Archive for the ‘THERMOS 8’ Category

THERMOS 8: Lucas Bernhardt

The last time I saw Lucas Bernhardt, we carried a damnably rigid box spring down a narrow, twisting staircase with a low ceiling, into a basement apartment in Iowa City. Lucas stayed the year, but the box spring, as I’ve heard, only stayed the summer. Now Lucas has a young son, named Walter. We’ve published some other poems of his, here. — AS

The Approach of Little Lord Fauntleroy

I think of prenatal development
in terms of the theory of expansion:
a moment, yes, but more so a cloud
of cells flung from one another,
finding their outward limb (and here
I depart from the theory) at the walls
of the womb, and forming
through reconciliation the skin,
through obligation the bones and veins,
through cleverness the flesh.
When analogy snubs up to the rod
and flops away, it lands in a lake
in preference to our boat.

A storm has gathered before lunch.
Dad points at the wind-rustled
waters by the western banks.
Rains like these begin
with some difficulty.
The real pleasure is in the water,
and a lake is a friend to mind.
When I found you in a collapsed basement
curled up in the sediment like a seashell,
or in a mountain church asleep and laughing,
or in a cell aboard a foreign ship aroused,
or in the chain chop house back kitchen,
or by the shade of a tent pitched in sand
or the stillness of a half-built subdivision
beautified, I kissed my hand to the water
and the water hushed my guilt.

(In the textured ceiling…)

In the textured ceiling patterned crops
and one strange divot.
In the romance, all that popcorn
moves like the ocean.
He seemed to me a smear near Calais.
Seemed younger the nearer I stood.
Organdy flakes in winds and high seas,
our crew chases.

Faces are fields, in one the confliction of seventeen.
The way an arrogant mind sets off.
The twitch of that mind, the motionless twitch.
Some faces struck.
I wanted but could not stop.

The Magnolia tree grew into the house
and its roots compromised the basement.
Having forgotten its question, it wrote a letter
that could not finish. Inside, it turned to her in bed
as a little daylight filtered through.


As an explanation the footballs
I should be happy to meet with.
Shifting as needed, blurring as needed.
Uncle James was streaks of water
evaporating on the way down.
When his son lost his mind
only said son was surprised
at first. Hills all the way
to the sea, and to the sea
our extraordinary strength.


THERMOS 8: John Craun

Poetry by New Orleans musician John Craun, from our spring 2012 issue. See also his long poem “Picks Up Lucid,” from our fifth issue. And look for a new album from his band, HAWN, in the near future.



The dead—all the dead—
are satisfied: their allotments—

the space allotted—conforms
                      to their whims—

they have whims now—
                                          they whisper,

                              we think,

              and they’re satisfied


and fuck youth this

we’re going back
and fuck that/enable this

time, paying
I turn…We’re usually
you know…A man

nice hair,       tux…?


I glimpsed the feature
through the particular failures
of happiness

the general, oxymoronic
cataclysm covered
which has to land somewhere,

so screens


              and something collapses
To anything around…

It was not firmly affixed
Your hair (What color?) rose-
colored, in this light…

Collecting birds. An eagle,
our eagle—see what I mean!—
                  through drifting leaves, drywall dust…

holds a comb or crumb


There. That must be news.

Continue; we have had time—
What a time!—and a little

Money What’s this?
                              Mid-priced luxury

And another terrace beyond


Of that time when I went to that place
and did not feel what I expected to feel…

I felt alone.
I knelt in the grass, wet grass, at night,
and walked all day.

Those were the last days for those shoes;
the knees held up.

That place still exists—I’m shortening
this story…People live there,

                                drive to school
singing, eat a diner’s food

off plain, worn plates, take a place


A voice can make it true.
Our mouths were both occupied.
Make what true? What?

While they were looking for you…
They invaded, invaded,

invaded. Looking, looking for you—
marching, invading, looking

for this, for that; the world,
occupied—already occupied
at the time—unable to resist

with whatever occupied us

THERMOS 8: Shannon Tharp

I first saw Shannon Tharp read at Seattle’s Richard Hugo House and, I think, mildly annoyed her by laughing with joy from the audience at the perfect, music-box quality, effortless and exact, in poem after poem. We drank wine together afterward and I apologized. I love her chapbook Determined by Aperture. — JT

On Decorum
                after Zukofsky

One. One.
See sun, and

think shadow.
Yet, in thought,

a love unclouds.
No empty bed

blues, as you said–
a kiss opens

We aren’t going

to sleep to sleep.

