Posts Tagged ‘Thermos 4’

THERMOS 4: Tyler Meier

Tyler Meier once saved a fruit tree by hitching it to his entire house. — ZS


Something like the inside of a matchtip;
so that all recognition is out on blocks
in the yard, so that one might try to use a box of lake water
as a copy machine. There is a future
that presupposes hickory
as a birthright, and to have that idea
drop like a sack full of pig iron
into the deep end of your forehead.
There is a way of being
in the world that is the world,
a way of being
the fish scale that keeps the ocean
out of the fish, and to behave that way


A plural forming in the absence of light

The way an anchor looks, falling through a sink

Then a woman smashing her face in a fistful of flowers

A moth like an aspirin

A permanence swaddled in walnuts

Leaves going back up into the trees

After, a space between things

A collarbone swimming into a shoulder

Light forming like a forest of mistletoe

Then a plague of violets

If by metaphor, you make a thing


How the cardinal looked like a coin toss,
then cornfield after cornfield aching
in the want posture, in the horizon
we erase from. Tragedy
always begins in the doorway,
and still we insist on doors, she said.
There are times I follow the car
in front of me very closely
because I don’t want to be alone.
I can swear the word for this.
Minor note of highway, eyes
the color of a wheat field going under.

In one picture, the man is trying to put
the apocalypse on his body, or give you
the key to his heart.
This is an impossible man.
Who wants to play the apocalypse?
Who wants to be his heart?


The things you cut in half and end up with twice as much. One way I tell you that I love you is in future perfect metaphors. I wish you were a refillable coffee mug. I realized that in the hug position one never looks at the face of the person they are hugging, rather at the world the person you are holding just walked through to touch you. No response is appropriate for that distance. I wish you were a lobster pot. Out of frustration I made a bumper sticker that said I will kiss you with my Iscariot mouth. A little competition never hurt anybody. Soon, there weren’t enough bumpers in my life. The night that came was a deep flower, and the stars were bees. We sang the ancient song. Then the salt ignited.


THERMOS 4: Gregory Lawless

Today we begin a week-long feature of Gregory Lawless’s poetry on the THERMOS blog, in honor of his new chapbook, Foreclosure, out now from Back Pages Books. Stop by each morning to read commentary from us and from Greg, along with some new poems. These first poems are from our fourth issue, which came out in 2010, around the time that Greg’s first full-length collection of poems, I Thought I Was New Here, was set to come out from BlazeVOX. We hope you enjoy the poems and the feature! — AS




I was swimming laps in the pool, snorting and huffing through the water.

It was cold. I was tired.

I wanted to get out and show my shame to the birds.

But, anyway. I kept going.

My wife threw her cigarette into the pool. You’re dying, she said.

The birds knew I was dying and stared down from the trees.

Hey, I said, thrusting my head out of the water.

I’m not dead yet.

I throbbed and kicked wildly, swinging my arms.

I’ve lived a good life, I thought, but really I hadn’t.

Bubbles poured out my nose like shreds of sky that didn’t belong in the water.

My life didn’t belong in the water, either, but my death was another story.

Waxwings, grosbeaks, little finches in the trees.

My wife just stood there, shaking her head.

Watch this, I said.

Look at me go, I said.




I fill it with water
and an hour later
I unscrew the cap

and pour out
dribbles of smoke
and sick wind.
I fill it

with curses and spit
and hand it
to my neighbor
and she says I’m not
falling for that

one again. Then
I plant innumerable

seams of corn
inside the canteen

and come harvest
I twist open
the top and inside
the villagers
are still hungry

and their scythes
are gleaming and sharp.



Exchange of Territory

I could not deem these Planetary forces
But suffered an exchange of Territory—
Or World—
Emily Dickinson

Early one spring, in what was left of the spring, I came across a gas station by the river.

Inside there was a mirror, sashed with ash and fine scratches, and a little cot, and the nubs of candles burnt away on a crate.

I made myself at home, if this is ever the case.

