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If One of Us Should Fall

If One of Us Should Fall

Nicole Terez Dutton
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qh80s
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  • Book Info
    If One of Us Should Fall
    Book Description:

    Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize"Nicole Terez Dutton's fierce and formidable debut throbs with restless beauty and a lyrical undercurrent that is both empowered and unpredictable. Every poem is unsettling in that delicious way that changes and challenges the reader. There is nothing here that does not hurtle forward."-Patricia Smith

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7841-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. THE KILLING WAIT FOR A TELEPHONE HELLO
    (pp. 5-5)
  2. HOLDING US, THIS AWAY
    (pp. 11-11)

    Of sunnyhaired doubt: How it takes a heart down at the knees. When we look at the law we see our own distorted reflections in his mirrored glasses. We stand together examining the burgled side panel, the van window reduced to halo of glitter and crunch on the asphalt, bloody handprints on our ransacked belongings. Silence and hard Utah light rain down on us like hammers. He clears his throat finally and says:What makes you think this was a robbery?

    He takes the report anyway. The hotel management eyes us suspicious, refuses us fresh towels while we safer hole...

  3. WHEN WE GET THERE WE ARE GONE
    (pp. 21-21)

    We can only sing razorblades over the brim of Nashville. Can only permit the fiddle to scrape against something familiar in our blood, to rise all ghosts to the surface, and call our names from the hushed canebrake beyond the gas station’s sad halo of light. Some places need to be traveled through. We know that language won’t survive past Ohio. That we will fall fast and out of time. The fracture will be exquisite. Soy fields and early frost whipping by is what we have. A few hours, and the urge to punch it down to the floorboards, to...

  4. TOURISTS #1: APPROACHING GLORIETTE AT SCHÖNBRUNN PALACE, VIENNA
    (pp. 23-23)

    The museum is an imperial 1,441-room rococo summer palace, and the palace is sprawled like someone thrown headlong from the heavens into lush Viennese countryside. Schönbrunn Palace is in fetal position, cheek in the dirt, and has been for the past three hundred years. Begonias fatly clump at the lip of the stairwell and the stairwell is a marble sneer bringing us into another badly lit rotunda, a rotunda exquisitely throttled with portraits of the Habsburg family. We have elected against the tour. Our legs are tired from wandering the hedge mazes and reflecting pools. The statues are Greek tragedies....

  5. TOURISTS #2
    (pp. 24-24)

    We keep pace and exchange verbs, ideas handsomely placed beneath the creases of a larger circumstance. But we must be going, always. Must sample local pastries and count correct change in the foreign coin. We move through other slow museum watchers. It takes patience to navigate. Thank God we love poetry! That parade of strange, proofless animals. We can absorb the vegetable silences behind the curtains of restored palaces and on wide cathedral steps. Thank God the watchers agree to agree. Some of us, ensconced in pages and concertina piano chords, some of us, in slow flannel mornings, rising with...

  6. WESTWARD, EXPANDED DEFINITION
    (pp. 26-28)

    1. [phenomenon] The redacted “unreasonable.” The manner in which eyebrows vault skyward in disbelief, or in which a knife cleanly slid over flesh becomes tart, uncomplicated language; the sweep of shoreline in repose, a face over coffee or open ocean dreaming in sifted gold. Any shoreline. Any dark interior. Landscape rich with the suggestion of further sky and highways welting vast stretches of wilderness. The price of passage. The hunger to go.

    2. [phenomenon] Gangster syndicate with Queen’s orders, fluent pox like English. The cavalcade movement of men, women and children upon the shores and fanning out. The God upon their tongue...

  7. DESOLATE
    (pp. 29-30)

    La [rare] the abbreviated form of Lola (the woman in a song he often thought he saw reading magazines on trains dense with breath-fogged windows and the wet wool of strangers; a woman to whom he found himself in close enough proximity to notice the spill of freckles galloping in unrecognizable patterns down her neck and wonderWhat galaxy is this?A woman with whom he would never have conversation, a woman, therefore, perfect, and permanently on her way elsewhere, him, hovering at the periphery, therefore, perfect in his loving, the heat from her neck, the dim lavender of her...

  8. PHOTOGRAPH WITH UNNAMEABLE GIRL
    (pp. 35-35)
  9. SEVERAL BLUE AND POSSIBLE ENVELOPES
    (pp. 37-37)
  10. RECURRENT DREAM OF CONSTANT FALLING
    (pp. 41-41)

    Even hog-tied in telephone wire and bleached beyond stars, I love that sky the whole way down. This is New York, grainy black-and-white film; every piece of light singing to the point of static. New York in the days spent sorting archival correspondence run with silverfish. My mouth is crammed with impeccable handwriting. You are alive. Our voices still bright with puppies, rushing past bodega jackfruit and bean pie. We are going to a party and decide on the electric-blue hydrangeas—a snowcone of tiny flowers carried like a torch through a crowd streaming from the subway’s mouth. There are...

