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Amber Nelson



When I first learned about techniques like erasure and collage I got all excited about what happened to the language within the poem. I started writing all of my poems like this. But something changed. I grew frustrated with its meaninglessness, or at least, its meaninglessness to me. I started to find these poems boring. A cute line here or there and that was the end for me. Eventually it all started sounding the same. I still love the techniques and believe they have the potential to reach parts of ourselves we can’t reach by staring at a blank page trying to write a POEM. The limits of the form allow us to dig deeper, if we’re willing to put in the time. For these poems, I used collaged. I chose words slowly. Answers aren’t laid out, but if I succeeded, then there exists something in the layer underneath the words. These poems are my battle for intention, while still adventuring in language.


from Your Trouble is Ballooning



We conviction machines, raise through the dry to cave under agents—high,

even after the back address, programming still weathers off rice & down into the

revolution. This time, move houses from movie-like doorways, those scalpels

so broken, the incisions hostage, their shouldered stairways of dashing laughter,

watermelons—Chinese restaurant— with whatever sexual positions jack-wedged

into exclusion under the passive hardware of delay & arbitrary, & bereft, & you know

what I mean. Until China scratches, we briefcase ourselves—transaction shrunk critical:

the sheaves corner back insights, reveal civilization, the clasp in blonde operations

of submitting, rising through the appetite like a curb likely, or a skyscraper imbued

with election— all the drown & tiring, those iron arches, just gathering back—

that limpid pool, masked upon the night of draw, repaired of all woodpeckers, as if

by copied blunders— how remote the tenderness removed from the snow

of this forgetting, like remembering and forgetting—the divided, jack-hammered



                                           I travel to Caligari

                                           the mistakes, who teased

                                           our bony cherries

                                           in this playground?


                                           To ease

                                           we only reinvent absorption.


                                           I am Married and Insubstantial


                                           as a stain

                                           to this field,


                                           a skirmish and flyswatter

                                           made buxom.




It tousles with suitcases, a stowed everything

flung in fifteen interesting lives

and put there, and business to your Chinese,

to your Madrid—startled waking, curse

meeting to fell you. From purse, the balm

of coupling. From the sips in the row,

the pages of being. Alcohol gets up

and goes into the hotel, wondering home.

My room grazes your stadium. The flyer

is underneath to us. And the bells lead.



Burning Town; Starlight

Roofs calm in fields and night. Towns can be blood-stained or tiny.

She opened by nude envelopes lapsing on her inquisition, the thief fixing by her tread.

They oxidized this way with clovering water and opaque halves and coral searching her.

The body of the moment she seeks: only stained glass. The land a dying village.

But they wreck the night and so are lights and flicker and repeat this fire.

Men may not watch history, a summer execution as it is, and they passage.

She fails her star as wide-eyed field: burning, measured by water.



then said individually

to twine music in

plaster cackle: quietly, character

to borrow a parrot maybe or

that footnote there, that collarbone

now fleeting never believed

to taste some fists or

a letter even. An aquarium of

heroes muted (god blurs like)

“Mother voice dirty porcelain.” Or

the hem that gullies in only

my gulping pockets. Or, “wrong” not

wrong, all interrupted, the century

days of diagonal dust in

library creases, at puddle

sanded widows on a staircase in

suspension. Birds concealed

and leading measured chalk.




Each circle is sharper today. The feather is against the laundromat and the cherry is

against the satellite dealership rakishly escaping in air. Your trouble is ballooning. Too

slick this knocking in the refrigerator, these orgasms between mixed ankles like play

commandos. Animals devour like capitalists glinting beneath designer button lint,

hanging by pedagogy and ring fingers. Whistling and bees scar the city. Each branch,

like promises bearing above classification. Humming this sincerity. Humming this

deadened commentary for all that bewildered grief and structure. Willed in the driver’s

seat is a companion.

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