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You Haven’t Understood.

and two more poems.



You Haven’t Understood

The ice collapsing in the highball glass
has thought-like properties. Not that it
but it goes like this: light strikes it and it shatters
into constituent colors, which might pass

for sparks. But they are not sparks, they are waves
with thought-like properties, potential action,
action potential. Sometimes, collision, a fraction
that glances off a mirror ball, behaves

like one thing, becomes another. The friction
between the two things they are at once ignites
a certain heat in your fingertips. Makes the ice
in the drink—your fourth—fracture from the

between your competing impulses, and collapse
into liquid. So many nights start this way.
skin response is a ratio of panic
to pleasure. They’ve started reporting that

the mind does not store memories, that they’re
Like radio signals. You’re getting nervous now
like you do when you think about dream dates
and glances and how
things would be if you’d only said what you really

With any reflective surface, there’s a glitter
at certain angles. Sometimes the eye reacts
by reducing the light it admits. Let’s examine
the facts:
your hands touched, igniting a certain heat. There’s a bitter

note on your breath—bourbon, your fifth—and your eye admits
certain glancing shards off a mirror ball. They say
nature is not schizophrenic, meaning the sigh
of the surf, and the ice-gleam and what you’re exhaling, it’s

the same thing. Nature doesn’t really care
for fragmentation and it will not bear
your inattention graciously, and dreams
have wavelike properties and now it seems

you’re dreaming of collapsing, curling walls
of water crawling the sand in a filmic way
toward a palm tree’s fingered shadow as the day-
light glances off the mirror ball, and falls.

Galvanic skin response is a ratio
of arousal to water molecules with thought-
like properties that film the hot
palms of hands; Nature does what it does and there is no

forgiveness asked, much less permission. So
many nights end up this way; behave like one
thing but become another—all in fun,
should anyone ask later, but you know

enough to admit the signals are—well, mixed;
igniting an argument against the notion
that something must be seen to be set in motion
or that the particulars are ever fixed.

Ligabis Nodum

After the diamond knot, the high point hitch.
It can be performed in churches. Nota bene: it will tighten
with added weight. After the anchor bend,
there’s the tensionless hitch and then the half-knot spiral.
After the common whipping, the blood knot.
After the surgeon’s ligature, the grief knot.
After the angler’s loop, there’s the constrictor.
After the unknot there’s the bottle sling
and the underwriter’s knot, both of which provide
strain relief. After the underhand
knot and the overhand noose comes the ring
knot. After that, you move on to the reef knot
and after that, the thief knot, always useful
for knowing if someone has gone through your private things.
There are all kinds of bitter-end knots, and racking turns,
and slips and lashings and things that are capsized despite
all due skill with the line. You can learn how to work any kind
of hitch; friction hitch, rolling hitch, slippery hitch. You can master
open loops, understand standing and working ends.
In the end there is always a disconnect waiting to happen.


Even the dust is dazzling: glinting grit,
biotite mica’s black fire in the dirt,

glass pulverized underfoot. The grandiose
wreckage goes on forever. Everything

recrystallizes over time; chert turns
to flint, shale turns to slate, acanthus leaves

blanch, petrify; a stagnant pond where carp
curving in listless ogees will compress

to banded malachite. Ephemera
deliver disquisitions on the law

of similarity: for porphyry,
red poppies, and for lapis lazuli

wild gentian; gem-eyed lizards fix themselves
like parti-colored pins in cloisonné

to the remaindered walls. In all of this
great dissertation it’s the shift in form

that gives things value. People like to say
stay present, but that’s clearly not a thing

even out here. Things crumble, and break down,
and are reconstituted. Nothing wrong

with it—right? They say not to let your damage
define you, but I think that’s a mistake.

AMY GLYNN is an award-winning poet and essayist whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies including The Best American Poetry. Her first poetry collection, A Modern Herbal, was published in 2013 by Measure Press; her second, Romance Language, is forthcoming from Able Muse Press. She has received the Carolyn Kizer Award from Poetry Northwest, the SPUR Award of the Association of Western Writers, two James Merrill House fellowships, and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences.

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