061.1: MC Hyland:: Here the top of a tower & Where are we going? & As though another country & we walk to the barren beach… & A bead forest within the river 061

As a poetic element, caesura seems relegated to misty forests and bearded, solemn storytellers. MC Hyland’s poetry demands that we reconsider the caesura in all of its strangeness, beauty, and danger. As absence, the caesura is many things: an awkward pause between insistence and response; a white gap between predication and discovery; the sutures of a shattered life stitched back together. In this generous selection of poems, Hyland incorporates the caesura to fit all of these roles. Her landscapes vary so quickly that one could be in a beach or a theater in the same line. Her words shift their senses, so that a sky’s darkening flocks.

Or does it? The space between darkening and flocking is larger than it appears. Have I made the right connection? Did I miss the birds? Hyland disorients us because her poetry is the space we skip over in life’s routine, a stubborn archipelago. Readers may hop from island to island, but the distances are just far enough to thwart the idea of bridges. Even her prose poetry—of which two wonderful samples are offered here—shines like a constellation refusing its legends. There’s darkness, thrilling and tender, which does not come easily. Readers should enter these poems knowing they will have to leap over the distances. These are not dark chasms, realms with dragons; they are spaces we forgot we knew and are very grateful to have rediscovered. Ryan Winet

Here the top of a tower

where we assume lie so many dead

the beautiful shadow hooks
over a cobblestone street     wet & conspiring

paler constellations & now a city loves me not

needles balance on our pedestals through a blowing smoke
the house standing in scratches & dust motes

the water parts from itself     lays down before the silver cord
brimming at the window      we see dice fall from an artificial hand

my life subject to your laws & yet translucent

a woman’s naked body or armor surface
white & inert by the axe

all hands dirt smudged as
the time of the bitter wave passes over the opposite floor

now ringleted coquettes throw flowers

one traveler like a silvered mirror
touches her neck & touches our mother

we crawl forward as serpents personae non gratis
lovely women melding into a target a pistol a wedding ring

how the body dis integrates     how we find ourselves in a car

men & shovels swarming like insects
as she exits his ceiling carrying a light the morning just     falls into

a pistol where her head should be

wires fringe the tree behind her
diagonal banks of soil     face the color of the sky resolving

down the ladder from the infinite curtains & panic we dry the sides of buildings
with bunches of false flowers

let’s write unsure & abstract nipples in the morning’s mandibles

flirtatious movements of the sentient tree

smoke from her nostrils & how we move through the night
& lurk behind the decorated man

rising into the air     over the moonlit Seine

o our curiosity in the pit of filmed actions
is why the snake answers the man’s bare arms

the pretty one releases a stream of dark blood
by a metal fence falling     affronts the mouth of town

Where are we going?

a hand on her thigh     not the first one but waiting
& there as the clock ticks itself apart

how to be a person on a park bench     to look at the arching
darkening sky     flocking as the tower opens &

a row of movie screens flicker through a forest
a city of sorts contained by the room

as though in high wind the leaves refract & the deflated
withers of a horse     shift just a little against the edge

as he tries again she holds this cup aloft     water
moving back into the old part of town

dancers disrobing phantoms in a field of square boulders
approach wet-footed & so French     stroking her fur throat

walking to the giant steps backward     how the scratched film echoes
so much light exhausted on the right half of her face

As though another country

The city so outlined, so small & humorless. The bits of refraction so serene & white in the sun.

In the middle of the country, faceless women pass with dogs made of retracting shrubbery. The sky beating the riverfront as streetcars zoom by.

At a certain point in the street, I think of wanting a ferry made of light. Unclear where the bottom is; the street so far below.

Before we move again down the tunnel blackened with unuse, the name appears upon the roof. & a hand pointing like an onion dome.

Where are we

we walk to the barren beach in a forgotten corner of the theatre

small crystals spinning to the music triumphant

a silver sometimes detected just below
the falseness of water in the street

with the tipping trees like a sculpture garden
seeking the shadow upon the table

the sleeping man facing away

the door closes & they dance & again
we see a giant shivering girl at the beach     on the bed

her haunted eyes so recognizable so mine
blink     & the time we take to pose as wrestlers upon the roof

forms the yards of 100 streetcars
this is how the young men     suspect she has chosen to leave

A bead forest within the river

& here comes the sky so bright over the locomotives. So high & pinching away at a wall of bricks. So many floating cathedrals coughing steam. An arch, a window, and up on the edge is the boy who must run with the speeding cars. The sleeping body of the old man on the shore and the sun over it all. The sun nervous as an 8th Avenue elevated train.

Who kicks the prickly chairs? Graves lie beside the piano, the wide space of the floorboard showing like a hole in the order of things. The way darkness slouched with a fur wrap between the eyes of the old man. The man stooped & turned so slowly from you. Another light gleaming off his writing desk.