OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 1

Michael Bazzett

The Dark and Folded Thing

 

There is a man walking down a road.

With his black clothing, he could be a folded umbrella.

 

A folded umbrella is walking down a road.

 

The tiny hooks of its claws extend beyond its wings:

now it is a bat folded silently into the eaves of a barn

full of farrowing sows, shifting only slightly

among the gentle sound of piglets clucking milk

from bristling teats. There is a darkened silhouette

that is walking and hanging and leaning in the corner

covered in droplets of rain. When it spreads its wings,

there is an audible snap, and a secondary patter

as droplets spatter and it lifts away, teetering on invisible wires.

 

The rest of us pause to watch it rise:

neither cinder nor bat nor man.

 

Just then I think to raise my bow and notch an arrow

that I send hissing to the buried center of it body

and it closes into itself like a singed leaf and falls and

keeps falling past the clouds and the trees to the ground

where we glimpse wet light trickling from the wound.  

Cézanne, Released

 

The painting hangs motionless in its gilded frame

 

          and at first no one notices the slight shift in the light

 

It is still fruit, draped cloth, and cut flowers in a vase

 

          Then one blossom nods and a tired petal falls – there!

 

Each flower in turn begins to lose its crinkled eyelids

 

          The peaches piled on a rush mat melt down to pit

 

as the fruit blooms pale clouds of hairy mold then

 

          collapses into a hunkered mass reeking of cheap wine

 

Let the window gape and count the wasps that come

 

          hovering anxious as a headache sensitive to light

 

Watch them burrow whole-bodied into the wet flesh

 

          fevering after the easy sugar, tunneling into the softness

 

Listen to the gallery begin to thrum with the hush

 

          of so much venom and let your mind go still as stone

Michael Bazzett’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Guernica, Virginia Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, the Rumpus, and Best New Poets. You Must Remember This, his debut collection, received the 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions, where he has two additional collections forthcoming: The Interrogation, and The Popul Vuh, the first English verse translation of the Mayan creation epic. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children. Learn more at michaelbazzett.com.