THERMOS 8: Caryl Pagel

Today we close out the first week of our two-week feature of Caryl Pagel and her poetry, with selections from “The Botched Bestiary,” included in Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death. Please check back all next week for more, beginning with a public letter from Caryl on Monday, ending with new poems from her forthcoming second book, Twice Told, out with H_NGM_N this winter. — AS

Those That May Disappear

“The body [was] first described in 1843. It vanished from view after that and was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in 1967. It is found only in Australia. The body is currently listed as endangered and a number of the populations are now considered extinct.” “The body from North America was considered…extinct in the 1980’s, but recently it has resurfaced. Little is known about the body, but what is known is very strange. It can grow up to three feet in length[,] and when handled gives off a smell like lilies. The body is believed to be able to spit in defense.” “A body has been seen often amid grim dregs and sediment.” “A body has been seen, at one time, lying on the ice. [There are] bodies of at least three different kinds: a long and shallow one, steel-colored, most like those caught in the river; a bright golden kind, with greenish reflections and remarkably deep, which is the most common here; and another, golden-colored, and shaped like the last, but peppered on the sides with small dark brown spots, intermixed with a few faint blood-red ones, very much like a body.” “There is no way of knowing the present location and conditions of these bodies.” “To be honest…if [one is] really convinced that a body is extinct, [they] don’t make a particularly strong effort to continue looking for it.” “But look. If [one] turns [their] eyes to the clouds they might be noticed.” “Bodies [are] dropping down [out of the navy,] blazing sky…” “They are no longer hidden.” “Will they come when one calls?” “Relegated for long eras to remote hiding places…[the bodies are] coming back to the light from the library’s basements…leaping from the capitals and drainpipes, perching at the sleepers’ bedside. Bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies [a]re resuming possession of their city.”

            COMMON NAMES: Basilisks, Chimeras, Dragons, Fish, Giant Palouse Earthworm,
                  Griffons, Harpies, Hirococervi, Hydras, I, New Holland Mouse, Pickerel, Sayers,
                  Species, Sphinxes, Trout, Unicorns, Vultures

Those That Require Warning

“Recall the bloated gray bodies pulled off [of] the bodies.” “Fat, half grown, with glossy dark backs.” “[Bodies are] looking to rid the area. Over a period of years, [bodies] developed obstacles, punishments, and a series of intricate studies. Blockades, barbs, barriers.” “[But,] the bodies [would] visually assess the height of the barrier and learn how to lower their bodies enough to crawl under without stopping.” “It was in the early 1970’s that the first of the horror stories about bodies appeared…In its various versions, the tale tended to tell of what natural…haters bodies are.” “The bodies’ massive onslaught spread terror down the forest aisles, and all mobile creatures [took] desperate flight. Bodies swarm[ed] into the air.” “Most bodies establish[ed] their initial nest in decayed wood, but once established, they extend[ed] their tunneling into sound wood…to do considerable damage to a structure.” “Bodies can have a wide variety of effects, with varying levels of inconvenience.” “Everyone says stay away from bodies. They have no lessons for us; they are crazy little instruments…incapable of controlling themselves, lacking manners, lacking souls. When they are massed together, all touching, exchanging bits of information held in their jaws like memoranda, they become a single body. Look out for that.”

            COMMON NAMES: Animals, Ants, Army Ants, Bugs, Carpenter Ants, Cockroaches,
                  Dogs, Insects, Pit Bulls

