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 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 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.