Sarah Fox, Gail Lukasik

The Clinging, Fire

by Sarah Fox

"Fire has no definite form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright… Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine." — I Ching


"Fire is thus a privileged phenomenon which can explain anything … [Fire] lives in our heart. It lives in the sky. It rises from the depths of the substance … It is cookery and it is apocalypse … It is a tutelary and a terrible divinity." 
Gaston Bachelard, The Psychoanalysis of Fire


Buried at the bottom of fire is fire’s absence.

You will never find anything else, even

if you wait, or lavish the fire with a primal

kiss, or promise to stow it inside you

while fasting under the full moon; even

if you pray. Or even wax your subtle ego

to a fiercer luster, rub and rub and rub.

Later, you fall asleep in a flower while watching

a movie about a fire, and in the light

of day you wonder if you’re supposed to feel

embarrassed for witching the dance floor

at your own wedding, for disclosing

to the smokers of cigarettes and opium

that you felt flame shafting out of your fingertips

like torch lighters, like, you said, extensions

of your actual body at the molecular level,

and you said that you'd discovered how to sweep

dread away with your killer mudras—Pwah!

One smoker offers a card that reads WARNING:

Do Not Set Self On Fire. But you're high on cosmic

affirmation and forecasts of foreverness, and cast

a red vibratory insurance across the entire span

of night. Later still, you wake up at the bottom

of a pond whose skin flickers with familiar forms

that turn out only to be clouds. There’s no fire

at the bottom of a pond. The fish, too, vanish.

You inhabit the atmosphere of your living

room like a fish surfacing to suck. Outside,

an intoxicated stranger collapses and weeps

in the yard where there used to be fire.

He shouts at the sky: "I don't want to live

in God's neighborhood anymore!" Is he

crying? No, you think, he's just peeing his pants.

You go toward the door, to spook him, and trip,

as usual, over the cat, her white glint and wailing.

But then you remember that the cat has perished.

That was the night before your wedding.

You buried the cat next to the pond, her stiff little

blacked-out eyes left to linger—just in case—left

to suck up the last lick of sun, one last brow beating.

They say we desire containment, and that bodies

do not persist. They say raccoons steal our fish

and our fires, we just can’t see them. They're like dark

matter, phantom monarchs of the shadows. You see

a vase of flowers on the desk instead of your daughter.

You fear you've been too casual about biology,

too “experimental.” You flick your fingers to flint up fire,

but merely spit out a feral mist. All sorts of dazzling

objects are replaced by their negative—reverberating

holes like space cysts swelled with the pus of absence.

“Hello,” you want to say, “do you speak English?”

You remember a wedding, probably your own.

You had fire in the palm of his hand, in the blink of your eye.

At the bottom of every wedding is a burial. Even

the whimpering vagrant's been reduced to a scorched

outline in the grass. On the outskirts of every

sleep is sleep’s shadow, a residue your fingers

slip through reaching for the final words

that daily no longer exist. Looking for the lit

parts, the persistent face, the fire’s forgiveness

around places on your body you’ve never seen before.

Who will tell you what to do? “Tell me what to do.”

Before Completion


"The Judgement…if the little fox, after nearly completing the crossing, / Gets his tail in the water, / There is nothing that would further." —I Ching


We made it to the church alive.

See the rabbits fucking?

I am full of rabbit and have no edge.


But apparently I survive: feels like home

work. Breathing, my earth status:

rapidly unraveling. An other father


offers to embrace me (this is no

longer a church.) Unlike you, he's

imaginary. If he traded places

then you'd be imaginary instead.


Does visual matter hold steady? Am I

even a thought pattern? This is the mind

on drugs (fucking father!) Apocalyptic,

or "Heart of the House"—where?


It was just that I hit my limit,

I hit a nerve gasket

with that stupid sext! (Even

just one hit hurts).


He's not ever going to get a new heart.

(The heart of the matter.) I scan

for his vacant chest against my mind

static, imagine a severed

heart in somebody’s hand. If I could keep

the sight of him steady I would

stick my fist through the hole sawed

out of his ribcage to make a pretend

organ. Grind it in there. I’m in

a space jam. Heart trouble. And then,


the teacher said "inhale forward

into plank." She said “fill your heart

space with gratitude.” 

