you are in the diode archives diode v5n2



Zero hour

The engineers line up and the machines line up.
The high schools line up outside, in the town, where students line up also.
Along the edge of the city there is a line of pink and silver light.
You can look at the map all you want. The city
isn’t there and the beginning of day isn’t there, the factories
aren’t there and the students aren’t there.
Make room for this country that doesn’t show up on maps.
Here, we’ve picked up all the numbers.
The transparency of numbers.
A perfect fuel.
Everything that isn’t there we call a zero.
Engineer zero, machine zero, high school zero, student zero, city
zero, light zero, day zero, country zero, map zero, number zero.
We’re waiting. We’re not sure why you’re here,
you with your single spine a total assertion of one.


Big questions

Why this insistence on the century.
Why the return to fields where human bodies died?

It should be enough to watch the sulphur lights turn off and on through your    window.
Down the street lights go on in houses too.

But we know the century was everywhere.
Every house has hands, every hand is a flower, every flower marks a grave, every    grave is five graves.
All those bodies of everyone, everywhere, always.

How can this day be different from any other?
We have moved the fields again and hope no one will see them.

Some people are seeing them of course but we hope no one will see them.
They move over the fields in their slow dresses and with their hands.

The century sees them.
We have been imagining the century far away.

The century is among us now. It moves with a force we can barely estimate.
The hand of the century touches the bodies.
No place is too far away, it says.


Ukrainian scientists split the atom

We were fixed in a westerly orientation.

Our focus on the moon, we calculated distances and time.
Inside big labs we got a clear picture,
through the windows in the roof the stars appeared
even in daylight.


                   We scalded
                             our throats       looking at the sky

                   Half the moon emerged like a piece of metal in a blue felt pocket
                   Our privilege was we saw the fibers of things

                   The beginning was a case for new numbers and letters
                   meanwhile certain names were rubbed off the books

                   birds and Americans were also learning new flight


There was no picture in our encyclopedia for FUTURE.
The entry had been partially blacked out by censors anyway.

It was imagined in the noises of unseen animals
moving in bracken, the clear smooth glassware

our hands habitually caressed.


                   —a new day, a silver-tipped pink atomic dawn


Our hands became gloves for handling
the new world’s most precious ore—
beyond our doorways men with uniforms assured us things
were going well. A crow alighted on a train track and was flattened.


                   Our models of the world moved constantly in such directions.


About the invisibility of Comrade Yezhov

An invisibility topped by a fur hat: one thing
we learned was that disappearance was unpreventable
even by voracious cruelty while in power.

He had been advised against pneumonia, against
for instance the train journey he took alone
to the Caucasus, also the wiles of women poets

and drinking too much, alone, too late
at night. Still his persistence in appearing
for official photographs impresses.

Here is the space for Yezhov’s body in front
of the Kremlin, here is a Yezhov-shaped mist
cutting the ribbon across a school’s door.

Here’s the place, right under that same fur hat, where
Comrade Yezhov used to hang himself.
An emptiness of Yezhov, a Yezhov deficiency

not unlike a lack of some essential
mineral, something that aches or gnaws only
a little, when you sit for too long, say, or

when, late at night you find yourself trembling
and wide awake, alert to the sounds in the house
that mark the start of your effacement,

the entrance of a fog the exact dimensions
of your body into each part of the public record,
beginning of a new dictionary entry,

one that certainly begins and ends without
once mentioning your famous name.  


Éireann Lorsung’s first book was published by Milkweed in 2007; a second is forthcoming. Recent work appears in Quarterly West, Cerise Press, The Collagist, Konundrum Engine Literary Review, and Precipitate. An excerpt of a long poem was recently published in Free Verse. For more, see http://www.ohbara.com.