Winner of the 2011 Colorado Prize for Poetry
Published by the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University
About the Author
Eric Baus was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1975. His books include Tuned Droves (Octopus Books), The To Sound (Verse Press/Wave Books, Winner of the 2002 Verse Press, selected by Forrest Gander), and several chapbooks. He currently lives in Denver.
Read an Excerpt
By Eric Baus
The Center for Literary PublishingCopyright © 2011 Eric Baus
All rights reserved.
Approach the smallest ghost after he has turned his back. A buzz of definition surrounds him. This is the sting of the fleeing beetle. How soon before the house becomes soot? The statue of elderly hornets is delicately connected to the floor. On the other side of the wall an apple hangs suspended. There is no such thing as "There is no ghost."
A ghost's frost blooms inside a glass vase. But what does the swarming sky do? Why has the sound of a boy disappeared? A not-body, not not beaming, resets. Becomes a bee revived with ether. Booming, ten beetle stings make the bottle break. This is a picture of a boy without a mouse. Being animal in the attic grasses.
A clod of spoiled swan applied to his twin fails to infuse the ground with glands. The elated bells in his brain have grown knotted. Even the most active worms refuse to gloss the sod. Has the sun repaired yet? How to solve for its abscess? Behind the bricks is a wall of false glass. Follow the trail to the minotaur stable. Be a diorama.
The sky divided and so did I. I watched my mirror seed a cloud. The house rained. Identical heads echoed. A dead oud's resonance cloned the first presence. An apple in the attic developed a tree. I felt the sun.
I fell into an open field. The clone smiled. I have never seen a clone smile. His snails grew fur. The closest ant grafted the smoke with sand. This is the first piece of wood. This is the first piece of glass. Clouds arranged them behind dead doves. The membrane's séance broke. The doves died again. The dead doves reset. I arranged them into flowers. I have never seen a flower. I have never seen a dove.
The sky and its stills mated. I have never played an oud. I have never said Bird. O snail, I heard outside. When the first dove died, the ouds ate apples. I died too. My glass fermented opals. The second séance failed, my fur glued to flowers. I have never seen a cloud. I have never looked down. The organ smoked. The clone strummed. I fled, immersed in flames. The mirror chimed. Dove. Oud. Field. The bloomed membrane's array split. Inside, the blanks bred herds.
Minus tried to write his own bible. It began, So what, saliva. So what, milk.
Iris told us her dad died in space. The whited-out vowels rang in my ears. Stupid moon. Stupid burned-up blind spot.
The doctors said his name had burned up. We never knew how it sounded.
* * *
The city refused to see my brother. He banged out his nerves on birthdays. I use years, and they remember.
This was in the annex of the indivisible.
Escape your leaves, Minus said. I said, I have never used camouflage. It felt so good to lie, all that noise loosening inside me.
I like lies.
* * *
The burned-up hills had grown more graceful.
I like hills.
They feel like hands.
* * *
When I wasn't looking Iris re-named her tongue. Hey, Solo Swarm.
Her questioning pulled. Why are you always floating?
She said she tried to sign my name but the ink was immature. Stupid minutes.
* * *
The city wasn't looking. This city wasn't old enough to look.
The city said, This city isn't old enough to say.
* * *
Minus told me not to breathe when the doctors floated by. He sat on the floor and covered his mouth. I hid behind the blinds.
This was in the entrance of the opposite pharmacy.
Minus's bible began to speak. Hey, Solo Swarm, it streamed. Iris's saliva was turning sharp, straining itself through her teeth.
* * *
In the organs of her father's owl, Iris heard half of her name.
My brother threw a brick at its head. He was helping his cells divide.
Iris scratched the city's face with the keys she had in her hand.
Whatever the opposite of prophecy was was what I was listening for.
* * *
The city decided to follow me home. Can I ask you a question? it said.
I put my gum in the subway slot to keep it from saying my name.
Hey, Owl Boy, can you hear me? Hey, Mister Face, what's your name?
I would like to be called A DIFFERENT HOUSE. I would like to be oxen and bread.
* * *
Minus water. Minus air. Inside the house with a tree growing through it.
I woke up alone with my feet in the branches. I woke up behind the sky.
The doctors took the needles out without removing my sheet.
Iris was outside holding her breath. My brother had floated away.
* * *
The city appointed a second owl to see if my brother had drowned.
The owl was sifting the blanks in our herd. The city was clovered in sound.
I like noise.
Iris likes space. She thinks it feels like snow.
* * *
My brother returned from the burned-up hills. He contracted a diffident voice.
Whenever I asked him a question he branched. He woke up outside his breath.
* * *
Minus's bible was reading itself. All those invisible vowels.
Crossing out the sky, the landscape stretched, moving the apex of the so-called.
An inverse tone accrued in my tongue. The octave's egress bruised.
* * *
Iris awoke with wool in her mouth. Grass grew over her eyes.