"This is our national joy.”

The imaginary father dangled

a root in my hand.

It felt like holding testicles—each

little tail a perfect whisker.

(Last time I dug up roots I hit


an ants’ nest.) Just getting hit one

time is not really such a big deal.

I am only in your fucking hospital

for the endorphins. They’ve got good

beds here. (I just took one


hit, for old times’ sake.)(I made it

to the hospital alive.) The solstice moon


pretends to be a cross in the sky.

It’s like the third eye of God

the boy, only rabbitlike. I’m apparently

in my yard. I transplant some peonies

over the ants’ nest. My hands work

better than a trowel to feel for the root

tails, snapping them up like a hem seam.

I don’t want to stunt them.

I want to hold the whole thing

in my palm like a live wet heart,

pulsing against my finger grip like a fucking

rabbit. Anyway it’s hard to get

to the bottom of it.

Wife Object


By the time my symbols reached the other

you, goldenly, I was elsewhere “reported threat,”

you know, quietly. I, unsorry & story

wise, wanted a snake. An exact right. Mine.

Her increased range over our little hole. This world

is made by clearing what I’m doing, watch past

doors cry open or break, sunlight not paying

any mind. Feeling fine, then I reach into

the cellar of my face. “Wait,” I said, “you said I was,

I was her.” Canyon… You always end up weeping

when I’m not around, always flaunting fake

symbolism knowing  words can be like that. Roaming

among used stones, tender mountain spirits, I recognize

which linguistic detainers I’m clearing, which rights.

Themselves are partly made up (by you) (Right?).

When I was a little girl a chunk of rock

was like that, like you: part emotion part dark ("chiasmus").

Fluid damp circles: not so. No exchanging

power through retaining wall. Place I slice open

if you say don’t. (Tell.) You, depicting as a church

nearly, full of naked submission. I said I

was afraid but I wasn’t. My own original

symbol’s better now, & cuz I don’t want to. I

keep searching the building for our furniture

& for Joan of Arc. I try to mine the goldbits of mine

vis-á-vis intersubjective homestead hoax ([love]

[nest] [ablaze]). But wife wind, like a detonated wing,

storms off with gold of me coiled so depressed

re: want more closer to alone—layers & layers. Diffuse

pathologies family-treeing all up in my business.

Your couch, your steeple, your Tuesdays at 10.

I future us another somewhere with purest thought.

You said “I have two wives” to someone, what did

you say? Am I not for saying to ever? Instead she’s.

My Sword Loves Me


Every once in a while, I give myself permission

not to feel. I'm always the one who's sobbing

and doing drugs. Emotion, addiction, why me?


Why glaciers and matter and the urge to piss?

Why blood, and why not blood? Why sleep, why

rocks by the sea and having to kill, and why does


the little lizard come up to me? I love you,

my ditch flower; I will go with you right now

old man. I'll be apprehendable any day.


I'll grit and bear it truly, I'll be fine. Love

to bleed when you bite into my beauty

tracks, my shame marks; my entire hometown


sang, "No, it didn't hurt. It didn't ovary

a beautiful boy, a beautiful girl, it didn't

switch into a hungry country." Cut.


You would be dead now that I've got the sea

out of my eyes. Yes I love to feel your karma touching

my gravestone, I'm as high as a kite.


But this your dream upon our nostalgia

for dead countries and other feelings

partially lit behind smoked glass


representing the heart (of the heart)

attack's circa Betty Davis eyes. Cream




is what I said. "I don't know how

it happened I always used to be so young!"

I'd Rather Be Here 

        —for Bill, Brett, Steve, Jess, & John (Green Lake, July, 2010)


During a lunar eclipse, a woman leaves a gourd filled with water in the yard

so that the Moon might wash her face.            


Lake and air lake and air

            lake lake lake MOON.


                        Pronouncing the name of something calls it to life


Voices initiate from stones, feathers pass

between us.


The lake late loosely translates

every sound we pour            down the throat of the moon.


Her head is found to be hollow in the back, filled with furry caterpillars that sting like fire.


