Four Poems

by C. Derick Varn

Pixel Decay

In these abrupt times, abhor the vacuum,
But map the fractures while you seem to
Be waiting for an apocalypse. I remember
The train station in Seoul, waiting on
Tender hooks for nearest passenger car
To Kunsan, the yellow sea reclaimed
Mudflats, on the south bank of the Geum
River, and and the woman who picked me
Up at an illegal tattoo parlor where
Soldiers had memos of too much soju,
Kimchi and pungent ammonia-tinged
Local beer carved into the calves.
Before I lost something more
Than memory, sleeping on with her
In a one-room apartment, sharing
A shower head over a toilet to clean
Of the smoke of the Hof. Now I pour
Myself black coffee, repatriated and gnawed
On until we have little but the grizzle of words.
I think she married a Pakistani man, and
I tried building my own church from the ground:
Most of the temples are made of bodies anyway,
These dark spots of the universe have grown
In proportion to some dark algorithm waiting
For sexposition to explain the variable. Someone
Asked why someone decided to make a manual
About sex which obviously meant taking a break
From having it: I can’t forget until my mind dies,
But the memory breaks down faster than bodies.
Nightfall has its clean-up, neurons, their forest fires.

Demiurge

Law is boldly asserted
And maintained until
Statement becomes argument
And it is all there is. Taste
Of salt and sugar feels like
Kissing but looks like cocaine
Or house dust. The memory
Melts like old cheddar, a bit
Too soft and sharp at once.
Abstraction becomes flesh,
The word becomes noise, according
To our Gospel, there are signs
And signified, lack of lack of
Lack. We know only what
The thing is not. There
Are birds on the coast.
There are herons on shore.
There is the oil-slick sheen of
Crows with rain-wet feathers.
What a phantasmagoria we
Have constructed with grammar:
Even nothing conjured
Into something so the sentence
Has a subject. Law is just
Boldly asserted and maintained
Until we forgot we shaped form
Ourselves.

Errata

Can we build the world of subtle
Seduction out of emojis or romance
But expansion of tumors along underside
Of the skin. Fractious and half-exhausted,
Like the soil after a two or three summer
Brush fires, which the local celebrities have
Lost their McMansions from. The attempts
To be relevant always date us, immediately,
Like springy gray hairs coming out of outgrown
Hairdo. The frivolous gossip is oddly satisfying,
Though its mostly embittered sophistry. Nothingness
Comes from another common nothingness:
The void has diversity quotas to fill, and sex
Can feel like meaningless production of social
Forms—air, matter, fluid, pixels. The elements
Of our bygone age. Time turned to face Sodom
But was already salt, so nothing lost. My most
Amazing graces are all running from child-support,
The blindness creeping in like tendrils on chain-link
Fence, choking out the blackberries. Sweetness with
Thorns like fishhooks—rip the flesh to taste the juice.

Pacts and Passages

After we broke apart and scattered, we entered
The medieval Bible-illustrations ornate wilderness,
The trellis of mountains, sloping over deserts, seas
Parting in 15th-century desert guards, letters illuminated
With dragons or killer rabbits, armed with halberds, attacking
Ancient Israelites, but now we all have black and white
Geometrics, not even fully arabesque, on the background
Of our documents, assorted, correlated, and stapled. The
Chiaroscuro indicates that we have lost something more
Than words. I put my hand on your forehead, watch Cygnus
And Aquila in the summer triangle, marking the milky way.
There may be no royal road, no rite of passage, and all
Things past remain steerage. We close the book and wonder
Between the pages, noting this or that font masking as flora
And fauna. Cool air seems to bend inward, a soft nothing,
Like the dot of an I or a misplaced comma that should have
Ended the letters we wrote to each other. Should have.

 


C. DERICK VARN IS A POET AND TEACHER NOW LIVING IN SALT LAKE CITY. HIS FIRST COLLECTION, APOCALYPTICS, IS AVAILABLE FROM UNLIKELY BOOKS. HE IS A POETRY REVIEWER FOR THE HONG KONG REVIEW OF BOOKS. HE ALSO READS THEORY AND NONFICTION FOR ZERO BOOKS AND IS A PODCAST CO-HOST AND CO-PRODUCER FOR SYMPTOMATIC REDNESS AND ALTERNATIVES.
HE HAS SPENT MOST OF THE LAST DECADE IN SOUTH KOREA, MEXICO, AND EGYPT. HE TRAVELED WITH HIS PARTNER THROUGH ASIA, TURKEY, AND MEXICO. HE STUDIES THE HISTORY OF SOCIALISM AND ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL MOVEMENTS.
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