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.