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two poems

by Eric Pankey

The Boredom that Precedes the Rapture

Stripped of ritual, your gathering takes on the mood of a dinner party at which you are neither guest nor host. Stewed turnips weep into the mash potatoes. The cod is undercooked. You are about to speak your mind, but the words shimmy and dangle before your eyes like three or four wasps inside a revival tent. The woman next to you complains of a feather lodged in her heart. Her husband argues that memory, like an echo, diminishes over distance. You notice the pencil lines on the wall, which once marked their child’s changing height, have been painted over. Outside: blue nocturnal shadows, red twiggy remains of shrubs above snow. With each click of the View-Master, the scene changes: the dining room displaced by a thicket of whispers. By hearsay. By heresy.

Variation on a Theme by Francis Ponge

When a wildfire at last

Collapses, spent,

One considers the quiet

Modesty of stones,

How the present

Is at once ephemeral

And persistent.

After a poem,

What is left?

Words defined

In reference

To other words.


Eric Pankey is the author of many collections of poetry. Two new books are forthcoming, The History of the Siege and Vanishments, in 2024.


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