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The victory of the strange heart beating Cristiana Baik

The victory of the strange heart beating Cristiana Baik

BLUE HOUR PRESS 1709 8TH ST TUSCALOOSA AL 35401 Copyright Š 2008 Cristiana Baik. All rights reserved.

Yesterday all the past. The language of size ‌ The divination of water. W.H. Auden


2 Pomeranic dispatch Frontier floods Dark distills Errs, indigo Lone oak, dionysian Night lasts 

Aurora Borealis— tell me about yearning, estrangement, in one   go-wave of light. 

3 Cygnus, Cygne, Coscoroba

Not for the swans, but for Leda

I “The feathered glory from her loosening thighs.”

II Remote, a single reed slaps against the wind. Beneath the lake’s surface, roots vulgarly twist over one another.    Remote, one’s eyes parcel the reaction against the sky, distanced by a million flames.   A million flames burn for themselves, as water absorbs without reflection.

III A ladder of feathers, a trace of white flames.   Quills imprint old legends into water.    A single reed slaps against a stone braised by blood. This matter’s ink. A single reed slaps against the water. The braised surface is enveloped by water.

IV Helen, as his offspring, you must have known your fortune.  

V Helen leaves for her taking, not to Troy, but to Egypt. (For whom was she was written for) Her unexpected shroud into the boat, timely. In Troy, left is a god’s stall phantom. That is, what heroes crave for.

VI “A shudder in the loins engenders there” is the premise that this is greatness, the impulse of a swan’s “strange heart beating.” Greatness: who defines tradition leaves little room for who defies tradition.   Greatness: what we write  is the victory of the strange heart beating.    

VII It is Leda who awakes to hit nerve, a sudden hit of brute blood.   But isn’t this custom, to fit into the beauty of the swan, more than the body of Leda. A sad strength defined by accustomed armor, a muse-mute, suffice.


5 Almond-white Swimmers’ gaze Blue baring Water, nameless Appearance, approach

Black pummel pummeled, blue ice machine blue back bearing— a race—whistles, handlebars, down the long arroyo . Seeing, salt, splat! Tristes tropiques to you, canyons. 

6 Two days We are kin that go to sea, raised by stiff hands, —our quiet piano. We as ones that go to sea, exposed out and hover, lips an inch above— blue flecks, ripples ruffle, sea ruffles, surprised like confetti— the blue flecks.

7 Untitled It’s cold and articulate. The rain as it appears in Oakland. Looking out seemingly fractured, clear, in a new year— variations. Before our time, one other— each amateur, new. Impulse is like a cloud, fearful but new. A newness guiding me through. First a realist painting, then a knockout punch. A painting in post-color, a presence of any weight. Rain—elemental and lucid, in the way he drew it. Everyday life detailed, disassembled. My pulse when instantly floored. The rain, moving and intervening.


9 Lunar cuts Light foals Sketch, erasure Yearning, estrangement

Cherry red Eye contact Passenger-side Seedy ancient Green-eyed Almost gentle Invisible line Driver’s window Coma-tosity Soul-eyed Crossed arms You crossed Too dark Straightening up

10 Swim Cycle Swim lengths, pool side, body adhere, go linear. Green thins, underneath, light lattices up my waist. Up, the water ways thru my hair, night strands strung & into the sea.

11 Swim Cycle I always imagined some bright man and his fists. Not to damage but we know, fear. Letters I recite, those I will never write. So what must Germany be like or for that matter the DMZ? Dizzying, dolt, delineated in a new world with trips— free and so petty. Alliterative is damage, damage of suburban outposts in pools.

12 Costume In a dream, Leda says, Let it go. • She leaves a dress in the closet. Its fabric, strange pallor, the shade: dulcimer. As if this fabric is noise, broadband, flash, silver braze. A deep white coal, white noise, in its myrmidon attitude of silver braze. I approach the dress’s sheen, fabric that if placed on skin, leverages a different kind of life. But in winter, I imagine, its sheerness might feel too thin, touching so close to feeling lone on the skin. Even with the wrapped protection of a wool coat, I can too easily

imagine the wind whistling through, its fabric singing low, having me remember someone far away from her own, a wet spire of foreign feathers shorning the skin. Leda’s dress hangs in shadows of thicker coats, sweaters, dresses. Waiting to become more than just foreign wear.


14 Mirror deluge A double—spy-style Her actual image Felt appearance Taken down

15 Luna, lunar brightest to brighter— loosening, waning, waxing.

Deserted streets Streams seamed A scent descends Scents up, Saturday Fading taser Hyperthermia

16 Personal Cinema They too frequently watch movies where characters collapse from their restless affluence. As her boyfriend bites her tongue, saying he likes to draw threats of censure, she imagines visual cues— scenes of the alternative, old-new Roman rituals capsized into new-fast metamorphoses of Dionysian frenzy.

“But he, too, went the way of dreams” “Closing the portals forever” “A sympathy of thought “ between them. Always, between them is what’s permitted because they will need this resolution tomorrow. Care, remembered alongside noise of gondolier drivers arrested in headline traffic, as too these drivers head

to their tiny abroads, homes of their borders, families. All they have missed apart. Trapped and/or insulated by the bedroom with nothing more to say, falling asleep to finished black screens, the movies. * “The picture completed bore no resemblance” “-white, with a waving vertical line” “luxuriant beauty as a greater severity of line”

* They complain of vacuous cemented streets­— rhetorical gestures of individual, loving movements. Mean something other than meanings that aim for spectacularly individualistic.


18 Light cut, light noise, light foals. Aurora Borealis— tell me about yearning, estrangement, in one   go-wave of light. 

Sea stores, sea shores— moon circumflex, light shards into the floating bank.

Excerpts in “Cygnus, Cygne, Coscorobo” are from “Leda and the Swan” by W.B Yeats. In “Personal Cinema,” the excerpts are from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. • Cristiana Baik currently makes her home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She has been published in Jacket Magazine, Real Poetik, The Spinning Jenny, and other journals. She co-edits ::: the press gang :::, a small press based in Tuscaloosa and New York • This book was designed by Justin Runge for Blue Hour Press, printed digitally and distributed online. The titles were set in Helvetica Neue, a 1983 reworking of the renowned Swiss typeface designed by Max Miedinger in 1957, and the textblocks were set in Perpetua, designed by British sculptor and printmaker Eric Gill in 1929.

The Victory of the Strange Heart Beating  

A chapbook by Cristiana Baik.

The Victory of the Strange Heart Beating  

A chapbook by Cristiana Baik.