Two Poems

Poetry / Patrick Kindig

:: fascinations: love & the basilisk ::

the eye opens toward it, feels
	its glossy edge

nudged. then: something
	deeper, an electric ray

in its veins, denaturing 
	blood. the eye

wet clay, the eye
	permafrost: earth
& ice & a waiting
	for spring. it knows

this waiting is
	a parlor trick: now
you see it, now
	you see it. look

away for one second
	& now you see it & see it 
		& see it.


:: fascinations: adorno/odysseus ::

a thing for	wood
	& leather	yes

the body strapped
	& stripped	down

he wants each hole

skull winebottling
	in reverse

what he calls	 art
	this desire	

to be bone
	& negative space

when the need	  comes		
	he is magnesium

touching water
	when it goes

he is magnesium
	one 	minute		later


From the writer

:: Account ::

When we say something “fascinates” us, we usually mean something benign: the thing we are looking at somehow attracts us to it. The Kardashians fascinate us, for example, as do car accidents and kidnappings; statistical anomalies fascinate statisticians, and James Joyce’s filthy love letters fascinate literary scholars. When we use the word “fascinating,” then, we use it in much the same way we use the word “interesting”—to designate that something catches our attention and holds it, that a thing invites us to look at it and to linger in our looking.

Historically, however, “fascination” has had much more ominous overtones. For the Greeks and Romans, it was linked to the evil eye, to the overwhelming of someone else’s will with an envious glance. In the Middle Ages, it became synonymous with witchcraft. There are clear connections, too, between antique and medieval understandings of fascination as an overpowering of the will and later pseudoscientific experiments with mesmerism and animal magnetism, as well as the clinical use of hypnosis to work through psychic trauma. In all these iterations of the term, there is some sort of collapse of boundaries—between sight and touch, between observer and observed.

These poems are my attempt to work through this collapse, probing the intersections between subject and object, reason and unreason. One engages with a figure pulled from the history I have just outlined (Odysseus as he appears in Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment); the other compares the fascination of a lover to the mythical powers of the basilisk. Both, however, examine what happens when we let our attention carry us away, when we relinquish our control and give ourselves up to the power of objects.


Patrick Kindig is a dual MFA/PhD candidate at Indiana University, where he writes poems and studies the relationship between fascination and American antimodernism. Kindig is the author of the micro-chapbook Dry Spell (Porkbelly Press, 2016), and his work has recently appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, the minnesota review, Willow Springs, Assaracus, and other journals.