Cause Effect.

Some signs remain secret, some manifest, some in the body, some
in the mind, and diversely. Continues to night. Avert sensitive choirs
that grab by turns of logic.

Species directly given to imagination project threats. Watery and terrestrial
though burnt and about to fall for it. A chaperone develops in thickets
of uneven landscape.

Replicate a thwarted return. Twin-born inseparable companions who
swap a fluid dialogue. The specific distinction in these limbs: their

Like the wild boar a riotous pulse. Now nearer, now farther off, together,
asunder. One may delight in faction, though often a strong conceit
punishes wits.

Happy is the city that in times of peace dreams of war. A painting
captivates cheerlessly. More or less deep impressions that fashion a rigid

Though altitude and atmosphere do agitate impersonally, every society,
corporation, and family is full of some such stimulus. Emulations that shadow
a captive envy.

Questions and Answers

How/where do you find inspiration today?

I wouldn’t say that I seek inspiration, exactly, but I do try to find kernels in texts, ideas, situations, that I can explore and engage with through my writing. My practice is research-based in the early stages, so often I look to old texts or those in the public domain for a sense of their use of language. I then try to twist this in a way that often becomes lyrical, without shutting down the potential of these words or offering any closure. I try to open up textual moments through acts of rewriting and recontextualizing.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

This poem comes from a longer series, titled “Of Matter Diverse and Confused” that employs the language of 17th and 18th century anatomies and medical indexes to think through the many contemporary contexts of the idea of pressure and depression—personal, emotional, social, economic, or physical. Through writing through the language of these old texts I found a lyric mode of critical thinking. This particular piece works with the logical connections of malady in personal and political realms.

What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

I write by transcribing fragments of language I find in source material, and then going through a process of re-writing and editing. I try to write through research material to sculpt poetry that maintains the ideas, sound, and feelings of the original context of the words, but also presents new connections in the poetic context.

This poem “Cause Effect.” originally appeared in Agency & Affect. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 223 (Winter 2014): 101.

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