Two Poems

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).