  11. THINGS THAT WILL NOT FORGET US
    (pp. 43-43)
  12. CITY OF CANDY-COLORED LIGHT
    (pp. 44-44)
  13. WITHIN THESE SQUARES OF AMERICAN HEAVEN
    (pp. 46-46)
  14. MORE STORIES FOR YOUR CANVAS
    (pp. 47-47)

    More details stretch the canvas, our bright and hurried patches of telephone conversation. There is a new object: By Louisiana all roads taper to a single bridge overlooking alligator glades. Police pulled a man from his car, flung him across the hood like laundry. The traffic surged past, a long parade of non-looking. His head opened somewhere around the eye. A stain spread it’s low red. Keep it going. Nothing to see here. One smashed a gloved hand on our hood and waved us forward. You are listening. Light crumples like wax, a cruel weight kneeling among the azaleas. Dark...

  15. ALMOST NOTE #2
    (pp. 48-48)

    In my photographs you are always 42, solid redwood and laughing. A carnival of hand-me-down stories, such good animals, and our faces worn out, smiling. People in the street remember when. The heart didn’t burst, but filled and filled. The way afternoon turns and gallops into empires of crystallized light. There is always more, a next thing, another act. Always a moment where your shoulders broadly pivot. One last slow dance before the lights come up: it is agreed. And we are again another two among the pairings, harmonized feet and jokes.

    I keep a space between my ribs for...

  16. IT’S ALL TRUE
    (pp. 52-52)

    (Let’s say I’m sayingWhen I love you I am admiring the fingerprints of every hand that has touched you. Time is radiant. Vectored in all directions. And the larger issue is a little regard for straight lines. Breath coming into this idea deeper than ice age. Pushes against the same molecules. Even my saying it alters the speed light takes to reach your retina, reverses and reverses again my dimensions before you. It is dynamic, this now: We touch and touch and touch. This being again my voice, speaking into the cool green where fog sets its soft weight,...

  17. WELCOME HOME
    (pp. 54-54)

    In the nick of school busses, office slacks, the rest of the game: Welcome Home, Girl. Critical objects to fragment and pony, sure—but I got this soft-shoe double step down. Books all memorized. You rolled some tardy and went fish-eyed in the cut: a tired, trifling air-kiss bye-bye. But that’s the providence of maybe. The jokes have teeth, so I’m rocking my apples on home. My flunked cadenzas, and reasons why not—we’re tripping the Fung Wah back to gasoline shingled grown folk talk and late night Stella with Isaac drunk on Jesus and hollering pulled-pork televisions—the last...

  18. TRACTION
    (pp. 63-63)

    Friday was canceled, so I got in the car and drove into this snowbank. Snow, then gravel hissed up from back tires spun nearly bald. Valiant efforts were made. Just around the corner, your lights were on. I won’t be a minute I promised myself. I’ll make quick apologies for the surprise, for questions answered slant, the indoor/outdoor carpeting darkened with slush from my boot teeth: I need your phone. And to stand here in rock salt eaten mittens while the AAA phone line sings smooth jazz. The reason is obvious. Heat makes a burden of layers and tomorrow will...

  19. REASONS WHY NOT
    (pp. 64-64)

    1. Leave-taking disorders myself at your doorstep yourself at my doorstep all night, us trading positions until your wife from a dream emerges and switches the outdoor lamps flooding on to tell us we’re drowning out the crickets; holding back the sun.

    In other words,Mercy.

    In other words,Fools.

    2. All the pieces were not in the box. I spent the whole afternoon attempting assemblage and deciphering Korean diagrams. Let’s just get in the car, eat peaches by the open water and watch afternoon ducklings slant into bulrushes. Everything here is sunlight through my fingers, a badly translated version of something...

  20. THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT PLACES WE’VE BEEN: A BRIEF INDEX OF YES, AND
    (pp. 67-73)

    I-95 to Plymouth and there’s charcoal in your voice, closer to my ears than night sky wrapped around the car, the velvet beneath and beyond our momentum. Distance shrinking within a small vessel of space and breath. Endurance that becomes tender.

    Consider the photographer Araki and his elegantly knotted women; your breath in my hair and turning pages: the way things bind. She is a young woman tied up in the gutter and pornography is the question. Her face against concrete, deeply grained but otherwise cloudless sky.

    When interviewed Araki argues that ropes embrace instead of restrain; that the knots...

  21. GIRL #2
    (pp. 75-76)

    A lump of girl in square coal interiors (a box within a box within a box). A pandemonium of velvet striping, swelter and balm, such good. Oscillating and muscled thick. Torn dungarees, edged by cornfield, by heat lightning.Let’s get goneportly for hops, for lateness and sound check. A smile breaking open. A soft new sorry. (A box unlocked, opening unto another box.) Feels like progress. Stir of an old song, sways across the room, a voice slow as late summer honeybees, moving from one sticky flower to the next. Let me. Show you. This trustworthy voice in a...