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Future Pastoral (Pripyat)

                                      We are nothing but a bit of solar heat stored up and organized,
                                      a reminder of the sun.
                                                                                                         —Paul Cézanne


the light was surgical, binding

hoarsely caesium


As by palace
or pool

As it sponsor


turbined on barefoot



There is no need to offer proof: some gestures are effective in real or imaginary worlds.

Born without genitals, born inside-out, armless, born without a mouth.

In this way furniture.

Like a world overexposed, a stage set.

Slightly metallic tasting.

Whatever lack of air, wherever the chunks of graphite.

Twisted by their own breath.



instead of splinters, certainties

the same indifferent sun

last tide, broken, floating loose

this midnight on a corpus

in spite of

how everything happens

partial hinges, clamps

without witness

exactly like a statue

the breathing number

the disfigured sky

you can’t interrupt




hand-laundry, the disfigured sky:

rest in sheer and locate



Or the depth of the grave, regardless

some dress-circle virtue

biting the hand till it bleeds

Or never walking

Or all that constitutes that deprivation

this strong, this healthy, this

Or those that don’t know how to pray, and also pray

Or the coefficient

And out of deference no one dares smile

Or a very high number, impossibly out of scale

the long wash, the liquidating

Or signing the shovel

Our Slavic modesty coming through




Whatever the coefficient for the leakage

crawling, rolling, or sliding
outside of its skull


in this way furniture

and in this way cruel numbers


the ether that supported the wave

grapht fimbriate,             shoreless

weathered in wire


Ask any questions you will


dwarf torsos
                         in a jar,

elbow for an ear
or this frozen tumor, yes

             in serial light


It proved empty apart from


in this way ceramic, inevitable

devoid of reason


and in this way abandoned mid-lever




It was whole new stretches and it was the prospect of a world dropping
away. More wolf than lion, more hyena

than either. Like a squint or a slight, the house itself a vegetal love.



because wedged between the weather and the obituaries

because sclerotic, baroque


                                                  because from the ground invisible, and because this
                                     blanket is a song


             because high corners & lush vegetation


             the salt fork

             floorboard seams


                         and because a museum of holes, because
                                      the creeping dose


a kind of necklace


                                      these pools too capable of remembering

because I envy the dogs and their shamelessness  


Mark Tardi is the author of the books Airport music and Euclid Shudders. A former Fulbright scholar, he earned his MFA from Brown University and is currently a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Nizwa in Oman.