Kirsten Kaschock

If I Make a Piece

about brothers and sisters I would not name it
Sibling Revelry : our fun is no game.

Four dancers dance. The fifth dancer is none
and runs. Runs hard and far in thons. Runs
wide loops yet keeps touching down in faith on earth
of stage—this time called family.

One of the dancing is an ever-kicker, a little can-can
who could. A happiness engine.
If she ever gets used up, I will kill him.

One stretches himself across the horizon.
He is there, and then he is there.

One poems.

The final dancer moves tauter, totters
into shrinking cycles until the rope
knots but is not yet noose.

The piece would begin clay-colored and naked
as any hand-holding Matisse and end
as Rodin’s Burghers of Calais: hard bronze into its pre-grieving
absent one of its sacrifices.

There is always a shadow
brother—one who, massless, escapes
the weighing in, the lights.


all the mothers, in movement, will fold
          stirrings into a large bowl. Some of them
      will turn against you. Take turns turning

: turning from task to task, turning the ground
          beef and the onions, the root vegetables, turning
      into winged creatures, witchbirds, into the sky

turning in on itself—its immaculate night. You
          will never see them rebecoming, not their re-
      turn, not their rising. These women are bread

you will not eat. Everything that matters occurs
          seconds after the curtains drop. Because I failed
      soufflé. You can ask our mother—

ask her: egg, not yeast.


a piece about myself will not be.

It will not concern itself with myself. Also, not
exist. These are the nonsubstances I mean to

balance. The work will be an alien
invasion: Rosemary Now or Bébé

Apocalypso. I’ll do the Montezuma move
where pale monsters climb into your walls

as if your body were stilted hut or prayer
or pixie-cut. Is your body apropos?

When I make pieces, I colonize, settling
myself beneath. I, palimpsest. My heart—

darkness. This is why it is called a chore-
ography : the duty or drug you take up to flee

your limited frame. Even here—I write you.
Which, in this case, means cinema. Means

daughter. The beginning of a girl fraught with
absinthe. The color of radioactive riverwater

in an origin story, that flickering tincture.


it could be piece of personal negation—moving like others
in order to identify, find like—only to collide with the no-
           ing: no, not that, not you. What if all one can be
           is what-has-been-rejected? What if negation
is constitutive? What if I have decided to foster snuff
ballets whenever possible? :to rescue this stone
           heart with the clever death of birds, less
           dance than fable, or than wind, its milling.
Coleridge once wrote that allegory translates
notion into picture—which, because it is also
           an abstraction, is worthless—the former
           shapeless to boot. He confessed: Art gives
body to the unbodied. Jesus, but isn’t that it
precisely? To catch those illusory bits of down-
           out-of-the-air! To sew them into satchel
           to support a single dream of not-dead-yet
bird even as the thing—Christ-pillow, endlark—
grows sodden with nightsweat! I enter the hunt.
           I sniff out the appropriately-sized pain
           —pain the dimensions of a windowless
house (theater). Staged is ever-pulpitted—every
praise-dance, a prison. Coleridge smoked
           opium and once unwelcomed a visitor
           from Porlock. No one can convince
me proper nouns are not dirty, not
composed entirely of metaphor.


all art is made in opposition to
being, undivine. To say beggars be-lief—
that page in god-books. To dance, I’ve heard
is to pray. But hands folded are useless

without weaponry. Angels—aware—
carry. Swords. If wings, then wings
are beside the point. A masterpiece
need only draw upon itself (revolvering).

This is how it out-lasts. Words used to get beyond
words (avow), bodies outrunning the body.
(Outré.) And yet, still-ly, to last can breed
a diabolical numbness (as angels know and can’t

help knowing)
                                            : this is the poverty of angels.

Waltzes, even tangos of angel make damned
boring watching. No genitalia is not
their problem with the real. Plastic—
they don’t smile. Gods forbid it. If gods.

It’s not the flesh. Angels bore because
they are pawns: pope-drills, players barred
from interpretation by infallibility, perfect as
cyborgs (perfection being a null set). Angels

contain nothing else accidentally, nothing
by doubling. Nonandrogynous, angels
do not waver, having no motion if not
constance. In pirouette, their spinning is

ceaseless. Drill-popes. Always they erase
the way they are not actually there. Sawn
dust—though one never sees one.
Angel, etymologically : made of blur.

If I make a piece about them, I am
proved. Doubled, more-than.
To make, I must be in pieces.
One need not dance a god but only

shoot it. Reassemble. I am under the film
now, all things streaming. I will not have to live
this life, if I deliver a moving-enough
carcass—and this can be accomplished

with maggots. The sound of resurrection
is that of larval maw. The angels within—
I hear them and they are glistening.



Kirsten Kaschock, a 2019 Pew Fellow in the Arts, is the author of four poetry books and a chapbook: Unfathoms (Slope Editions), A Beautiful Name for a Girl (Ahsahta Press), The Dottery (University of Pittsburgh Press/winner of AWP Donald Hall Prize), Confessional Science-fiction: A Primer (Subito Press), and WindowBoxing (Bloof Books). Coffee House Press published her debut speculative novel—Sleight. She teaches at Drexel University.