Two Poems

Poetry / Virginia Konchan

:: Cinéma Vérité ::

Should nature be my profile photo
or my cover photo? Should I adopt
a mantra or tantra? Must I again face 

a heckling crowd or bad steward
of the earth whipping the one animal
entrusted to him? If so, kill me now.

Actually, I think I am already dead.
My brain is floating in formaldehyde;
my preferred pastime is staring at the wall.

But I am godlike at the typewriter, and I am
also a skilled movie critic; when the subtitles
or voice-overs are off, I know instantly.  

If brevity is the soul of wit, I am clearly soulless,
as I take forever to say anything, or get anywhere,
despite the ministrations of multiple seraphim:

it takes an army to keep me alive. I no longer fear 
mirrors, because I know who I am looking at; I am, 
surprise surprise, looking at me. Jesus Christ,

Superstar, are you just going to stand there and
watch me burn? I pegged you as one who preferred
a story to an anecdote, but clearly I was mistaken.

My sails are set for Death Valley, despite the flat
foreground and financial exigencies of today.
See above. See below. Move the decimal,

I mean decibel, two places to the left: then
you’ll know my worth, my value, my market share.
Love is a pocket full of kryptonite, extemporaneous

words spoken in the heat of passion, off the cuff. 
You knew me; I knew you. Let that be enough.   


:: Rapture ::

Lordy Lordy, check out this amphitheater:
there’s so much oxygen, I can’t even breathe.
And yet I noticed the performance has been 
divvied up into ever-shorter time intervals.
What’s with that? Do you not trust the span
of our attention, or is this a question of form?
Let’s get rid of the mannequins in the mall,
with their cold plastic nudity, and immobile, 
neutered sex. Better to be an other-directed 
idiot, like the misshapen moon, or a brutish
prick, mirror reflecting you back to me at 
twice your natural size. I used to be ardent,
used to break any window in sight if what
I desired was visible from the other side.
Now, I take melatonin to treat malnutrition,
but there is no pill for this sinking sensation.
Embalmed by the memory of your touch,
I wreak havoc with the trajectory of stars.
My modus operandi is auto-renewing,
yet I’ve grown rusty without god, child 
prodigy at the art of wasting, killing time.
Can’t you recognize an appreciating stock?
I put a spell on you, because you’re mine.


From the writer

:: Account ::

This poem series is from a manuscript-in-progress entitled Any God Will Do, begun last year in response to a sense of political exigency and a desire to write both into and against that. In it, I explore a revival of the contemporary love poem, in the legacy of such poets as Richard Siken, Thom Gunn, Marilyn Hacker, Jack Gilbert, Adrienne Rich, Sappho, and others. I invoke extreme states, such as rapture and passion, in the context of time, interested in the continuity between intense psychological states and lyric temporality, and also in questioning the historical association of the lyric moment with heightened emotion and a kind of temps suspendu. Fascinated by the traditions of different kinds of love poems, from courtly to erotic, I am most curious in exploring where the volta happens in a love poem, so-called love poems that turn on or contradict themselves (e.g., Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130), the impossibility of fusion with the beloved, and the figure of the beloved across time.


Author of a poetry collection, The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and two chapbooks, including That Tree is Mine (dancing girl press, 2018), Virginia Konchan’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and elsewhere.