The doctors thought she had seen the bad wheat. She will need a second reading.
Minus's blindness spread to his hands. His fingers were starting to slow.
* * *
Inscribed, blighted, tongue filled with snow. A throat so other I entered my name.
The blotted-out passages hummed. Beetles bloomed underfoot.
This was in the attic of a different house.
I slept throughout the stings.CHAPTER 2
In classical buried-birth narratives, the immersed egg frequently feels both mammoth and absent, sedated with seeds. It says, A cataclysmic dial is upon us.
THE WORM'S FIRST FILM
Two horses climb a hive. The plumage around their waists retracts. I ate mace, one thinks. No one knows I ate mace. His mouth repeats a top lip twice. Don't tell my brother. Please.
A still shows his core is a molting eel. It ekes some light then glows back in its hole. It grows glass from its face. It sleets.
No blinking, he says to himself, through his peel. He blinds his own ivory with the finest lamps. Does he seed a dot of blood? Do his teeth feed leaves? Clouds polish him plush. This is the last fence, dust.
If eels lie vertically inside the statue or old bees coat its surface, a needle will point to the center of my hide. Owls murmured up a piece of green cloth. Hard ash topped me. The birds it entailed peopled the treetops, stripped me of my coos. Un-tuned doves flew elsewhere, worried their drones would shrink inside my ears. A second split occurred when its eyes bloomed red. Votive scores pushed open the view. Here, the street was both omen and throat. The swarming sky sparrowed until day withered, until the statue punched out of its skin. He was wearing his own arms. His house showed. Ants formed and he scorched their trails. Sing rendered. he trilled, Sing posed.
When a canary's aria dredged the fringe from a drowned colt, it inherited its way of breaking apart. Differing is one long moment. We cannot divide its songs.
The first pair of giraffes is the most metallic, but the captive asp in the center of the nest alternates between solid and signified knives. One grew blurred, and must be resisted. Look at it. Look at its tongue. Imagine the back of the thought that it crosses. Why was it so difficult to picture a bird?
* * *
The intensity of elephants should continue beyond the title and merge back into the figure of mud. This lion is, therefore, like the lion following a marionette. Here, their passage is called brothering moss, and elsewhere, the hand that distinguishes between rains. Each finger implies another flame.
* * *
Although there was a bird chirping, the emphasis was still on the ground. New likenesses assemble an absence, an audience of dissident listening, each of their faces quoted, quilted, singing A SOLO FOR SWARMS. The empty sleeves their ears become wander, rehearsing inside of a herd.
A cod ate itself. A cod ate itself and in eating itself dons a clone. The clone burns. The burning clouds. The cod's cloud burst into throngs.
Blurted, The Ur-Mane erupts, combs through growls to the coarsest salt. A thimble full of eggshell plumbs the egresses for slits. I listen for the second salt, to two horns: locked, alloyed. A moan inverts an ant, burns out in bursts. Its lisps form pools, stinging ice, clips of aberrant grass. See how green I can be. So stirred. A stem empties a range of sheep. A still invents its scene. I plead with all the strays to heap. A shark in a mason jar, scared. Such smooth. So screen. I cut to a tree.CHAPTER 3
Whatever poisoned wave stands to block its beginning. Whether torn dove or stunned moth. In the bind. In the polished blank of a sun. How faded our horse is, starts.
Here is how to hand a glass deer a beetle. Here is how to bind the bloom over its mouth. The sun a moth is in a strong clot of ether blinds its antlers. It hollows its ears. Inside is the song a twinned flute splits. A silent gong. An elongated stitch.
A man with a lantern buried the tail of a gored ox in reddened wool. Both sands said this. Minus inscribed, Bathed in salt, a new bus arrives. A cold fit. Should wood be laced into the scene as ash? Embers hot, he saw another fold of the vellum effect. Would his story sleet? Was the elemental udder set to speech? A flayed colt, Iris interred the oration of a thorn. She saw inside the funerary soot. He was tainted to depict the birth of a thrush. He was an only arson, an anvil inside. Iris was cited in cloud position, as Ibis. Ibis, twice the size of a flock. An enemy of ices, her urn became a fish. Had Ibis's urn contained a clone? The story striated, swallowed an asp.
Oxen are bad.
Oxen are bad? Minus adjusted the clone's hand. The hand grew cold. I heard his oud die. Dead, bad oxen.
His shoulder creak caused a sting in my ear. His modes merged, formed a team. Aphid wounds make the house hurt, he said.
My gut needs cake. The seared core tugged. I spoke my title and he hissed: Do not impinge upon my robes. No tent goes untorn.
More glint, these beasts are ill. An abbreviation for beaten.
* * *
More gongs, enough to tear the room apart. Minus decoded "f" with theater pins. Divorced the curved curves chords have.
