Caroline Chavatel


When we cannot sleep
it is as if the sky chokes
the room. Outside shifts.

The only place soft enough
to palm is a bombless field.

In the after, no after, no—

On the radio, static. Outside,
a photographer learning

what her hands might make.
Night tears itself like a cloud.

Outside shifts.

Daybreak: soft, forgettable,
the only hiding spot they’ll

never find, a room for
undress. Tragic, really:
the rehearsed pageant of day

in the city street, the hands,
what they forage. I get lost
in the squall. A bombless

field. The photographer
learning to form, to function:
the lie of a photograph

heavy in what it holds outside
its frame. When we cannot

sleep it is as if our

nightmouths shut, refusing
to open until light.


In this it resembles the old money:
America, some expired red
bank card, empty in its gold hoard.
I never signed the back. All the new
thinking is about money and how
to reach it and I read a study called
about successful artists who come
from wealth. To come from wealth:
like we are hatched from the dollar’s
crisp breast as children of this dark
machine. This argument is elegy
to what it signifies. I fight
with my friends over beers about
stipends and waivers so we can
survive in graduate school, in the
heat of professional development
and expert exploitation. We want
to be rich because plane rides
cost money. We are love animals
and distance is the unit that feeds us.
We talk like we know what’s coming
next, we recite blackberry blackberry—
On a Sunday in New Mexico,
I retrieve some old money
from a drawer to do laundry.
It is hot and dry. While I wait
for vacancy, I talk to J
on the phone about ethical
consumption and its impossibility
in this delirious state of buy.
We get naked like it’s our job.
I say to the street-side lamp, expose
me, like I would to a lover.
The washer is in use, cycles.
I keep an eye on my clothes
because my new neighbors have
a tendency to browse like magpies.
I tell J all relationships are
about loss and in this they resemble
the departing flight, the long goodbye.
It is always about loss prevention
while the machine hums like
a woodpecker in its rhythms.

Caroline Chavatel is the author of White Noises (GreenTower Press, 2019), which won The Laurel Review’s 2018 Midwest Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in Sixth Finch, AGNI, Poetry Northwest, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and The Journal, among others. She is editor and co-founder of both Madhouse Press and The Shore and is currently a PhD student at Georgia State University.