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Mathias Svalina

How did we survive?
They say the new paint does not match the old paint.
After the accident, the beds of nails.
After the blackberries, a lacewing fly.

They say the gas masks
were hidden in the berry patch.
The chokedamp floated
from the mine's mouth.

Was the chokedamp equal
to the toad's dead eyes?
Was the lacewing fly?
Was the lacrimator?

The blackberry sap
is impermeable,
is a gelatin of neon.
Go to it. We must finish this boredom.

You can build glass out of the color blue.
I do not understand this
but I believe, like a praying mantis,
that it is true.

You can see how the glass is a
wasp cocoon spackled to a leaf
of tomato hornworm. These berries
are like parentheses, commas.

The doors are blue. The carburetor blue.
The windows blue. The sweater
in the back seat is brown, almost beastly,
with a thin stripe of yellow.

At this point in time is blue.
We should tip the berry bushes with flies' wings.
The ozone tickles my sore throat.
Can convert in decay, can rubbish heap.

How did we survive the topiary?
How did the topiary survive the early frost?
It is a narrow gap.

Breathed in. The bushes bleed
your wrists. The mine's mouth
is a boy's body goaded from vapor.

The blackberry skin has the touch
of wrist hair to sunned lips.
Berries cluster like chain links.

Berries choke the lungs.
Berries pulp the pyramids
of hornets & punctuation.

How did we survive?
Your lips were stained blackberry.
How did we taste this boredom?

Yes: an exaltation, an unkindness, & a knob.
Yes: rasp, choke, wine, & seethe.
Yes: ozone, neon, helium & cyanogen.

A mouthful of ladybugs.
Send me a fever of dictionaries.
Prevent the word from forming a verb.

A bottle of butane in the back seat
depletes the garden's stakes.
Purify, rarify: writing, written.

Reed grass & timothy,
tildens & question marks.
The blackberry bush shakes like
a school of fish.

Of melting richness, a union
of several hundred fruits.
The shattered windshield
like a tiny glass of berry juice.

How did we survive?
The commas & dashes spittling
the drupes, the squeak
of glass cracking into flies' wings.

The chokedamp lingers
at the sevens & zeros
of the windows.
The neon, a swollen calyx.

The overripe berry of the body
& the meadowgrass
of slashed sentences
crumble into wet clay.

The commas in the mulch.
The commas, as in the blackberries.
The windshields, & yes, the purple martins.
The lacewing flies will not survive.

The berries & bedding
linger in the chokedamp.
How did we survive this boredom? This garden?
The garden child grieved, still with hinder.

Not with periods. Not with blackberries
staining the thumb. These windshields,
blue, flies' wings & mold. No more berries.
No more commas. Ozone, neon.

Mathias Svalina

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