Elegy as Recursion: Into Another

Jan Verberkmoes

have you seen a horse bite a man       the skin splitswide and clean       where the horse's broad teethhit his skull       and for that the man sends a bulletthrough the white star of her foreheadwhen the bullet pops through the starthe horse collapses       headfirstthrough one field       into anotherdaylight guns the horizon into a pink blazeand I fall through the horse's black starback into the field where you stood       facing eastcalling me over       like you'd found somethingdaylight guns the horizon       and its vanishing pointcollapses into the grass at our feetyou say couldn't  we do this without the horsewithout the horizon       without any bodies in a fieldbut have you seen a horse bury herselfshe falls through the vanishing point in her bodyand into a field       she digs with her teethhaven't I       seen this morning beforeall pink edges and no stars       and this horsewho was built for running but won't       and this mantrying to lift the night of her head

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Headshot of Jan Verberkmoes

Jan Verberkmoes is the author of Firewatch (Fonograf Editions). A former Stadler Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she is pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Denver.

Cover of Firewatch

Portland, Oregon

"Jan Verberkmoes’ first book is a book I’ve awaited for years. Here is a lyricism of such music—and yet the music is simultaneously subtle and overwhelming, feinting and always before one—such music as is capable of expanding the possibilities of lyricism itself for those who encounter it. Firewatch will surely have a place among the best debuts of the decade."
— Shane McCrae

"In Jan Verberkmoes’ spirited new book, the caesura does so much work that one can only think about space and its magic. Fragments, lines, and phrases hum and buzz and flower here, all purposely opening into a larger order. Firewatch is a great read."
— Peter Gizzi

"Jan Verberkmoes’s Firewatch is a hymn and a reckoning, an elegy for both a world and a self not yet gone, but perpetually threatened with disappearance: Lake beds of ash, empty pastures, what’s in the distance 'shorn and ready for burning' as 'war emerges from the trees.' In this collection, what is dreamed becomes tangible, what is suffered takes root, and the interior landscape is rendered in earth and bone and air: Real as the meadow grass. Real as 'three links of spine.' Real as night, 'traceless / on the waterskin as it sheds from the mountain.' The boundaries between the body and the world dissolve. Shot through with both burning and honey-light Firewatch is, somehow, at once lush and spare. Haunted, hunted, but never faithless, it’s essential reading for anyone who feels themselves living in a time of peril and still awed by beauty: caught somewhere 'between alarm and song.' I return to this book like scripture."
— Molly McCully Brown

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