Apologia: Another Duodrama About What Can’t Be Said

A Poem By C. Derick Varn

Voice 1

A friend once told me
that my poems bleed
all over him: line breaks

that would kick in teeth
and metaphors that run
the pole ungreased

through the sterum. I
may as well be Vlad
The Impaler watching

the imagines twitch
as they slide slowly
down towards

the inevitable viscera
references and unwinding
sinew gives way to oak.

Notice how quick
the metaphor arms itself
and deploys the hounds:

I state at the points of
pencils on my desk and
ponder the staples strewn

about the Formica. Let’s
retract these claws, dull
the edges and ask

a crucial question:
does the deconstruction
of bodies differ

from destruction? Snubbed
out lives seem cliché, tilting
the whirly-gig of emotions

out of balance. I think
of the women who left
blood on my linen sheets

after the feasting of bed
bugs. Contractual ghosts
of fading memories

that stain sheets. People
are hard to build: bundles
of nerves, muscles, flesh

all of which move with faint
twitches. People are landscapes:
declarative, yet secret proximities

between cardinal directions
and the gradual unraveling
of movements. Averted

eyes mirror consciences:
owl and owl’s shadow.
What can one say about

tooth, claw, and broken jaw?

Voice 2

The pit-ash of the bonfire
of lilies and posies¸ flowers
popping like lupus erupts
on skin. Stupefying imagines
of noir dramas, the over-wrought
chiaroscuro, sensual with abstinence
and lack. If one asks you why your
poems are difficult, say “life is” and
point straight into the pyre.

Voice 1

So what of apologizing,
often confused with apologetics,
but both roots rot in the same
dirt. Where the Nicene fathers’
drunk on the sacrament? Did
they not realize that drinking
the blood of G-d breaks every
law of the Torah? But let’s
start again: assume heave’s
gas and space is all there is
with no sentience to put
in place the form of loss.
Yet loss splatters against
sterile walls, wrists chafe
from hemp rope, skin
flakes and becomes dust.
It’s not enough to say
what rots in Denmark
is ranker in New York
or putrid in Kabul,
nor can we speak
of disolation without
declaring, then giggling
at our own impotence
and posturing,

but the drab long to
know why chimps
and humans can eat
bush meat still quickens
even the most sluggish
pulse. How’s that
for a defense.

Voice 2

This is the questioning of interrogation.
This is cutting into the circulatory system
of the universe to watch it spread across
the canvass of matter. This is the poet
jumping rope with the axial neurons,
the slow pain of realization hitting with
each turn of nerve. This is you, the reader,
and I, the narrator, veering like mistrals
across the history of language and stopping
at the meaty wall of mortal residue, vacuous and
stunted. This is the declaration we
both want. This is the inability to make it.

Voice One

Either we have made our tribute to pain
or we have not.

If we have made our tribute to pain,
either we have watched the processional
and benediction or we have not.

If we have watched the processional
and benediction, either we have deconstructed
the question or we have not.

If we have deconstructed the question,
either we know no word’s dwelling-place
or we do not.

If we know no word’s dwelling-place,
either we have peered into the Babushka’s
center or we have not.

If we have peered into the Babuskha’s
center, either we have planted our
phantasms in the mire, or we have not.

If we have planted our phantasms
in the mire, either they will erupt
and kick up black earth, or they
will not.

If they erupt and kick up black earth,
either we have defended the blood
loss that birthed them, or we have
not.


C Derick Varn is a poet, teacher, and theorist.  He currently edits for Former People and is a reviewer for the Hong Kong Review of books. Originally from Georgia, he currently abides in Utah, but his nomadic tendencies have found him living in Cairo, Egypt, various places inSouth Korea and Northern Mexico.  He lives with his wife, and a bunch of books, and writes at night. He has published in Danse Macabre, Writing Disorder,  JMWW,  Clutching at Straws, Xenith, Piriene’s Fountain, Nebo, Yes, Poetry!, and many other venues.
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