Fred Schmalz

Several Combustions

  1. Here they forget how a horse stands
  2. moments after being born. A woman
  3. holds her breath and the flash
  4. funnels light into her eye. There
  5. it turns upside down and spits back
  6. a railway’s pair of tracks. In her head,
  7. the world is full of parallels.
  8. An accident waits just out of sight
  9. beyond earshot arriving most often
  10. at meal times or cycling across
  11. the parquet plaza by the license bureau.
  12. Storefronts. Storm fronts. Some trigger
  13. in the tile pattern casts her
  14. into wreckage. She is not injured
  15. but she is surrounded by rent bodies,
  16. bent joists. She smells gasoline and rubber,
  17. sees through black smoke. Then she disappears
  18. into a streetcar’s path, believing
  19. she will be reincarnated as a book of matches.
  20. People will walk away before
  21. she is struck, even though she is on fire.
  22. The papers will report
  23. other incidents of arson
  24. in the neighborhood: two teens
  25. rubbing their incendiary crotches
  26. together in the patio darkness; a housewife
  27. immolated by a jar of pills. She saddens
  28. faced with buckets of sand which leave
  29. her desires hidden, what is and isn’t
  30. fire reduced to her brilliant neck,
  31. two otherwise straight lines bent.
  32. Everything else is glass
  33. or neon gas inside glass
  34. or slab on slab of marble.
  35. She can barely stand heaven
  36. cleaving the living from the rest.