With winter, I thought, I would have to topple the shack, and drag the wood to a cave, and burn it there, in order to sustain.

But in the meantime, I would dream.

I would shiver.

And look out at the wick-colored world through the surviving glass and wonder.

But what was there to wonder?

THERMOS 4: Jeff Downey

These days, we feature Jeff Downey’s work at the end of every new issue of THERMOS. Back in 2010, when our fourth issue emerged, we had no idea that would be the case, but we loved these three poems. In fact, the last line of “Theca” is one of my favorite individual lines we’ve ever printed. — AS 
In Deciding

the forest is mature enough,
do we mean for owls?
Do we mean full maturity is
but a dram of the past?
We have toilet roll binoculars
and a nose for vanish.
A half mile away
a predatory tuft is caught
in the barbwire.
Putting on the agony,
putting on the style.
An up and coming boxer
called east shares his hotel
with an opera company,
plinking their twilight west.
It might be added
pyrocumulus clouds exist.
That fire can incense
its own lightning.
The untold trenches
leapt in such fashion!
We endure. It is innate to duress.
A white eggshell
which has never had to hide
in plain sight, we evolve
to robin’s sky blue,
to, who would have thought,
discretion. This butte made do
as a perch. This tree all that
chalked up to be. One washboard,
cigar-box, comb and paper
at a time, skiffle proceeds
from mere onomatopoeia.
Kazoos have a way
of taking shape in rubble.
No need to reinvent the wheel.
As Usual, the Church

proper opened its wrought-iron grille.
I yawned because of someone else.

Lime was sprayed on the roadside
varietals. The less I took in, the less

I felt my lungs steel into wool.
A lion eating straw? I remember my Sunday

school teacher venturing. By which I mean
we played jeopardy with passages.

The winners were given a choice of horehound
or blueberry rock candy. She was a candlemaker

by day. In her mind, it was a lost art.
It too was going the way of things corporal.

Her rock candy was grown on a wick,
for lack of any other string at hand.

All that had happened—a powder
magazine exploded and a ship burned

down to the waterline—was the boarding
of concussed windows. The law against

hunting turnstones took effect. We up
and moved, more rhyme than reason.

The first thing I did was climb the tower.
It was a late spring evening such as our winter.

If there were a sunset, I was cold.
Radish was a hue I would come to know.


Tomorrow we won’t talk about our rasp.
The wagon wheel effect

of certain of our nighttime aliases.

We know there’s still room in the pictorial
movement for us.

To be surveyors.
To stand atop a hill and divine

a sortilege of cinder blocks.

It’s not that we are prolonging our misconduct.
It’s that we are patient.

Grown is a tansy boiled in milk.
Scalding and delicate

with the same import.

When I was still unsure
whether ingenuity was best spent getting rich

or in living free from care, I went north.
I came to a square in a vicarious town

where the cobblestones were swept
unusually clean. The virtue of iron tire bandings.

Ragamuffins in a circle squatted
with their hands pressed to the stones.

I realized then what capacity meant.
A little osmosis.

The give in give.

We go to the discotheque precisely
because the fire marshal hasn’t sanctioned it.


In suspense, moral checkpoints
inch toward the remediable

hairpin and brook
no half measures, doubletalk of removal.

Of the partitions speech succeeds daily—
the epiglottis, punctuation,

ink on page, water in rock,
names—coming across those children

I was at a loss.
I was a whistle with defunct flue.

It would be hypocritical of me,
to gainsay the immensity

of attending to that which persists in dullness.

Having had runner’s side stitch.
Having been induced by

a cracked window to disquiet.

It would be like an acorn
warning of Mongols.

The futility of being already upon.

In the imagination of the fire marshal,

he is hosing down the roof
he is about to collapse.

A bandanna to wean
dust from stir, retort from heat.

We have a separate feeling.
We are now on our own.

In which case, as the generic credo goes,
we look for ourselves.

The active ingredient is everyone else’s.