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Scantily Clad Press, 2009

In the midst of standing still something else is occurring and the name for that is the small dance. —Steve Paxton

1 Societies of superfluity require doses

of the end

of the world It was Wednesday morning we were exploring a poetry of a dancer to dance a haircut and it is already happening—one takes the first step in a dance away from transcendence and is now an infinite distance removed

2 I wake thinking

atrocious, atrocious

horses moving diagonal in the shadow of a plane Now the tragedy is anatomical I’m no longer good


at transducing tragedy and instead go hungry waiting for others where only images like torsos arriving from the sea arrive and linger like the cat

in the backyard nursing alertly

3 Do you explain ice by acting slippery? Simply

by moving we implicate

of time so it is already

changing a pull in the lapse

a voice to recover the present covert even from ourselves

the hoax

4 Today is wrought by a lingering thingishnessless a planet that desires what it dooms into orbit Today the trees are fraught with gossip about being and the selves who we are are moving targets It is said one is either poet or assassin but we have grown conspiratorial

being both

5 I would like to

be able to

describe to

you a stillness but yawning at a funeral is a kind of dance refolding another

a flag

In Japan god stands on an artichoke but here in America we take the PATH train to Journal Square and the first store we see boasts 99¢ DREAMS One wakes only to this false peace with the voice of a weatherman

6 Then having forgone the rectangle of tamed light for a structure that is itself rhythm, hymn-like our voices were overlaid in a dizzying charge

I got lonely

thinking about how the galaxies are so big they could run right into one another and not even touch Then I got self-interrogatory with caustic shifts sticky fingers and disappearing blips the dead will see


I’m not very brave or worse that I am

7 The vowels are valves The song is an answer And this is a question of forces a voice

to recover

a step

to take

from ourselves

back from the edge’s smirking lip and toward the darting a tongue makes

rescuing the middle

8 Harmony says he found a piece of some guy’s shoulder in a pillowcase Apparently berserk we continue to sweep the bodies into the future our bones growing relentlessly and at the speed of cicadas we are conjuring awe on the outskirts of war

9 I’m still recovering from the tingle of the hairdresser’s razor or the triangle of Broadway to work to my one-way street, Brooklyn the way one step insinuates its others endlessly I have found myself suffused by rough light unexpectedly pierced to haunt When the poet pictures off on

someone jerking a marble

statue, off-white on off-white—we

finally see how

dance is born from abundance

10 The other me in my dream said shed the semiotic for the seismic The wind proved presence to be a form of magnetism The leaves do not need to tremble

to learn how

though probably the world is too

sure about its things

11 To truly understand one must nest subcutaneous bed beneath the counterfeit of architecture and attend each dislocation of grace When one sparrow veers the whole

flock warps

into rearrangement Peril is just

another word for body

12 Police helicopters charging in Brooklyn and below the squeal of the train’s brakes rang to a stop I was watching the United States postal worker riding the F reading Danielle Steele and staring intently at the thin pages past his thick gold chain Outside the bum was huffing glue as toddlers played T-ball a brown paper bag clutched to his heart This here is a nature poem

13 To say blood

is the medium is

also to say blood is the middle a location that spills


into itself

To say breath

is the medium is

also to say breath

is the middle

a locution

that spells what

is continually

given as language

is language

We disclose so much simply by beginning


14 We awe even at the airport terminal’s chaotic banality a vast array of human hives to shore against lack as the chorus intensifies Quite often it is the coincidence

that crashes

quiet quiet

crash a form of heat lightning an invisible excess

from above

I never learned to separate people from principles

15 A cauterizing horse escapes the hood of some rich fucker’s car as the night gradually curves like a vowel Last night a word

appeared to

me in a dream—SUNGHOST—but receiving no directions on how to split it it remained hinged a thing to transverse This afternoon I looked skyward at the sound of a helicopter only to find a caterpillar wriggling midair

