PRIOR

JAMES BERGER

BLAZEVOX[BOOKS] Buffalo, New York

Prior by James Berger Copyright © 2013 Published by BlazeVOX [books] All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews. Printed in the United States of America Interior design and typesetting by Geoffrey Gatza Cover art: ‘Kyoto Memories’ by Cynthia Beth Rubin. First Edition ISBN: 978-1-60964-131-3 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012956021 BlazeVOX [books] 131 Euclid Ave Kenmore, NY 14217 Editor@blazevox.org

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In the Shape of Breathing 1. What have I lost— the whole fucking deal that’s what— a question to squelch What’s the paucity? the petition to regulate green in dereliction What’s the full tree? full space, full of open, open. Open. Open. right ear flickers large sloppy meticulous ringing clusters nerving the left eye the right eye the middle hand arm to the brain relief from all that

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2. Old attempts fail and the daughter leaves to crawl toward the mountain’s ruin vacant stomach frozen on a stalk and bruised as if here as if not as if not material.

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3. The transcript is lost she’s collapsed on the floor screaming, pounding the floor: where is it? why is it gone? It’s all I have, my father’s words. The body is gone. The voice is gone. The body is gone and the symbol is gone. The graduation photo is lost the news clipping is lost the story she wrote is lost the picture from the ski trip is lost the transcript is lost.

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4. The body is gone and the symbol is gone— Language is sliding. large territories bound ground slides all that can be ungrasped. Nothing so direct as death? But dying— There’s a meander.

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5. Stop on the next stone to reach an abstraction— A hum or a buzz still the mouth forms a shape that unstates. She returns to the volcano every day or so; life of the heavy footsteps, parallel to the river, flat stones across the stream. Set forth, leave it. Cross it; step across.

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6. We carry voices and place them on his body: do we think we’re stationary as he departs? things press things declare in the aggregate monitors, precise sounds of obscure significance she kisses him on the face, on the thin hair

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7. The body consumes itself in every language the body’s emptiness swollen the door is burning

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8. sudden appearance of birds furious showers into many darkening how to run in a vestibule at any time feeling you can wake up by deciding to, just— saying, I’ve had enough, let me move, let me breathe.

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10. Somewhere, someone is writing this. There, when he stands or sits up, a newly mordant little creature lifts its paw, explains why the boxes and the ceiling and the fires in the leaf piles are so busy, what it feels like when the wind singes his father’s eyelashes.

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The cats won’t keep still, The cats won’t keep still, always trying to eat the little boy going to sleep on the cot. He asks his father, “am I oedipal?” “Of course not, no one will harm you,” he lies; or he may not know. The horses of instruction plod from house to house; the father listens with happiness as the puma suffocates his child.

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Prior to Earth the other species contributed the excavation took shape a mound was formed beside the ditch and we pulled from the ditch an enormous wooden frame we said, was it you, was it your people? The frame was caked in dirt we could see indentations, were there jewels there had it been connected to some machinery?

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