Cathexis Northwest Press
Behind the Dissatisfaction; The Tubes; That Particular Line in the Sunset
By: Rhys Daly
Behind the Dissatisfaction
Somewhat melancholic I play a jaw harp
its tongue rattling against our canines
you’ve ground to a friendly shape
antagonizing my reflection.
My head aches.
I rattle around my room clacking my teeth
The pink glare from the windowsill
casting shadowy domestication
across our toes
finds solace in the hotspot in the carpet
taking note of which ridges no longer meet.
What is this body?
Something tearing open your left sleeve
with our dark thumbs.
What is this body?
Not a temple to worship at,
but a shrine for remembrance.
Summer is the line hovering above my palm.
I press my teeth into it and wonder-
What is the shape of my hip?
Could I force my jaw into it?
Our warm hip against my cheek-
My legs are a gartered bundle of twigs,
a collection of individuals
into a construction I’ve called natural.
My pulse is a flickering subway chandelier
I wrestle it down to the yellow caution line.
You have finally felt my body.
Find me beyond the tracks.
My toes are the prickling cracks in the window
I massage them into the textured vinyl.
You have heard my whistling beneath the doors.
Find me beyond the tracks.
My mouth is a grease stained strap in the ceiling
I thread myself through it and feel the familiar gape.
You have seen me in the flailing of your limbs!
Find me beyond the tracks!
Am I a vessel of blood?
A vessel of our mind
Am I a fountain of lymph?
A fetish of ourself
Not only a container?
I catch a hint of you in the ceramic,
a vein draped over a knuckle,
a line in our brow you can’t massage away
before my heaving begins to drown you.
If I empty this beautiful vessel,
will you fill me with sinew
or spatter me like vomit on the tile?
That Particular Line in the Sunset
I’m a strawberry pervert.
Pink drips run
and wallow in the crook of my elbow,
a puddle where a butterfly might taste butter mint.
There’s something lewd in lapping
something new and sweet
and I am desperate.
My eyes flex,
jaws and wings flap,
and the rare spots on my face
look ripe to be licked before they leave.
The pink hidden in my lower eyelids is subtle
I am soft with heat
and you are so heavy
I am here
and I am hollow,
bursting with a gaping-ness
shoveling the world into me
I drip as you lap -
But it pours!
We may gape until the sun rises,
don’t be afraid.
I will drip.
Rhys Daly is a queer Asian-American Seattle area writer and actor who wishes he lived even closer to the ocean. His work often explores discomfort, uncertainty, identity, acceptance, and the wonder in the mundane. When he’s not hunched over a coffee table furiously memorizing lines or scribbling up poems, he can be found walking moodily down a city street looking for his next bit of inspiration. Other works can be in Volume Four, Issue 3 of Rigorous Magazine, as well as the Fall 2020 issue of Short Vine Journal. His debut poetry collection Shedding will be out December 31st 2022 through Unsolicited Press.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry on and off since I was something like fourth grade, but didn’t start taking it seriously as a personal art form until 2019. I remember one of my earlier poems was about how I disliked beets (I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten a beet at that point) and as I type this, I am enjoying a beet salad I made. I guess that’s called character progress!
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
RD: Love Is When a Boat Is Built From All the Eyelashes in the Ocean by Zachary Schomburg. I had to read it for the one creative writing class I took in college. The things it made me feel were…complicated. I didn’t understand it at all, yet it made me feel at peace somehow. It’s still my favorite poem five years later. I know it by heart and actually have tattoos on my forearms that my sister did for me inspired by it!
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
RD: Of course Zachary Schomburg, Love Is When a Boat Is Built From All the Eyelashes in the Ocean. I adore his sense of humor and love of the macabre. Federico Garcia Lorca, Romance Sonámbulo aka Sleepwalking Ballad and his play Bodas de Sangre aka Blood Wedding. Every time I read his work I feel pure longing, it’s really beautiful. I have an ex whose first language is Spanish and I used to have him read Lorca to me. Nothing beats hearing a work in the original language! A variety of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets because I’m a theatre kid at heart. Richard Siken, The Way The Light Reflects. Billy Collins, The Art Of Drowning. Kevin Kantor, Character Study: Cesario Helps Ganymede Redress in the Dark. And while I haven’t read more of her work, Naima Yael Tokunow’s chapbook Shadow Black is excellent!
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
I usually begin my work from a free write, trying my best not to think too much about meaning or flow, nothing, just get the words out on the page. Then I leave it alone for a week or so and come back to it to find the meaning/themes buried within. I adore the human ability to find meaning in anything, even if it was created with absolutely no intent, and that’s how I approach my own work. While I usually have a specific goal in mind once I’m in heavy editing, I generally believe that my work can be interpreted in more ways than one.
I often have a difficult time finding “the zone” and setting aside time specifically for writing. And when I do, I’m easily distracted. My thoughts generally get muddled and wander to everyday concerns like whether or not I need to do laundry again. One way I found helps me stay in it longer is by setting an absurdly short timer, like 5-10 minutes, and telling myself “commit really hard to focusing just for this short, short amount of time”. Then the timer goes off. Sometimes my brain says “yes, that’s truly all we can commit to right now, move on” but more often it goes “wait, I had one more thing to put down!” so I restart the timer to put my last thought down, and by the time it’s down I usually have another. Then the cycle goes maybe one more time then I stop setting the timer and just let myself write because my brain is finally in the zone.
How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
The vast majority of my work begins with no form. They usually begin as pure stream of consciousness, then I try to find the conversation within and use whatever form would most serve that.
That said, I am interested in being much more intentional with my form. I don’t have a lot of formal education in writing and I’ve been experimenting with a little more structural discipline in my work. I guess maybe I would say I’m trying to be more intentional about form.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
RD: It’s okay to not know your voice yet. I still don’t know exactly what mine is either. Don’t let impostor syndrome get to you and stop you from exploring, your art is worth it!
What is your editing process like?
Once I’m editing, I usually sit down at a cafe, put my headphones in but don’t play any music, and just go for it. A lot of my work starts at a note on my phone, but I transfer it to a paper notebook as soon as I can then just start crossing things out, drawing lines between and circles around words that thematically connect, it’s a bit chaotic! I also tend to mumble it out loud to myself, I find speaking out loud helps where I choose to break lines.
I try not to overwork a piece. If I find myself fussing too much and stressed out about how to make it “just right” I step away from it for at least a week, then come back hopefully with a fresh perspective.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
I feel like I never actually know. There are pieces that I “finished” years ago that I re-read and think “This is entirely unresolved, and not even in an intentional, fun, and thought provoking way. What was I thinking?”. But when it’s not that, the piece is usually finished when I find the central “question” of the piece has either been “answered” or revealed to not have been the question at all.