132.1: Gale Nelson:: A Little Modal Erasure & Migration Ache Stolen & Where the Thin Rail Ends & Punished for Vanity 132

I had the privilege of introducing Gale Nelson’s poetry back in Issue 026; now, as I introduce Gale Nelson for Issue 132, I’ve succumbed to nostalgia. I imagine the last nearly three years as bookended plates: Nelson’s homophonic translations at the beginning, the selection offered here at the end. In this metaphor, these plates are seismic, not photographic: they shift and subduct, a mantle formed around experiences so magmal that I cannot quite provide any details save that the years have passed. Nelson’s poetry reminds me that I cannot neatly separate beginning, middle, or end. Every period is a fault-line, every stanza a ring of fire.

Nelson is a poet who can break a line with cliff-like drama (“Is it like the zoo after/hours”) or switchback his way through a sentence (“To know/the way is to/manipulate the other”). Nelson’s stanzas are not islands but rather archipelagos that share indigenous species. Consider, for instance, the poem “Migration Ache Stolen.” Words like “science” and “consequently” compete with determinations like “Not mine” and the wonderfully paradoxical “drown the lake//in the woods.” This collision does not represent an interpretive ordeal leaving us only one winner; instead, this collision reveals the ecosystem, a dynamic process of the speaker’s claims and disavowals. These poems are lyrical seismologies. Ryan Winet

A Little Modal Erasure

          for Victor Wildman

Is it like the zoo after
hours, or is it more
like turning the pagoda
when she was done?

Perhaps it will be,
strangely, a surface,
but then how will it loop?
Scale is another handmade

matter. Great plates
summoned according
to ruined unison.

Migration Ache Stolen

          for Amish Trivedi

Not mine. The science
of desire will achieve —
drown the lake

in the woods. Rather
than the middle
consequently. Reflecting

back scuttles a second
feature. Saturated
gesture of burdens.

Where the Thin Rail Ends

          for Sarah Madsen

Mutual if unsolicited,
the patterns of her
life warranted

my hands in
tenderness. Unlit

self-regulating, a failure
written in descending
questions of night.

Punished for Vanity

          for Evelyn Hammond

Render the sympathy
when illusion
reels thought

departed. To know
the way is to
manipulate the other,

to cede allusion
with severed braids
of desire.