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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

A Sublunary Tone; Other-Lunary Waters; Localized Necrotic

By: Jonathan Pierce

A Sublunary Tone

To forgive a debt. Water.

Releases. Opens catchment to

A punctuation. Maybe mineral, at slightest:

A flavor. Of filling up. Then a centralizing

Bone-cold not chalky though mineral.

Deep magnesium to iron. Not hearts

Precisely. Functional grouping: reduced

relatives: loose ligands, attached then to

“No tubers, no winter squash, no

rice or wheat or trees, of course.”

Attached to centers omitted for clarity—

Donne’s sublunary. Atones if. Ionizes of.

A masonry of disappointment

Appointing then (to a system of—

The styrofoam creaking. Under weight:

Chipmunks, in this dumpster. Of. Then.

Leaves. A chemical ordination. Dropping

Dull compass points. Talking eaves, comic

And the publication of fresh decision types.

Speaking. Passes. An Idaho in passing

to refund. Think: water in the sense

of taste. Its distaste: airs countervailing.

To act of parting company. Say: steric hinderance.

Say an arrangement of closeness never closing.

Other-Lunary Waters

The secondary here.

An egg-fat moon. Clouds, thin and planar. Always

A watery cow’s-eye and a razor-blade to me now.

You’ve seen Chien Andalou. Know, at least, Dalî.

Perhaps less likely Buñuel. Or the Lorca anxieties.

The floating cardinality: how north is only

And now always the towards a canyon flows

Out and down: wet opals and this co-opalescent:

A geometry to defy and underwrite

What wisdom belongs of ledgers.

A distressed crystal: stuttered train-whistles

Lonely in the black-wet distance that attends

Any true question of any presiding teleology.

There are orange candle-nights in the sky

because there is wet water in it.

Orange because it reflects our better filaments

in a sort distended back to us.

How does it come that most films are now

color-corrected to tangerine and cobalt.

This is hardly my insight. It’s been percolated thoroughly

breathing admission in etherized mnemonics.

What is an onion but wet skins:

the matroska dialect of loose earth.

What is a kettle but a strategy:

not counting moments until they sing.

Pluripotent and actualized, by little onion-seams, we tire of analogy.

We are damp and little else, by percents, because we speak wet blue:

Localized Necrotic

Which is a complementary gesture.

It is said Sir Thomas Elyot said he said said said

“The body is infarced with […] watery humours.”

And Sir Thomas Elyot (c. 1490—26 March 1546)

Who I said say said must bear relation to the other

Thomas Eliot, OM, that water makes us hollowed

Men merit miniscule carpiscule but vestibule

Which is a kind of shoe that resembles said

entrance to another bodily space still which

(medicine, anatomy, by extension) also said

And I have been thinking but not saying said

An earthenware jar is this where water waits

Having waited said pockets into dry bodied

Land withered by abundance of to say said

An infarction is a stuffing swelling flooding

To say noun verb is to ark the Noahed animal


Jonathan Pierce is a second-year MFA candidate in the poetry cohort at University of Montana, as well as an MA candidate in the literature department and an instructor of rhetoric and composition in the college. His recent writings have concerned, at instances, the comorbidities of water and the petro-fueled plastocene anti-politics of Lana Del Rey.

“Since moving to the interior west several years ago (first Arizona, now Montana), I have been frequently thinking and writing through the ways in which water and communicative media correspond at levels of both fluidity and precarity (among other equivalencies). It is no stretch to say water and the word share the same or many cathectic channels—though parsing out just how when why is where the poetry comes. Each of these three poems addresses, in differing manner, these concerns—with the first two pieces operating in a definitional couplet form in which I've been experimenting, hoping to embody or enact this mirroring correspondence.

The first piece, “A Sublunary Tone”, emerged—as much of my poetic work does—from the critical work I do alongside. In this case, I was reading Marilynne Robinson’s exquisitely-haunting Housekeeping, had just finished Craig Childs’s The Secret Knowledge of Water, and still had Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus (from which the quoted material is drawn) in mind. With all three texts (as well as Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife), I was working towards a thesis regarding what I call “the rules of our aqueous formation” (channeling Foucault) and the way in which a persistent tension about this fluidity’s beneath thus propositionally haunts past our surfaces of movement and waiting.

Such thoughts likewise haunted the second piece, “Other-Lunary Waters”; but, where the first piece introduces Donne’s framework of ethereal/sublunary, “Other-Lunary Waters” troubles this hierarchy, embraces the sublunar, but tries to think through what other logics might be available to us beyond fluid surfaces, but nonetheless without recourse to the ethereal. And surrealist cinema felt like an intelligible jumping-off point for this ontological prodding.

The third piece, “Localized Necrotic”, emerged from another oft-visited, well-dug artesia: etymology and encyclopedia, where archival and indexical logics often forge connections that both shouldn’t and must convey sense. It was originally written in a short burst with three other pieces, but subsequently seemed more at home in this set. The title, and the citation of Eliot, both involve a reckoning: with my history of writing out of Eliot, whose lyric I admire, but complemented and complicated by my more recent attempts to write against Eliot, whose politics I find deeply troubling. I remain interested in how we might write both out of and against things, and to what extent we can write with both antagonism towards and admiration of someone like Eliot.”


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