Laurie Blauner

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Counting Beards

Nature repeats itself, stones resemble planets, which resemble the round organs of my body. I’m waiting to fall asleep, creating creatures who can play tricks, who have a variety of brain-like hair that covers their face or a torso. In the darkness our words hover.

I want to key you, he declares, his hand crawling through blankets.

Sheets rustle but it doesn’t help. If I do dream, it is about a naked man, covered in fur, on a horse. He is both silly and disgusting, with bits of his latest meal caught in his curly hair. I’m on the ground in an ancient forest where I’ve lived for years. I recoil.

What are you trying to prove? I inquire.

I have so many selves, the face buried beneath an old-fashioned hat answers.

Pick a new one, I command.

But your other selves circle around me, taunting. They move faster, then slower. I list the ways of fashion, the old suddenly new again, a merry go round. I’m laughing, stumbling eventually onto grass. The revolving roundabout reminds me of water rushing in a whirlpool or a beating heart. I close my eyes. I have forgotten about gravity. I’m counting all the hidden mouths. After my imagination leaves, sleep arrives.

My Feet Dance Without Me

My feet, making widening spirals, have the smallest interactions with the floor. I smile, borrowing a face. I’m almost in position, smattered with sweat among the music, which comes in all shapes and sizes. I am an archival handkerchief, with a body that can’t wait anymore. I show my teeth. My hair is verdantly wilting.

You tell me, You are a puppet.

Maybe, I blurt, scissoring my legs.

I am full of jumps and lies and too tired to eat my measly food. I wrap my wounds and ribbon my bruises. At night I believe I wake up in the reception area for a sleep clinic where my name is never called. When I venture back out into the night, I see that the moon has no arms or legs to express itself. We are both parts of a ritual, a tradition.

I give an audience my throat. I don’t need complete sentences since so little concludes as everything is always in transition. I grow older by the minute. This staggered conniption, like so many things in life, is a turning toward someone else’s mirror and a realization that the body there is yours.

When Can You Take Me Away?
For Rebecca Luncan

The rabbit falls out of the landscape painting, hanging on the wall in my living room. It lands, plop at my feet, scurrying away from its smaller, unmoving companion left behind. I am the one who would never leave the forest, tree branches sighing and filling in the rabbit’s newly empty space, where moths hesitate and roses bloom.

I lecture the new creature, Stars are slowly dying, animals are becoming extinct, and a virus is raging. What are you doing here?

The rabbit hurries away from me, perhaps defying the laws of gravity. But then I hear it singing in the bathroom with a high, shrill voice. It could be in the shower or curling underneath a toilet or sink. I live alone. First I press my hands over my ears, then I listen and other sounds follow, barking, squeaking, thumping. I sit in a crooked chair and wait to see its glossy, white, and black fur, its long ears, its dark stony eyes. I don’t know its intentions as I chase it. It is muscular and fast. It seems to have much to say and I’m lonely.

I explain, I won’t hurt you, whether you are real or not.

It doesn’t answer me yet.

I follow it as it explores my apartment, wondering if it would prefer another shape or another place. Right now I will learn how to live with it.


Laurie Blauner is the author of five novels and eight books of poetry. A book of hybrid nonfiction called I Was One of My Memories is forthcoming from PANK Books and a new novel called Out of Which Came Nothing is available from Spuyten Duyvil Press.