How would Iris play the hollowed-out end of an ark rack? we hounded. Iris wandered out, assaulted by doves. Teal caskets.
"f" is a forlorn purr. It beguiles dull sentries. The rooms in the fort fit together in a series of steel forgeries. Vials emit a mist of yes. If the clang from the hall revolver dies, hordes unite inside tombs.
His snores blow out lamps. Lest his lungs grow hot.
* * *
These nests end. These nests end, he blurred in his sleep. The cobra button broke loose until his cell glowed negative noon.
Winding the loom like an idiot ant, I tried to reverse the topiary trap.
Day hissed and our teeth tuned in. Our dirty arms got sunny. Quills dragged tongs across our names. I died to walk away. My dead doves reddened. Their puma leered while the coos waned.
Medicine stored in their breath became bulbous. Was cud coalescing?
The story stormed. The shorn grew gills.
* * *
Only Minus's halo remained. Can helium herd? Could aluminum clot? Beastlessness disturbed the din. O corn, we cried instead.
Doubled eels loomed, but what I fished for was a hiss that talked backwards.
Deep in the inert clouds, an analogy splits. A cold sardine awakens. Amber anemones flower shards.
* * *
Is this the ember's big splice? we clanged, as the city's signal burned.
Iris's multiples flung about, wed to interference. Hover longer, eater of bells, every angle ignites a wing.
Mirrored wheat. Thuds.
To deter owls, we use the azure comb. I am tired, says Iris, and the ants are staring. Minus plumbs an urn large enough for all the sentinel's prayers. Ten surly lions.
* * *
This is Minus's House. Bombs infuse blooms here.
When Minus isn't posturing, Iris is queen of the gray distance. Pre-gray, free. As in, Hand me another dosed star. As in, Sing rendered. Sing posed.
* * *
The blood oasis lengthens in the leaves outside. The tomb sends its allies home. Minus and Iris paint over the bones.
When the datura plains revert to "f" Iris instructs her brother to sing "f" but the "f shield" in the ghost's hand lures owls instead.
Minus knots nicely in the fire. Our allies await.
* * *
My system slowed down to place a pleat in the fountain. Nobody moots my calm.
Beasts booed while cranes ate smashed apples.
Minus entered a pensive shadow. Clear molds dented Iris's brain. The tiniest cloud put a plume in my hair.
The imperfect thread of our clinging hands will never blend its theses.
When the opposite scale begins to beehive, we'll feel the hair of The Ur-Mane.
If Minus writhes after a séance, mostly cloud, out in the unscreened air, bees comb his hair. Night heat made his ink weave neon. His cells grew a negative moon. Did serum sprawl during the previous incubation of The Ur-Mane? Honed nils emerged. An orange fur. Born back to beetle gel, he slit the coma's hide.
When Iris was asleep, she was seeing salt, seeing what salt says it is. She was trying to explain "sistence." There was a sifter beside her. An ember, she said. Her reading was a foam reddening, a painting over a page. A film of her tongue, an orange film. A pool to watch while the ground arrived.CHAPTER 4
Two foxes inject the weather with stilts. They fuse to be parsed from their bleating. They seed. There are several kings in a single fox. They haunt one another's brows. They hunt their brains for a broken stinger. A crown of hornets fleeces their phlox.
The Ur-Mane invented a puma mirage. Its ears rang inside its own ears. Stupid purrs. The puma's image lapsed as it foraged for footprints. The silhouette grew large and it spilled. The puma's shadow absorbed a horse. It was called The Blur when it stirred.
Inside Minus's sleeping skull, a clamor diffused an imploded coda.
He heard it through a bruised channel. Voices wrapped in glass.
* * *
Iris's blinks sedated her story. Molting solos, her shards wreathed the sea.
A follower of eels, she steeped herself in ether. Beetle tincture qualmed her hair.
* * *
Abscessed opals in Minus's eyes glossed the ground for waves.
Swallowed thorns recorded the travel of a frozen phoneme's tail.
* * *
Iris decoded the primal sting from a pile of puréed bees.
Their pollen perfumed her tongue with a tomb. Its flowers bloomed sour, interred.
* * *
Minus's ivory cried in his teeth while the oxen's entrails quarreled.
Their marks were made in remaindered sugar. Their hay was a halo of wasps.
* * *
Beyond a patch of occluded pumas, Iris immersed in the river's dredge.
The Blur exhumed its beams as a siren. It minted a signal in weeds.
* * *
Iris reprised Minus's brain with fumes from a pulverized king.
This was the film that forgot how to mirror. The heap scanned as AMBULANCE SCENE.
* * *
Minus's sanctuary had burst. His floor was an acre of snakes.
The most merged lion circled outside. A ghost coterminous with the lantern's demise.
Excerpted from Scared Text by Eric Baus. Copyright © 2011 Eric Baus. Excerpted by permission of The Center for Literary Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
The Worm's First Film,