Will Cordeiro


Again the baths are running
              or maybe they’re only laughing
where logic’s turned white

noise. Hallways ricochet soft
              thunder. Each voice is counterfeit.
Needles serpentine crewel-

work our young failed suicide
              keeps stitching—every second
thought’s a fruit embalmed in

juice. Our afternoon’s used up
              without a lick of booze. The young
widow stares at the mantelpiece,

which must mean something,
              must. The few returning
from our garden (plump

pumpkins whose faces now
              collapse; stiff weeds gone limp
in beds) lift sheets and fall

to endless sleep. The harpist’s open
              eyes resemble sucker centers; her shock
of hair, like brainwaves leaking.

Lockdown at five. Faint rusted
              wires. Warped chain-links catching
dusk. A chill. The pill-pink flakes

of paint along my toenails dust
              as I pull up my starched, stained
sheet. Florescent lights seem injured;

the trees, unnerved. A bored nurse
              blurs on waxen floors. And cursed,
each gurney squeaks. One fat,

last housefly twitches on the sill.


All the people were life size, even the dwarfs. Do not—do not, I say!—finish reading this sentence. Now we have a “situation” on our hands. Oviparous as language, as anything expelling eggs from its hole. Then a rain came to wash away the scent of rain. A great line of ants wriggled into and out of the inkpot. Windows conjured us translucent. Sputnik and spattered, every bijou a catchall. A twist-off. Offshore or outsourcing, these were merely some of the variant texts. While the health inspectors no longer termed it a smoke break, the dancing bears went on bumming their cigarettes. Blips at the checkout, bleeps on the newscast. Nonetheless, an effluent flubbing around. Yup, it’s halfway between a grape and a raisin—feel it yourself if you want to. I should have specified: like reading Gombrowicz, that kind of squishy. No, more like the illegitimate stillborn of mathcore and screamo. Do-nothings thumbing their noses, docents tsk-tsk-ing. A murk-making muck-about, that’s what he was. Notable for his attached earlobes. Salamandrine and twitchy, whatever got eyeballed. Light like an avalanche, light going into shock. Splutters of doohickeys, spasms of gitchygoo. As the flat earth went bucking and buckled like a mechanical bull. Such back-and-forth -upmanship, all part of the game. These arguing mirrors. Dear hot-pants, milord, Mister Ass Master, O the jiggy-bit jailbait of jazzercise butt! You’re just another sheep poet, if you will. Afraid to merz up the dictionary. For we live, indeed, in a time of signs and wonders, no less at present than in the days of prophets. Stop with your deodorized blurb-droppings, y’ol’ goot! The violence is that the violence is most often erased. Buddy up with the pain; there’s a peen and a poon, one on each body. Now inflict such dialectic on your thoughts. Ad blitzes for those ticked off were on the uptick. “—It just, guh, pulled the wool right out from under me!” Icecaps that crackup, mantels dismantled. And what, you’re worried about uninstalled updates? See, I polished off another; I’ll take it to my masterclass next week. This-all so-called downheaval of curators, au pairs, and other factotums. Rural-ish realists getting medieval. So my therapist insisted, one stray look could collapse quantum states. Of course, the weather still mattered, residual rainfall, the wind chill and chilblains, the whole savage fallout, notwithstanding the chattering classes.


Will Cordeiro received his MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University. His work appears or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Copper Nickel, Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Fourteen Hills, New Madrid, Painted Bride Quarterly, Phoebe, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere. He is grateful for a scholarship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a Truman Capote Writer’s Fellowship as well as residencies from ART 342, Blue Mountain Center, Ora Lerman Trust, Risley Residential College, and Petrified Forest National Park. He lives in Flagstaff, where he is a faculty member in the Honors Program at Northern Arizona University.