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Julia Polyck-O'Neill :: Four poems


Augury (for Cixous)

That the body ripens
The sugars, juices augur a burst (an attempt)
Occupy more than two states at once, nonbinary & multiple
The conditions dynamic, seams threatening to give way,
giving way freely
 
Theory does not come before, to inspire
Words do not precede, do not dictate
My parents met in the mountains, in a Gold Rush museum
That’s why my pulse sounds like a pocket full of coins
The rules change every time I advance
It’s rigged and I am too shy to abandon the pursuit
I ought to say, once and for all, a certain number of banalities or truisms
But I hold my words in my mouth like an egg, delicate – biological
 
 
Dreamt that I could reach up and touch the moon
Gather foil-wrapped stars, place in ornamental bowls
Come to hate my face
Longing for something rooted, below surfaces
Tyrants, despots, dictators, capitalism, all that forms the visible political space for us
Is only the visible and theatrical (surface); augury
 
Stranger our language, this masculine web; we are colonized
The concept of frontier is colonial – I am pushing nothing
revolutionary force that no person who has been in a situation of distress has ever denied
Literary actions are actions that have a force of transformation, a force of political affirmation
Write poetry in the face of silence & erasure
Produce a chain of nonmeaning around meaninglessness, augur a burst (divine)
 
 
 
Non.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the cause that impel them to such a course.

 
 
There’s a well

There’s a well for
tears
&
a delicate hand
crank
to tamp down the
excess
Absorb it! Absorb
everything
&
I do
 
 
If cries are
an orchestra
we imagine that beneath all
music
is pain
&
dehumanizing horror
 
All the songs.
 
My face is a
wall
My body is a wall
 
 
 
Be sweet

A new dawn, as expected
The horizon is always surveyed;
I am too late to see the sunrise, but I know it happened
There are truths.
Recollections of graphs, of parabolic linearity
Jagged zigzag, a pulse,
a dramatic interlude
The horizon has a pulse
Sharp and
Rhythmic, a meter
Everything is measurable, even us
We too are data;
the land is data
Here, it is flatlining, but in other spaces, it was alive
I felt quite alive, and well, and everything, I could feel, my luck was tangible,
I felt quite alive
& now, a chill.
The air is still, silence swallows
It begins to snow, and the snow here is different,
& then the ground is pale, white, pure (but if we taste the flakes on our tongues, we know they’re
sour with sky dusts and chemical fogs;
We once freely tasted, but now we hold our breath,
close our mouths collectively, tightly like vaults)
Purity is a myth and we imbibe like Dionysus, we need myths of untenable perfections, we need them for scale, for immolation, even if we can trace this as tautology, we let it stand without question;
punish us for being alive / punish us for being
Be beautiful, but only just.
Be sweet, but be clever, too. Be kind. Accept your fate softly. Be soft. Grate off your edges; be smooth and soft. Burn off your textures. We want the rolling hills, the silent horizons, none of the drama, no jagged fray, no sharpness at all.
One day it was just enough. Full to the brim. Volumetrically, the contain(h)er was now an object in space, all positive, nothing wasted.
The air was heavy.
It was embarrassing, to be so shy and to bleed all over. To also ask to be carried, or dragged (­­­­­­­­­­­­—just get me out of here)
& the flakes became stars; also poisonous, but sources of light against the backdrop of nothing.
& they are stars, maybe galaxies.
But! They were once snowflakes
The horizon is really just a sharp inky line across the page
Who is the author, & what is this language?
When we choose our words, we are also political.
When my mouth forms an unfeeling em dash between ideas, this, too, is a politics.
My countenance, like a landscape, is a context. Is a politics.
 
 

Julia Polyck-O’Neill is an artist, curator, critic, and writer. She is a doctoral candidate in Brock University’s Interdisciplinary Humanities program, where she is completing a SSHRC-funded interdisciplinary and comparative critical study of contemporary conceptualist literature and art in Vancouver. She has taught in art history and contemporary visual culture in the department of Visual Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School, and is currently a visiting lecturer in American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Her writing has been published in B.C. Studies, Feminist Spaces, Tripwire, Fermenting Feminisms (a project of the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, curated by Lauren Fournier), and The Avant Canada Anthology (WLU Press, forthcoming 2018). Her debut chapbook, femme, was published in 2016 by above/ground press; a second above/ground chapbook is forthcoming in August 2018.


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issue three :: January/February 2018