Author: Gale Nelson

Gale Nelson's most recent book is This Is What Happens When Talk Ends, a portion of which first appeared in The Offending Adam. His other books are stare decisis and ceteris paribus. Each of these four short texts culls words from a public reading given by the author to whom the particular poem is dedicated.

A Little Modal Erasure & Migration Ache Stolen & Where the Thin Rail Ends & Punished for Vanity

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.

from Elementary Morality

vibrant umbrage selfless keel silent torrent
  dexterous anxiety  
eclipsing wager dominant keening forced air
  territorial desire  
seeping windmill variant spelling tabled accent
  momentary dew  
  not every


has a long


nor is each


a Picasso

exacting eclipse anxious umbrage torrential extant
  keening windmill

*                    *                    *                    *

balanced armature addicted dystopia sugared traipse
  purple elbow  
extreme button loving cup speckled hen
  skimming schema  
territorial consequence unrelenting ballast numb parchment
  antediluvian garden  
  pluck this subject

out from all

others and confer

upon her

the rights and

duties we no

longer desire

parched territory schematic jade consequent balance
  elbowed eden

*                    *                    *                    *

bubbling gambit wrung neck inverted egg
  assembled chrome  
distinguished guest provisional trim embroiled prism
  little groan  
variegated board catered spoof pardoned chef
  experimental paradise  
  the squirrel

turns himself

upside down

in order to

feed upon

the birdseed

then rights himself

trimming assemblage looming inversion spoofed bubble
  bored provision

*                    *                    *                    *

lambent archive seminal fringe flecked ceiling
  arbitrary cattle  
sudden belief dusted exposure wanted shelves
  rattled composure  
red scarf beatled brow languid cusp
  intrepid spool  
  the shame of

the matter

is that we

could have


each other

and been of use

sealed documents shelved rattle fringed scarf
  spooled dust

Lasting Cure’s Ideal & Their Vocal Soul Din

Lasting Cure’s Ideal

Kitchens’ candor can echo slender
slip-ups. In calamity’s present
crawl, loud slate cuffs unnerve the
city’s keel. Enlist spigots in cattle calls
aireds claimed breeds
go hovering, legs in, thrust back. Treat
these pools evenly, beg
this count as done in. Vex
calamity’s back-chat lore, but
listen. All the fused care shuns
books paged there befouled
when miraged and preened. Lost,
we seek guardian’s grasp—
bottom’s soil unloops smug tally
in energy’s rough hand. This then relief
as coils ache content’s place.

Their Vocal Soul Din

Fissuring tempests, follow honor’s lead on
fine kettle’s terror and query timid
terraces—ideas linked and voiced
by that vapid saga singing all tracings that
show filament’s clone feasting. Evergreen youth—
shackle large smug corn sacks as loving troves
engaging pairs in color duets. Young console
shifts noon’s level on shading dares. Those
song birds sing of forest’s ground in accents last found
as torrid flasks shirk all grains—
the eight peaches bend as roundels keen. We
toast lax tippling, spar limp clogs, feel
quartz sting, or gag as clever agony slices
the shelf in half. Tribute not, but orate triad’s
fancy—distaff forms term limits, alas, in sham.