We who'd rather be here while people suffer

and the planet blackens, while the moon

at the feet of the peoples' hearts drains out into wires.


                        In order for them to do their jobs, tools must be sung to and fed.


These secrets are among the secrets

implied by our vow to keep our fathers' secrets,

and our collapse, our lack of stature, underfoot of him.


                        Everyone on Earth has a mother.


The lake itself could be the healing act.

Fugitive moon cube, infraworld

dreamstatic permeating the dock where we gather

to admire each other, the lake churning and gulping below

us on the dock, our mouths full of moon gape.


                        She swallows the snake meat and it crawls down her throat. That is where her force is born.


The deer and the hummingbird connect us to the earth

in spiritual existence, the crow,

the poem and the weasel. Prayers


for mosquitoes in the bog and for the fears inside us.

            The force of the word can cure or kill.


We watch the wet webs sparkle in the dark.

We, who will die, are still alive, our pulses rhyming

with a body of water


and the celestial mechanics of the stars.


*Italicized lines from Incantations: Songs, Spells, and Images by Mayan Women (ed. Ámbar Past)

Landscape Toward a Proper Silence II

By Gail Lukasik


I                                   (Prairie           Shelter C)

With night slain
                                    red floods
the green lean of trees
                                                disturbing a prairie
horizontal that makes us hunch
toward the earth

what’s wild flowers
            in random creases
                                    beyond us
brown sparrow dart
                                    drape of monarchs
through leaves’ purple underside
ringed in the cars’ undercurrent
that tears across a blue stitch

the road side aches
            serrated edges of maple leaves
            draining green          beneath our tires
a bird refuses flight


II                     (The Old Manse)

Hawthorne wrote with the white
wall before him
                                    at his back
elms circling through a forest
hands at the window explaining
“Man’s accidents are God’s purposes.”
circle upon circle of leaves straining
to a red

“The smallest twig
Leans clear against the sky”
            Sophia wrote in 1843
with her diamond he answered
cutting the glass free
                                    of her, this red he could use


III                    (Prairie           Shelter C)

cars circle purgatorial rings
of the forest preserved
                                    satisfied autumn has begun
                                    somewhere else first
                                    they emerge
into the amber caution
of a traffic light
                        slowing to a red
                        they comprehend

IV                    (Interlaken Subdivsion)

The necks of new houses blot the cornfields. Roads no longer end
with wheat. Now the raw wood aches, it juts out in the winter
morning and soaks up the night’s snow. They grow closer together,
more alike as their bedrooms multiply. Deprived of difference we
thrive on similarity. It’s how we recognize each other. It’s how we
maintain this low pulse. What we see in each other’s eyes is each
other. One night I pulled into my neighbor’s drive, in the dark so


V                     (                       )

Houses built from the earth up
light seen but not
outside, the family becomes
a hearth as he walks out into
women                      returning to the blue and white
of a mind
            what Wright rejects is
taken away
                        a family grows up
around him prairie lit
                        he instructs the land to lie
flat as the horizontal cave
            “inside” he says
“we live inside”
                        when light is absorbed
walls thicken in
                        the caves at Trois Freres
with the ceiling touching
their heads
                        they emerge in
                                                to fallow deer, owl
                                                eyes, bison, oxen
here first
winding out
drawing the earth round
the house rises like a man
                        from sleep
Wright dashes the
                        land with stone-bending sky
against the stones where he builds
his walls the cool
summer warm
                        winter rind of songlight
the trail of some
one’s mind opening
                                    a flood of stairs stand
like a serpent the hall
                                                bursts into a hearth
where the family is abandoned
                                                again the house is built
around what he calls home
and the prairie moves past
                                                stones the color of
                        glass spun round light
held in
                        three wives
                                    & children in the panes
of design        look closely
where darkness cuts light into splinters
rays spring
                        into birds or
            birth opens
into a deeper room

VI                    (Altamira 30,000-10,000 B.C.)

daylight drains the fields
a red deer under her hand
wild ponies where the wall
begins night              time and time
again the eyes open into animal form
what she can’t explain created
till they burst from their mothers
the snake inside the skin
of its own making