Mary Jo Bang: A Technical Drawing of the Moment & A Structure of Repeating Units

A Technical Drawing
of the Moment

Before the monument becomes remote
and unapproachable, a made-up anecdote
of easy adoration, pressed into marble
or a more modern plastic, let’s ask ourselves,
What is myth? And further, is it better
to dispel or debunk one, or instead
should we embrace the petty mechanistic
hope that invents it? We’re ridiculous, right?
Torn in two between the true
and what we’d so like to believe is true.
It’s exactly there, right where we keep our wishes,
that our fake animals act as a code
for what we think of as enlightenment. There,
a tiger’s faux hide pretends to be a pelt that says,
This was my life. And so it was,
since a symbol is nothing but an illustration
of obsession, concern, focus, and an atlas
of where one wishes to have been
or fears one someday will go.
Color can add detail to the expanse between
the short but bright beginning of an era
and a mottled much longer after.
History moves in under the glass-top
where from a safe distance we can watch it
become our keeper and contentious tormenter.
I admit to being frightened, or better,
ill at ease, with what I don’t know but can see:
the instinct for power that some people have.

A Structure of
Repeating Units

A lamp is a great gift, I think.
The brass tack ouch of a hand
to a hot bulb takes you straight to the top
of the threshold of feeling. A small plastic
object held to the cheek is also quite nice.
I love poly socks, dishtowels with rick-rack,
a surfboard anointed with one aqua stripe.
Idle want seems to dog me along a long cord
that’s plugged into the boot in the mouth
of the near recent past.
                                                              The plastic,
we both know, is nothing but a patchwork
of particles, a mash-up of atoms, petroleum
before or after it’s oil—but still, it means
so much more. Something finer than fine.
Like pearls bred from time and insouciance.
Or something like that. I turn out the light,
lock the door, lie down, brush my hair
from my forehead, and listen
for the cinematographer to say to the dark,
Just wait and the world will come back.
The terror I have, I keep hidden.


ART: Teri Frame, Line Kallmayer

FICTION: Matt Dojny, Jessica Halliday, Corey Zeller

NONFICTION: Brandel France de Bravo, Line Kallmayer, Ben Merriman, Nicole Walker

POETRY: Mary Jo Bang, Sam Cha, Ching-In Chen, Natalie Eilbert, John Estes, Jessica Fjeld, Margaret LeMay, Nina Puro, Lauren Russell, Dara-Lyn Shrager, Donna Stonecipher, Henry Walters, Kerri Webster, Betsy Wheeler