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Rebecca Mertz

I was listening to Aldon Lynn Nielson’s paper, “The Look of Lyric in Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry” — Poets like Giovanni Singleton, Evie Shockley, Deborah Richards, Julie Patton who create text boxes, charts,  3-D graphics. So I created my own text box while listening to Nielson;  a question, an answer, and a captioned white space underneath. I hoped these would demonstrate something complicated about voice and form. I followed these “question poems” with a 10 pages of fragments, some prose poems, and, finally, poems which (hopefully) are something between verse and prose, something a little more ambiguous. Most of this manuscript was composed during classes, watching TV, listening to the radio. I wanted them to contain a multitude of voices. Thanks to Dawn Lundy Martin for her help with these poems.


From  The Excavation of Light at the Wedding:





How did you know when to give the children away?


They will ask for cell phones.  Uploading their pictures will

take hours. You’ll recognize their scents.  Now it is time to


we started calling her by her real name for fun. we realized her






What is the point of the photographs?


On the bottom shelf in the living room we keep the album

filled with each other so that we know that death  doesn’t


as long as there is some record as long as we know we are reall
















What did she used to look like?


Like a swelling circle of dimeatap on the kitchen counter

our eyes were full of implications. Standing at the cash reg


body is full of time there are the parts that have always been






What is your special name for her body?


 It is merely the hormones released during orgasm or nurs

 ing. Don’t be startled. The light gets dimmer but the skin


in the dark without waking the love making becomes the ritual














The lenses were a gift. The googlers inserted my name but it

was not physical. The same atoms that make up my cunt make

up Cheers. If you miss me, you can lick the television set.

Sooner or later the alphabet will dissolve back into the papyrus.

We can tear it open and smell it.



















That’s twenty five times the speed of sound. Adultery is utterly impossible.

We exhumed the color and discovered the interplay of light. There was

nothing beyond illumination. We discovered that the speed and size of its

vaporization was the most pristine impact of light against her skin. But this is all

just a eulogy








toss the pill box into her face until the right pills

get  into    her mouth.        the brain has its own

vocabulary and some sights are untranslatable.         

      infants  have  closed   eyes

 most of the time.

power up what you believe    is possible. this

isn’t plaid or checkers or filigree or floral print.

this  is a dress        doesn’t come with a sash or

feathers.  this is the    best day of her  


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