Dolsy Smith: Seventeen


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Not unlike contemporary paintings, the
encounters we can’t touch we stare
and stare at, unable to slake the urge
to have what appears, with its cold
calculating series, bare other arms beyond.
Maybe because the backdrop of love, half-fledged
and fidgety, feels found. And the approach to the swung-
open door of capital acquaintance, time
and again, runs smack up against the perspective
lacking in our own unquiet connoisseur’s
desires. Like paintings, with others there’s no telling
what large nerve put them there, like weather,
which I’ll swear supplies our viscera with their most
pointed locations, their
stoked fire, their fiercely stirred and then
subsiding just as swiftly drift. Some, many, lit windows ride
only your dark island, how many times. When I
first caught sight, holding it out
like a ticket stub across the packed casual island or placeholder
jolting across the bright diameter
of the morning commute, rattling capital across
the vast sunken kingdom of light whose wake is not,
I swear, a prerequisite to the artist at work in me, only
your dark island encroaches on my childish
discretion with the truth. Only a prosthetic
employment gets me off. See, a wrist, sister,
as one might imagine, is a wrist is a sun-
smeared wrist holding out like a ticket stub
a ripe pear in the Anjou weather, held
gingerly, or a toy in the sun. Fuck

painters. They think that because they alone can
render the light primitive and keep pace with it they own
the look of things. I could have said, repudiate
painters—Apelles, what should feel? Adam
from Adam. Like a hand suddenly maudlin
across the vast sunken kingdom of light, the errant light
extends tendrils, holds out the wrong thing
many times within reach of the pure abstract
placeholderdom in us. It flings fiercely stirred and then
into lonesome fire a dish of peaches, and bruises
on some of the peaches; it has thrown many times
when I first caught sight into confusion, because it soon revokes
whatever it gives, like minarets, like the dark
circumference some lit windows ride at eight o’clock
in the morning; beneath the casement falling
across her small, jolting kindnesses it makes mute lightning
out of my demands. Live hands,
it is so hard to. I wear you before
and after the accumulated weight of work
and my demands.
                                                  Like paintings, they try hard
to pose as the flat darkness of fact or portents
or whatever you could write
to me about, and they impart their false music to the truths
we hold self-evident, like love’s cleft weather
and sacrifice and the indiscreet open door of someone
contemporary losing his nerve.


FICTION: Lisa Beebe, Karl Harshbarger, Lauren Johnson, J. Robert Lennon

NONFICTION: Matthew Gavin Frank, Deborah Thompson

POETRY: Melissa Barrett, Thea Brown, Lauren Camp, Sampurna Chattarji, MRB Chelko, Patrick Culliton, John Gallaher, Ricky Garni, Meghan Lee, Kristen Orser, slp, Meghan Privitello, Megan Pugh, Amelia Salisbury, Matt Shears, Raena Shirali, Dolsy Smith, Avni Vyas, Elizabeth Whittlesey, Nicholas Wong

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