Those That Operate From Deep Space

“The waters of the brook lap and lap. They come in little ripples, over gray stones. They are rippling a song. It is a gentle song. It is a good-bye song to the body. The time now is when there is no body.” “Bodies spend a year in the river before migrating out to the ocean.” “There, the body does swim off in search of other bodies.” “But there are no bodies.” “But there are no bodies.” “[And yet…] goggles [are] curved to fit the body’s face, and ha[ve] a large groove cut in the back to allow for the nose. A long thin slit was cut through the goggles to allow in a small amount of light…The goggles [a]re held to the head by a cord made of body sinew.” “Whose body’s sinew no body knew.” “At this point, the body…entered an area of dead water, where the water remain[ed] rough, but the current…ineffectual.” “Bodies are found in all [of] the world’s oceans with the exception of the Arctic Ocean, and some…travel between oceans.” “Factors affecting a body’s speed through the water include: overall size and shape; the nature, size and shape of propulsive organs…the type of muscle powering these organs and the conditions under which they operate.” “One body will also…snorkel the surface and below, allowing that body to interact with the body who will accompany a body, all within a natural salt water environment.” “One body stood at the water’s edge and gazed out to…the [other] body…[It] imagined the body falling through the water, drifting until it lodged in slimy plants where bodies nosed its orange feet.” “The water was a dark blue unknown, so dark that it was almost purple. As the body looked down into it, [it] saw the red sifting of the bodies in the dark water and the strange light the sun made.” “Those who go in pursuit of bodies have always relied on their traditional knowledge, which draws upon legend, and is based on their own observation of facts such as the tendency of bodies, swimming in even, wedge-shaped formations, to reflect a pulsating glow skyward when the sunlight falls at a particular angle.” “Most bodies that live in the water make light.” “But what do they look for?” “What can just one body forgive?” “The way is dark so set [the body]/ on fire make [the body] a torch make/ of [the body] a torch in the distance.” “but how will the body see?” “The goggles are all fogged up. Every body burns lantern-bright, and one body can’t tell the living from the dead.”

            COMMON NAMES: Animals, Birds, Caribou, Dolphin, Fish, Ghosts, He, Hering, I,
                  Juveniles, Lars Porsena of Clusium (A Crow), Man, Organism, Orion, Plankton,
                  Rubber Chicken, Sea Turtles, User, You/Yourself

Those That Are Possessed by Nightmares

“The body did not dream of another body but instead of a vast school of bodies that stretched for eight or ten miles, and it was in the time of their mating and they would leap high into the air and return to the same hole they had made in the water when they leaped.” “The body dreamed that those bodies would resurface and follow the body.” “So close [would] the body come to the hull, that at first it seemed as if the body meant it malice; but suddenly going down in a maelstrom, within three rods of the planks, [the body would] wholly disappear from view, as if diving under the keel.” “As creatures who thrive in the deep waters of the ocean, bodies may represent deep emotions. They may also symbolize one’s own intuition.” “The body cannot choose its dreams. Nor does it choose terrifying visions.” “[In this case,] the body’s dreams couldn’t have been very pleasant. Not many pleasant things had happened to the body.” “And what separates the dreams of the body from a body’s dread–or its dead?” “The body will confess.” “One day…uplifting an axe and forgetting, in the body’s wrath, the…dread which had hitherto stayed the body’s hand…[it] aimed a blow at the body…At one point [it] thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire.” “In disposing of the…body…the same preliminary proceedings commonly take place as in the case of a body; only, in the latter instance, the head is cut off the whole, but in the former the lips and tongue are separately removed and hoisted on the deck…But nothing like this, in the present case, had been done.” “The truth is more startling.” “The image of a wild body [became] the starting-point of a daydream.” “A flagrant body in flight.” “All bodies watching.” “The body [had] a dream of [its] own. [It was] one dream. [It was] a dream of dreams.”

            COMMON NAMES: Animal (Black Cat), He, Her, I, Lions, Monster, My, Porpoise,
                  Right Whale, Sperm Whale, Whale

Those That Are Not Immediately Ill

“At the fork of the road there was the dead tree where bodies were roosting, and through its boughs a body saw the last flare of the sunset. On either side the November woods were flung in broken masses against the sky.” “[A] vine had grown body-like up and around the trunk, and it had grown so large it…half-strangled the small tree, crawling over every branch and shoot, until the vine and the tree were almost indistinguishable.” “Bodies there [we]re few and wretched, for they [we]re fed with boiled meat and boiled rice.” “In the dark of [the] night…bodies search[ed] the air for bodies, bodies scan[ned] the ground for small[er] bodies…and large bodies prowl[ed] about.” “Each body had its own way of managing.” “Bodies mostly eat small flying fruit found in the rainforests.” “Even more will search out rotten vegetation native to the area and drink from ragged veins.” “If the body doesn’t throw up that first time, [it] will spend the rest of [its] life not knowing which are the safe bodies and which are the ones that will make [it] sick.” “There are only a few important rules for a body to remember.” “If a bad body gets a body, [it] will weep…or take away the body’s whiskey, or hurt the body’s daughter’s bones…If a bad body gets a body, [it] will scratch [its] white paint with awls and scarifiers. The good bodies skitter and dance.” “The better bodies laugh.”