16 A fascination with the rearrangement of animals A sleepy love with racing breasts An avenue to turn paralysis That which remains part of the fiction remains New York glass shards in the grass helicopters a situation we can’t stop immaculating each one of us veering into the joke as likewise I tear at Red Shift blooming beard to lurch and return I

always knew the reason

there was no reason I stopped not

and ride the train

looking and got

fit stuck that way

17 He dreams lovely allows him into the afterworld Sunlight goads again so I am balancing

as the train

in the photograph reads Pussy the restless murmur of metallic things

is God


and I promise to never I promise to always go sincere in the blur

stop moving

A whole system of gravitational muscles, whose action for the most part eludes conscious attention and will, is responsible for assuring our posture: these muscles maintain our equilibrium and permit us to stand without having to think about it. It so happens that these muscles are also those which register the changes in our affective and emotional state. Thus, every modification of our posture will intersect with our emotional state, and reciprocally, every affective charge will bring with it a modification, however imperceptible, in our posture. —Hubert Godard

18 In the same way that music disturbs a silence that never was I find parts of myself torn into frays of sonic excess other parts snarled in the convolutions of an always already choreographed world I do a small dance only

to find it enormous

do a so simple step and end up staggering in fury

19 If you think you’re not thinking when you’re dancing think again

20 I was out interviewing clouds, amassing the notes of a sky pornographer while patches of the city subnormalized by fear of fear like a reef bleaching closed I took to the streets looking for a human velocity thinking of


feeling heavy in the abundance of summer light the silent apathy of stars is neither silent nor apathetic I am becoming weather and don’t plan on doing it alone

21 Most stay testing the gray balloon brains of their enemies I swell It is Sunday

a cat erupts

on the nightstand and wine moves into the socks I spent the afternoon ogling mugshots at the precinct so many torn out eyes There was a movie on TV about dudes

blowing other dudes

apart Outside a quick quivering bird took refuge in a length of pipe Being a thing, it bursts into events The poor own the clouds and we love them for it

22 Sure I was a molecule accumulating talk I came to this wanting to say something small about being with you an awkwardness beneath gasoline each weird hospitality flung into the mouth of a passing bird a rabbit, a snake I woke refurbishing The Kite Wars Korean Dogwood blooming in my ears the man loves art because he is an egoist

in my ears

he is an egoist

Today is something thrown and awaiting purchase

23 The rappers say and ask

it’s like that

can I live?

24 This is insect speed and we must be legendary in our hush corpuses thrumming open as a patina of grief corrodes unnoticed in a background of yesterday’s teeth the newspaper reads tiny coffin moves

scientists to tears

and our extravagances gather This is deep speed or a dynamism of the middle prone to disappearance A speed slowed past capital in the slick of the thing music

25 There is still nothing like looking at the swimming pools of America through our airplane windows the clouds caught heavy as doubt against the apparent curvature of the sky I am so not thinking these days I am so wavelets We went to bed early after making love by the light of the KEY FOODS

26 No one seeks peril and yet there it is there is peril in admiring the trees

When Spicer said poetry is “a machine for catching ghosts,” he also said, “sex”

27 The flowers, the flowers—what would it mean to be a bee? to speak in swerves in a force voice? words make things name One tongue travels near the other and the whole picture unravels into movement—this is not love but it is dancing this is all gossip about being

this is all

paronomasia and miasma shaking the entirety in turn tuning flux and flaring at the imperceptible fringes of collision

28 By entering this dense dance I do not mean to revert to a dazzling dumb-mobile The wind warps my breath

the air errs and the pivot

of my crash moves on


The hives which were people Death which is a question The love which leaves me

too turned

on to write—the woods in the city teeming the phone rings and one is suddenly absent in the rustle and stumble a vector catching on unevenness Only lies slide and these volumes

thrill at the pierce we become I feel the necessity of a chorus

Chris Martin's first book of poems, American Music, was chosen by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award and published by Copper Canyon in 2007. Essays of his on the ontology of rap, the goddess of drought, and seers of the veer have recently been featured in Poiesis, Slash, and Yeti respectively. After 11 issues and almost as many years, his stewardship of the online journal Puppy Flowers is coming to an end. He lives in Brooklyn, but hails from Minnesota, Colorado, and Santa Fe. His previous chapbooks were called

American Music, The Day Reagan Died, Vermontana, The Smallish Lever, Regarding the Uncertain Distinction Between Art and Hat, and Flex.

"The Small Dance" by Chris Martin  

A Scantily Clad Press E-chap