by Adam Dickinson

Paperback(New Edition)

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The poems of Anatomic have emerged from biomonitoring and microbiome testing on the author's body to examine the way the outside writes the inside, whether we like it or not. Adam Dickinson drew blood, collected urine, swabbed bacteria, and tested his feces to measure the precise chemical and microbial diversity of his body. To his horror, he discovered that our "petroculture" has infiltrated our very bodies with pesticides, flame retardants, and other substances. He discovered shifting communities of microbes that reflect his dependence on the sugar, salt, and fat of the Western diet, and he discovered how we rely on nonhuman organisms to make us human, to regulate our moods and personalities.

Structured like the hormones some of these synthetic chemicals mimic in our bodies, this sequence of poems links the author’s biographical details (diet, lifestyle, geography) with historical details (spills, poisonings, military applications) to show how permeable our bodies are to the environment. As Dickinson becomes obsessed with limiting the rampant contamination of his own biochemistry, he turns this chemical-microbial autobiography into an anxious plea for us to consider what we’re doing to our world -- and to our own bodies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552453643
Publisher: Coach House Books
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Adam Dickinson has published three books of poetry. His most recent book, The Polymers, was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Poetry.

Read an Excerpt



In order to test your body for the range of
chemicals you have requested, you will need to
send in approximately 62 mL of serum
(equivalent to about 150 mL of whole blood)
and approximately 6 mL of urine. Both the
urine and serum should be sent in amber glass
jars and cooled to below 4 degrees C. Using
the morning void would be best. There are no
other restrictions besides making sure that the
serum sample does not come into contact with
any Teflon.

Mono-ethyl phthalate Urine 6. 46 ng/mL

A real estate agent's unventilated office in a
suburban strip mall. The cab of a half-tonne
humid with take-out. A burned-out bathroom
off the meeting rooms for a climate change
conference in Medicine Hat. Try to place the
chemically manufactured smell of fruits and
flowers and you find yourself on a debris flow
into the uncanny valley. Like the creepy
there's-a-knife-missing smile of those alert,
oversized vinyl dolls for children, synthetic
Mango is an overly macheted smell, too
rigidly insistent on narrowly defined versions
of vacation sex and culturally appropriated
tropical breezes. Aloe Blossom is almost
certainly an assassination attempt. It never
succeeds, of course, because it emanates too
much performance anxiety, gives away the
game by forgetting to flick its ash. Pumpkin
is like hugging your grandmother,
inhaling deeply, only to feel some of the
stuffing emerge from the crease in her neck.
Real fruit smells are handwritten notes soaked
with sweat and read by the light of a flesh
wound. They announce depth of desire,
ripeness to act, and cultivated memories built
out of carefully lit sugars. Synthetic fragrances
barely recall anything except our untimely
deaths at the hands of uniformed interiors in
which every recollection becomes a plastic
spoon wearing a mouthful of canned laughter.
They appear in our cells like crayons
misshapen and melted to the seat of a car
parked in the sun.

Mono-n-butyl phthalate Urine 30.9 ng/mL

The young men are laughing as they enjoy
having the bodies of men. At the hotel pool bar
they pollinate each other with urine containing
microscopic pieces of their own skeletons.
Free testosterone circulates within them like
motor oil making rainbows in the heads of
parking spaces. They are not women. Say
otherwise and they will fight you. They will
fight you wearing aftershave and cologne.
They will come at you through mousse and
gearshifts, steering wheels and air fresheners,
through fragrances, hair gels, and blood bags.
They will advance on you through stabilized
rubbers and resins, including nitrocellulose
and polyvinyl acetates, soft gloves, jelly
vibrators, and PVC pants. They will take you
through slow dermal exposure, through their
corresponding monoesters in the gastro-
intestinal tract, through excreted metabolites in
their piss. They will kick your ass through
androgen receptors and blocked endogenous
hormones causing urogenital malformations.
They will fight you. And they will shout down
testicular dysgenesis! Down hypospadias!
Down cryptorchidism! They will be sweating
now and you will hardly recognize them,
holding their limp bathing towels as industry
lobbyists try to rally fishermen against
chemical bans by telling them they will lose
their flexible worms. The young men are
glistening with sweat that comes out of them
like browsing history. The things they touch
touch them back, leaving small oil slicks
inside that throw up rainbows in the signals to
their glands. They are not women. They will
fight you. They believe this with the narrative
authority of an intravenous drip.

Table of Contents

Anatomic 9

Hormone 11

Specimen 14

Agents Orange, Yellow, and Red 15

Specimen 16

Fruit Belt 17

Hormone 18

Specimen 20

Galactic Acid 21

Hormone 22

Mouthfeel 25

Specimen 27

Integrated Pest Management 28

Specimen 30

Δ 31

Lipids 32

Specimen 42

Shotgun, Called It 43

Commensalism 45

Hormone 49

Specimen 50

Hormone 51

OCD 52

Specimen 53

Circulation 54

Specimen 55

It Turns Out the Starting Material for the Earliest Forms of Life Is a Carcinogen 56

Specimen 58

Hormone 59

Specimen 60

A String of Small Pearls 61

Hormone 63

Specimen 64

The People of Grassy Don't Have a Mercury Problem, They Have a Drinking Problem 65

Specimen 66

A Minor Excretory Organ 67

Specimen 68

By All Means, Sure, Certainly, Absolutely 69

Specimen 70

Northern Planing Mills 71

Hormone 72

Gut-Brain Axis 74

Specimen 75

Outside Inside 76

Disruptors 77

Hormone 89

You Might Not Think That You Do This, But You Do 90

Hormone 91

Specimen 93

Scale 94

Hormone 95

Heterotrophics 97

Hormone 98

The Cleanse 100

Hormone 103

A Bromide 104

Specimen 105

Parts Per Billion 106

Hormone 107

The Women Favoured the Smell of Shirts from Men Whose Immune Systems Were Most Different from Their Own 108

Hormone 110

Interkingdom Signalling 111

Specimen 112

Hormone 113

Pack Your Bags 115

Hormone 116

Spectrum 118

The Sun Can Kill You 119

Vitamin D 120

Meat Sweats 121

I Hope You Are Feeling Better 122

Hormone 123

Independent Variables 124

Specimen 125

Hormone 126

Metabolic Poetics 129

Notes 145

Acknowledgments 149

About the Author 151

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