098.1: Heather Christle:: The Seaside! & An Activity & How Like an Island 098

While conducting research for this introduction, I discovered something very strange about Heather Christle. For two weeks in July 2011, after Christle released her second book The Trees The Trees, you could call her number and she would read a poem from her book. Since I only just learned about these telephone readings, I never called, but I wonder what it’s like to call a stranger and ask her for something, her work, to perform or to not perform. I wonder if she took time with callers or quickly did what was asked of her. I wonder how she selected poems to read, if something in the caller’s voice was enough to make the selection or if their selection was predetermined. That is, caller one would receive poem one, caller two poem two, and so on. I wondered if they wanted to tell her things, tell her things like the speakers do in this week’s selection from Christle. In “The Seaside!” we question whether the captain listens and if our speaker will ever be free from his devotion to this figure and the sea. Love is the trap—just as in “How Like an Island” the “we” is moored to the sea’s floor. There is breathlessness, urgency, and desperation to these poems as if at any moment the person on the other end may hang up that phone. Christle delicately balances this against the absurd. Read these. Then call a stranger. Tell them a secret. Hang up before they can respond.

A series of flashcard-broadsides by Heather Christle is also forthcoming in TOA's Chapvelope Three, now available for pre-order. Nik De Dominic

The Seaside!


This is a wall of great intensity and furious
it kind of hums yellow and hums
green and never shall it hum purple Captain
when will you relieve me The wall
I love at night is huge and warms me
like a caterpillar or bag but do I also
have a family Captain or is the wall
the only shelter I have known and furious
why and humming brightly why Why
is all the beauty in the wall and not
in me Captain and in you Captain you
are studded lines of buttons That is
some finery! Whereas my outfit is it
like a prison with the dimmer switch
turned low No my outfit is nothing
the dimmer switch to nothing But
I can tell you things I’m not a piece of foam



An Activity


There is a quilt and he is beneath it and some light
comes down through stitches He can see that it’s man-made
Can see his knees and hands and belly and by the light
he knows the night lies in the future just as he lies
on the floor The quilt holding him together like skin
and warm and also with a soft all-natural light He thinks
from above probably he appears a rough organic form
Kind of casual like a canoe that’s been attached
to boulders or casual like an island Like he is rising
from the floor and someone will maybe discover him soon
Give him a name and go away and tell a soul or two about it
How he was there and the quilt was there Empty young
and quiet like a prison yard when breaks the afternoon



How Like an Island


How like an island we are in love encouraging
moss & like an island we are barely moving Just
to exist takes much concentration & like an island
in love we have a house in our two imaginations &
they intersect It strengthens the house & our feelings
Unlike an island we wake up An island never sleeps
That is its duty & ours to remain in love barely moving
We do not want to disturb the house Do not want it
to fall into the ocean that is always so nearby It surrounds
us & is moving Like an island the ocean does not see us
or care why though we persist in loving it at one rate
or another & are waking close together in the dark