Virginia Konchan

Modus Vivendi

No, you cannot tutoyer me. You cannot mansplain
what it means to have an empty, or occupied womb.
The truth is not a personal attack. It's the truth.
An albatross is a weight around your neck, but it is
also a bird. Like wild boars, men are belligerent
when thwarted. Like gravediggers, they are
dedicated to death. Do we know ourselves
in doing, or do ourselves in knowing?
Is thought an extension of language,
or language an extension of thought?
This chemistry experiment is going badly.
How trite and awful, the affairs of the heart.
Is decorum the opposite of ferality, or is
it tamed, soignée? Language either bears
some relationship to truth, or is decorative,
or is used to control and deceive.
When I say language is happy, I mean
my utterances are felicitous.
When I say a plant is happy, I mean its needs
are being met in an optimal way. Do I need
a new hard drive or a new operating system?
What use is empire to a body's known world?
My father’s mansion has many houses.
My mother’s room has many keys.
I'm trying to have an attitude of gratitude
while doggy-paddling upstream
in an ocean choked by crude oil.
I'm trying to bring you, like a choirboy,
to your knees.



Virginia Konchan is author of two poetry collections, Any God Will Do (Carnegie Mellon, 2020) and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018); a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017); and three chapbooks, including The New Alphabets (Anstruther Press, 2019); and her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and throughout the US and Canada. She lives in Montreal, where she teaches at Concordia University.