Poetry: Issuance by Caroline Chavatel

The word “Issuance” is defined as the “action of formally making something known”. As readers navigate the difficult terrain that seamlessly blends a logical turn of phrase with the voracious desires of the heart, readers are rewarded with passageway into a deeply intimate inner world: “We are / defined by our absences: our accounts / of madness, the soft beam of / a stranger unaware. The stoplights / keep us in motion, at bay.”




To say the sky is a blanket, too simple.

Of all the ways to define my debts, I

have arrived at simple. I mourn

things I have never owned, need

another word for loss. A cake frosted

recklessly green consumed by one or

ten is still consumed. Daily, we argue

of too much or not enough. We are

defined by our absences: our accounts

of madness, the soft beam of

a stranger unaware. The stoplights

keep us in motion, at bay. The sky

wavering in its hours, a time clock

punching at us, and punching.



I punch at imaginary ghosts,

their constant haunt. It is too

simple to say our bodies

are blooddreams we are working

through. I keep myself warm

with the notion of stability—how

even dirt can maintain itself

without the advice of the sun.

O disturbance: how might I

make of myself something

unwavering? Nothing like a tree, I take

root in the logic of your worn hands.

O stage, your late, late nature.

I dazzle in this late stage, on this.



Zazel comes to me late in a dream: not

a god or symbol of. Not in the way

one might see the red heart of

emergency flash. Not nearly as

crucial. Rather, I dazzle

toward casual questions—how

might I fix the mechanical, material?

O machine—no. Zazel, how might

I balance myself as a fish on a spear,

both gasping and accepting of some

inevitable chance? Somedays, the

sky is red as fishblood, as new fire, as

bright and appealing as the promise

of primary and urgent survival



Of late, these urgent exercises

of desire. I do not wish to be

nihilistic—I love emptiness and emptiness

loves my love for it. My life is nothing

like a circus. My life is everything like—

For instance, the birds outside advertise

their nature, air into miracle, have escaped

the necessity of roots and I announce

them in their landing, their names. We invent

sounds for how their fat might sizzle in a pan

defined by our tongue’s nonattendance.

It is too simple to say I want there instead.

How I lack.

How I.



How you and I walk the trail,

count the things we’ll never

own. You tell me about the small

house your parents bought with cash.

We will never afford such stability. How

we mourn the future gone but never

owned. We have learned that elegy is always

creeping at the frames, tempting us

with that dare of loss, that even the house

we form is made from our lack, the wet

amateur sculpture of us. And it is

beautiful. It rests on a hilltop. Has

a solarium. Allows us to see the sky,

all its tiny-winged holes.




There are holes in the logic

of how we accumulate in the and/or.

How it began: a clash / a bang /

disruption to the sky /divine / not

divine / gas and dust / speculation / rock

and mantle / some delicious crust /

dough that shaped us damp and full

of want / green / envious / gravity

/ blue and full / of lack /

a smart investment / the Genesis

of a lab /obsession / brutality /

the grime in the corners of the galaxy’s

kitchen, scrambling for its own erasure,

the arrival of dinner guests.




This is the arrival of dark. The sky

a navy blanket stitched with bone-colored

beaming. Or perhaps a round-top tucking

us into our sleep. We border on

the impossible. It is too simple

to say a circus. Rather, a spectacle

we sound out with familiar shapes

and turns. Your tongue is in parts:

my hip-bone juts into the crevices

of your neck as the room goes

dark. I am trying to find a way

to utter distance without using

mile or minute. I am trying

to make sense of our space.



To make sense of our space, I have

started blaming longitude for

our daily shortages. I measure even

my body in distance: I long for—

I long. I am short-changed for touch,

count the blue coins of your eyes

in exactly two (always two). Some days,

there is no difference between one mile

and thousands. I keep myself entertained

with my own hunger: a game of full and empty

that commands no movement, that brings

me no closer to wealth—your blue

waterfront, no closer to knowing

my body’s shifting debts.



I waver between debts. The moon, full

or hungry, still collects our interests. We love

despite the varying awnings of light—

tearing at the delicate home of ourselves,

nailing our broken shards together again.

If I have you when I don’t have you. If.

I’d touch your face in this dark room.

Some days our distance is the main event; I

prepare the cannon, contorted and shot

from its cavity like a star rising

and falling like music toward an open

bank of teeth and fire, but here.

I settle into your arms from

somewhere else, have the means.




What I mean: I await what never fails

to return: the tree greening in its spring, birds

recurring. My days are measured

in Jacksons per hour and how I spend,

O how I spend. Outside, the afternoon

moody and exposing its fissures

to us, shifting from rain to sun to rain.

I do not believe we owe each

other a thing. We are made whole by our

fluctuations. Again, rain turning

the dirt a liquid asset. Task: make

of myself a casino, unchanging in

its dark, unable to detect the distance

between my big and small hand.




You admire my hands: the wild

animal of me that performs. Tricks

were not Astley’s invention, but an

audience. He built them with

his cavalry hands, wove the delicate

constructions for show. The circus

merely a transplanted heart, pulsing

in the chest of a new building, fleshed

out for the stories of the nouveau

cirque. We have interest in the new.

And the horses’ galloped into this

Gilded-Age product: fetlock, hock,

hoof. And they were wanted. My body’s

tricks are of my own invention.





I invent ways to make it simple:

substitute longing for long walks

and acrobatics for a solitary stretch. What

if I built us a wooden arena for our

stunts, secured a canvas tent in the living

room for the days that might

tumble through us? Competition

as fierce as a caged animal. Profit

as evergreen. We could compete

with the outside: my mouth

swallowing the edges of town, bills

disappearing like they do. I would

cradle the soft display of love in

my dough-covered hands, let

us rise and rise.




Together, we rise from bed in yesterday’s

clothes with the blankets knotted, the sky

as simple as ever. I am trying to find

a way to say I do not want to abide.

The dishes wait for us. The laundry does.

We labor over the small fractures

of habit. Your smell and the memory

of it are no different. My hands reach

out and you lift me up. These private

stunts. You want to keep

us on the rise, show our faces off

to no one but our own

modest selves tomorrow

and then tomorrow and then.





To say the sky is a blanket, too simple,

so I punch at imaginary ghosts. Zazel

comes to me late in a dream but not

of late. We exercise our urgency:

how you and I walk the trail

with holes in our logic.

This is the arrival of dark and the sky

makes sense of our space. I waver

between debts. The moon, full.

What I mean: I await what never fails

and you admire this: the wild I invent,

a way to make it simple: we rise

from bed in yesterdays.

Caroline Chavatel

Caroline Chavatel is the author of White Noises (Greentower Press, 2019), which won The Laurel Review’s 2018 Midwest Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Sixth Finch, Foundry, Ninth Letter, and Poetry Northwest, among others. She is co-founding editor of The Shore, an editor at Madhouse Press, and is currently a PhD student at Georgia State University where she is Poetry Editor of New South.

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