Poetry / Carolyn Guinzio
:: The Better Part of an Hour ::
The plane was bumping across the sky so we raised the armrest between us and tried to find meaning our neighbor’s Jaguar was a symbol of meaningless consumption but my expensive purse was not it’s the interruption you see they say it takes twenty minutes to recover from each one and they seem to arrive twenty minutes apart if you timed them as though they were contractions you were born in a storage closet because no one believed it was really happening no one can ever really grasp that it’s happening because it isn’t at least not now the screens all began to blink and we’d been sweeping our eyes over the sea of screens where the means of coping was general all over the plane with gradient changes in tone between superheroes and friends but it did happen once and then it happened again the nurse screaming James can you hear me in his face and no one ever called him James only Jim or Jimmy to his parents to his sister already gone and his brother now gone but everyone else said Jim and oh love I have not always been good to you but I feel the life in your arm now your hand and we are a we and the screens are static in their light
:: Where One Breath Ended and the Next Began ::
Listen: The field looks like a field, but water is flowing through it—ghost water shuttling grains of red earth. Two of them at a time make a micro- scopic glint in your beam, mirroring the faint heads of Gemini. We use light to tether dirt to stars, fashioning meaning out of the barred owl we didn't know was watching. Listen: Two mortals facing off behind the field. Behind the water, the sound of talon or of tooth. A yellowing hook moon sank or swung to another bit of exhalation- heavy sky, the smoky case of our sphere. Someone will pick up where another left off, catching a breath as it trails away into not nothingness but being.
From the writer
:: Account ::
These poems are part of a multimedia project about borders called Fault. The sequence, which received an Artists 360 Work-in-Progress Grant, consists of poems, hybrid writing, short films, sound experiments and photo-collages. From the start, my intention was to explore the idea of a border in many senses, not merely political or geographic borders, and the absurdity of drawing a line between one thing and the next. I’ve seen ants defending territory on the smallest of scales. Grains of dirt are kicked back and forth across the line.
The pieces are concerned with borders best described as philosophical—between human and animal, earth and sky, sky and space. Is there a specific second, when the heart stops, that the line between life and death is crossed, when one second ends and the next begins, or are things more fluid than that? Like the border between reality and memory, perception and reality, between what is actually occurring and what you are thinking about as it does? Some of the pieces in the project are meant to reflect the cacophony we contend with in our daily lives and how, no matter how open one wishes to be, something must be built to foster focus and comprehension. We live as if we’re in a room with many people speaking at once, and if we want to hear any of them, we have to block the others out. The poems attempt to cling to a thread of meaning amidst numberless attempts to work the mental grasp free. From square inches of earth to galaxies, they are trying to confront both beginning and end from a sphere suspended in the unknowable.
Carolyn Guinzio’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, AGNI, Harvard Review, Bomb, Boston Review, and many other journals. Her sixth collection is How Much of What Falls Will Be Left When It Gets to The Ground (Tolsun Books, 2018). Among her previous books are Ozark Crows (Spuyten-Duyvil, 2018), Spoke & Dark (Red Hen, 2012), winner of the To the Lighthouse/A Room of Her Own Prize, and Quarry (Parlor, 2008).