            COMMON NAMES: Bats, Blue Jay, Bugs, Butterflies, Buzzards, Cats, Horses, I,
                  Insects, Mammals, Megabats, Microbats, Mosquitos, Moths, Owls, Snake, You/
                  Your, Zombies

Those That Wish Closer Than

“If a body want[s] to know more about the body: bury the body in the desert so that [it has] a commanding view of the high basalt cliffs where [it] lives. Let only the body’s eyes protrude. Do not blink–the movement will alert the body to your continued presence.” “The body must learn what to look for.” “Three and a half inches in length, including the tail, the body is slightly more plump than most bodies…it spends a great amount of time on the ground hunting for seeds and small bodies. In an aviary it is steady and tame, more than reasonably hardy, and seldom fails to attract attention.” “A question: does the body whimper and pulse?” “[A question:] Could [a] body but ride indefinite/ As doth the Meadow body/ And visit only where body liked/ And No one visit Body [?]” “The body’s songs consist of a series of short trills mixed with rich warbles and occasionally high-pitched chip-like notes. Common calls include a strong pseet and a high, thin, tsii.” “[It was] discovered that th[e] body performs…choruses because of the peculiar conditions of ambient light at twilight, which allows the best contrast between the white badge and the surrounding background.” “Every body must discover the laws between foreground and background.” “To find the correct body, a body must learn to distinguish between sounds, as well.” “Vibrant sounds and vagrant sounds.” “[When] the sky [is] serene, the air perfumed, and thousands of melodious notes from bodies unknown…urge the body to arise and go in pursuit, [then, one must imitate the noise].” “A very loud, raucous, growling kowrrr-kowrrr-kowrrr.” “A rattling kerrrrr-eek, a nasal eehr, eehr ki-di-rrik, and one that sounds like quee-zika quee-zika.”

            COMMON NAMES: African Fire Finch, Artist, Bee, Birder, Birds, Cuban Melodious,
                  I, Insect, Me, Raven, Red Warbler, Species (Owl), Waxbill, Yourself

The Botched Bestiary Guide

The Botched Bestiary experiments are tethered to Steve Baker’s discussion of “botching,” hybridity, the pack, and assemblage in The Postmodern Animal, as well as to Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings, and Gilles DeLeuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. Other sources are listed below.

“Those That May Disappear”: “Top 10 Extinct Creatures That Aren’t Extinct,” Wonderful World Of Animals Blog, July 2008; Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; Chris Hayhurst’s “Life After Death: Some Species Thought To Be Extinct Are Being Rediscovered,” E: The Environmental Magazine, Nov 1999; Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”; and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

“Those That Require Warning”: Annie Proulx’s “The Half-Skinned Steer”; Lydia Davis’ “Cockroaches In Autumn”; “How Low Can You Go? Ants Learn To Limbo,” Science Daily, May 2006; Vicki Herne’s “Consider The Pit Bull”; “Fierce Onslaught By Day,” The Wonders Of Life On Earth (Time Life Books, 1960); “Getting Rid Of Carpenter Ants,” Pest Control Canada; Wikipedia, “Software Bugs,” 2008; and Lewis Thomas’ “The Tuscan Zoo.”

“Those That Operate From Deep Space”: Opal Whiteley’s The Singing Creek Where The Willows Grow; Wikipedia, “Goggles”; Aidan R. Martin, “Biology of Sharks and Rays”; W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn; “How Do Animals Make Light?” ^^

“Those That Are Possessed By Nightmare”: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea; Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; “Whale Dreams,” Bella Online; Sherwood Anderson’s “Death In The Woods”; Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat”; John Berger’s “Why Look At Animals?”; and Sylvia Plath’s “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams.”

“Those That Are Not Immediately Ill”: Ellen Glasgow’s “Jordan’s End”; Brigit Pegeen Kelly’ “The Garden of the Trumpet Tree”; Eliot Weinberger’s “The Dream of India”; “Spying On the Secrets of the Night,” The Great Themes: Life Library of Photography; “Bats! What Do Bats Eat?” ^^; Pam Houston’s “Three Lessons In Amazonian Biology”; and Donald Barthelme’s “The Zombies.”

“Those That Wish Closer Than”: Barry Lopez’s “The Raven”; Hank Bates and Bob Busenbark’s Introduction to Finches and Softbills; Emily Dickinson, poem #661; “Red Warbler,” Bird Songs From Around the World; “Owls,” Science Daily; “John James Audubon,” The Great Naturalists. Ed. Robert Huxley; and “Wattled Ibis,” “Boat-Billed Flycatcher,” from Bird Songs From Around The World.