Carol Ciavonne

reconstruction of the world on the model of the action by which I shift a pencil

—after Simone Weil

with the line leading to form, texture, color
and all speaking
the single vowel heard, or the consonant
which takes longer.
Then there is the growth of the water plants and each of them
a tempest of atoms
this wat’ry world, not a short sighted longshot
not a turning but a returning
revolving but no revolution no big bang.
Here is a globe shaded with pen strokes
and the night is not long enough or the day
is too long and the width of the line doesn’t
show the delicacy of evening.
The line is short, utilitarian.
It lacks beauty
except for the beauty (some say) of economy.
Is this beauty truth or truth beauty?
There is no kindly stopping here.
No one is singing.
No one, likewise, is murdering.

the action by which I shift a pencil

is a rolling of the wrist and a rightward movement
that slides according to the length of the word.
My fist, that is, moves with friction across the paper
and it’s a pen not a pencil but this act
as if considered by my hand, the length of the word
and the shift against friction, this is also the model of the world
as gravity or obstacle. Dancing
because the air resists and does not resist movement.
Buzzing caused by wings, transparent, glittering.
Breathing, watching the sides move in and out,
A cycle, a revolution.
Writing is revolving
continuing on another line, but always returning,
if you move in space, you get somewhere.
Where do you get to? The destination
will be important in a world where the model is the shift
of a pencil. It will matter: right left up down and the weight
given to those movements intended as writing
but more like the waves children draw as imitation of cursive.
This world will not matter if no one understands
the meaning of the imitation, its limits,
the weight even of air.

reconstruction of world is

just a stroke, a partial letter, the action of shifting,
so yes, a stroke, a large stroke like the
base of the letter I, strong, insistent but reconstructing.
As well change the stroke, but not to I. Just a small stroke of a letter
because every movement must have an equal and
opposite reaction. Sometimes more. So the idea of a ripple or
a wave, compounding as it travels. The stroke becomes larger but more
uncertain, or certain in a different way, physically longer, taking more space in
every dimension, and adding sound. A wave crashing. Because that changes
the world. Not a reconstruction making over again (but never the same)
but as many times as need be in the necessity of reparation.
Repairing the world we have grievously harmed.

reconstruction of the world by my action

small minute action and I can’t be aware of this
each shift reconstructs so the world is not recognizable.
Like getting old, the shift not deliberate but inevitable
the hand releasing–oh that shift is wobbly, wide open
things spill out: some freed prisoners, some that should not be freed.
The world stabilizes, reconstructs and the body is something different.
My body has two hearts, the body of the
world has only valleys and no mountains
canyons are the feature of this planet and ink
is white but the pages are too, so what’s written is unreadable
and writing disappears except for me holding my pen
which is a shovel and I will need to shift again to find
the familiar tight ache in the space between
thumb and palm. Did I mention I write with my thumb
and someone learned in thumb language will easily be
able to decipher these words until I shift my pen.
In the next shift, I have three hands and there’s no need now to worry
because I have dug with my shovel and this world is fed.

reconstruction of sky

as reconstruction of snow in Antarctic.
The loving blue of ice. Requirement for poet. Being sentimental
and disguising it. The bark of this tree to make paper,
a book with hundreds of tiny colors each different
wanting to eat and smell and wear them. A certain blue
with a lot of grey in it. Reconstruction of the world according
to the slip of the pencil in which I write what I did not mean
and it becomes a wound or a poem. a slip:
small, quick, a slip of the tongue bungled, a slip of a girl
and the reconstruction of the world based on the slip of the shore
the shift of it. The shift of my pencil, what time
does in that shift. A bird outside clearly tweets.
Calls and tweets and drumming we
name their speech, and yet can’t learn it.

the journey of the pencil

it’s studied some of it like a map and made
deliberate but other lines crowd—short but close,
part of another time and place maybe ripped off
torn and replaced, marked into in another state of being
a place it will find, have to find its way, a shift into being from being other.
If the pencil shifts onto the paint it’s ok, just harder to make it go over the texture
of the canvas so much more rough than rice paper soft under the feet
the shift of a pencil because it was jostled or left off to watch the rain
what to call it if the title comes first these things are the dual nature.
With paint you are offering and asking
the blue paint, the skid of the brayer, the taking away, taking away blue.

These poems are from a work in progress based on ideas/ phrases taken from Simone Weil’s notebook.
Carol Ciavonne’s poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Boston Review, Colorado Review, New American Writing, Concīs, and How2, among other journals. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Poetry Flash, Xantippe, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and Entropy. She is the author of Birdhouse Dialogues (LaFi 2013) (with artist Susana Amundaraín) and a collection of poetry, Azimuth (Jaded Ibis Press 2014). Ciavonne has also collaborated with Amundaraín on several theater pieces, and has worked with the innovative The Imaginists theater group in Santa Rosa, California.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.