109.1: rob mclennan:: The learning curve that sometimes manages, itself & Call and answer: crush, unnumbered, 109

On a June 16th blog post, rob mclennan praises the recent work of Nicole Markotić as an “investigation into the sentence.” What is true of Markotić’s work is equally true of mclennan’s poems below. But TOA readers should not assume that mclennan’s investigations into the sentence begin and end with a full-stop: when I say that mclennan investigates, I use the verb with all the baggage from detective films. He turns the clause, the word, even punctuation upside down and inside out.

Like any great investigator, mclennan notices the uncanny in every detail. His poem for Pearl Pirie begins as a kind of exercise. Phrases shift, reverse, stand on their heads. But to call this poem an exercise would take away from its lyrical power, manifested in the evocative and haunting power of the first section’s final sentence: “We are watching the moon we were.” A poetic “happening” or “scene” would perhaps better describe this sort of investigation. For we readers are in the same position as mclennan’s “we,” witnessing the subtle shifts and reversals of a world slowly revealing itself—not for any final clue, not for a final revelation, but for a moment that reveals the profundity of the unexpected. Ryan Winet

The learning curve that sometimes manages, itself

for Pearl Pirie,

There are these things that are
important to me and they speak of
how all is not right with the world
yet still all is right.
       Juliana Spahr, Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You


The gathering place of something, we. I can’t recall. It was I who called, who called, who.

Watch the moon, full, you must. You must, we. We are watching the full moon, full of
something. Was full, of only, possibly ourselves. Only full.

We are watching the moon we were.


This gathering, place. We gather, stand only in place. We, hurriedly, walk. We run over to,
stand. We stand over. We.

Stood to fall, fully. You fell. You were standing, a staid. Stayed, there on the floor. You
stood there, lying down. You took it. Lying there, prone.

He stood by the stand. Stand, would walk. Hurriedly.


Was contemplating an action. In, action. Inaction. We were, contemplating, we. Action. We
were simply, in. This was, simply. This simply, was.

Staging, an action. Compelled, and dried. Over, we.

Not every inaction.

Call and answer: crush, unnumbered,

for Lea Graham,

Your sentences chopped
like telegraphs, stop.
       Marcus McCann, Soft where


Puzzle out, a lick. Or say whatever, is. Ambient noise, a dreamy dream. Recounted.
Rubbernecking, paralyzed in trees. Supplied, vocabulary. Bruise, a humble. Astonishing.

What coined a little prayer. A gnostic coil, crush. This alchemy.

Wouldn’t, trouble. Bells, in their dissent. A nimble, energetic. An equilibrium. Laid out, on
the floor.

Demarcates, a perfect lap. Precisely, messenger to asphalt. This ripen, void. Goes far beyond
occasion. A small, alien focus.

Years, was one. We learned vitality. A fabric of uncertain, sleep.


Said, falling from this height. When you said, late.

Small consequence of, light. Sightline, and a crooked mouth. Lavender, and rigorous
honesty. The dirt, no camoflauge.

Could ask you, what aloud. Gnomish, conjoined. Emit, let loose, a gainsay. Rocks along the
flay, crush. Had heard the telephone ring, in hours. Where, we listen. Stencil. An era, what
the heart sprung.

Hang in there, as lungs. Examine, subatomic seas. Overcome, we get the better of.

Architecture. Back there to the beginning. Everyone, lightheaded.