street
mom helped her swallow it
drove her home game over
bridge wet with butterflies
i float you over it
thank you thank you thank you
car wet with butterflies
reach over wipe my face
to one day be without
ending up in restaurants
we’re not quite here
waitress, we’re not quite not