F. Daniel Rzicznek

from Leafmold

Sweeping the boards again and again. The transition from sunburn to windburn to chill is openly flawed, twelve hours of shift and phase, rattle and quake. A bird in the distance makes a sound like flint being sparked. A part of home: freezer full of future bones. Scott arrives with a care package from the mainland: fresh ice, hard cider, venison sausage. More than anything you learn that gratitude must be endless if you want to survive. A discussion of streams and lakes, bloodtrails, near misses, wolf tracks overwhelming the deeryards, interrupted every so often by the stout tug of a lake trout on a downrigged line. Get that fucker, Scott says, every single time. Later: trouble with the bugs, trouble with thirst, trouble with desire. Cloudy. No moon or stars. No recourse but to sleep in, late and long, without guilt or need for pardon. Every hour seems to move more swiftly than the last, the whole year accelerating as a form of reversed atrophy. Bloom is not the word. Alone with too many thoughts, the brain finds an exterior narrative to bathe in. Red cliffs. No whitecaps. Henrik Ibsen rolls up his sleeves and does the dishes. Dusk falls through his vision for a final time. Accidentally, like a leper. The season puts white on the pines but inside them: always green, always green.

from Leafmold

Wet garlic: five heads set out to dry on a stone in the sun. Learning and relearning how to do just one task at a time, the brain breaks apart, reconfigures and appears the same but what it does is different. Sweeping the boards for the first time. Ants, periodically. Two towels, rust-orange and aquamarine, flap on the clothesline: capes worn by invisible spirits, maybe your guardians, your watchers. Left it on the mainland. That certain noise: noise of certainty. Have to do this again and again to find that. How many more ways to say it. No one knows who you are. But here you are, trying to imagine every fly of morning settling on the self before moving. Easy to mistake the hard croaks of red-breasted mergansers for faraway hammering. A childhood of death: in your dream you rip the bully’s eyes right out and eat them. No trusting the scared-shitless face inside the self after all. Brackets indicate static. Windfall as artifact of storm. Once accustomed, you don’t even look up. But you must. Trouble with the stove, trouble with the kettle. No trouble with the full moon. Just questions about that expression it’s worn for billions of years.

from Leafmold

The self was careful today not to spook the big gull standing over last night’s fish carcass. Interruption as desecration—for no reason at all, the obnoxious Van Halen song in your head all morning. And suddenly it’s afternoon. After a good nap you find the carcass not gone but moved, dragged lower between the boulders, hidden for later. A white tug with red letters you can’t read pumps by trailing a pack of gulls. The clouds track northeast as you boil water to wash towels. There was a planet you once lived on and its pieces and names stick like wet leaves to your hours and days: an arm broken in two places when you were five and how you thought the doctor was laughing as he reset it; even younger, you imagined God as a man in a dark hat snapping his fingers; before that, unshakeable distrusts of bees and balloons. And the names: Normandy, Brunswick, Evamere, Mosquito, Killbuck, Limestone, Silver Meadows, Herrick, Geauga, Captiva, Merry, Pickerel Creek, Wallace. Always some faceless anxiety cruising through memory. Always the self moving out of sight at the sound of its approach.

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s books of poetry are Settlers (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), and he is coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, West Branch, Blackbird, and Colorado Review. He teaches at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.