The city has sex with everything (excerpt)

Catherine Wagner

The city has sex with everyone.Sex with Kroger.All over the city,along the white-paint lines that separate parked cars,parking lots are unzipping.Between the lines the cars begin to bounce a bit, like babies,and from the white linesas they widen and crack and splita milky fescue grows, reedy wet pathways, little streamsroseate with lilies, till the streams uprift the concretein grand dispersing E-shapes, and now across the lotthe broken lines extend until they meet—the cars are islanded, really bouncing nowand Kroger opens all its doors—there’s a big sale on—“big sale” is how the Kroger understands itself to be consentingto the city tendril-tunnelingits homeless homefree energy into the produce wing—the products rapt and blooming breaking open—plastic-wrap unravels on the floor—the cashiers lie down in an expanding crack—the milk in there is geothermal warm,it bathes the cashiers’ nipples,they waft their hands along the reeds like baby Mosesand the Pharaoh’s daughter who discovers them is fluorescent lightreshaping itself (now that the ceiling’s gone)into a floating peaceful missilecongealed of all the city people’s formerly constrained mutual care.The care makes the fluorescence glow like an oil puddleridged in night and opaque peacock furtill the missile (which is Pharaoh’s daughter flow-light)sparks like an old engineand ducks and divesplays with its comet matescaresses them in cloud and basking sunand then remembers the cashiersand lowers its soft missilic body, takes theminto its foggy spider-lightning wombthey close their eyesand plan to lead the peoplebut the cloud-missile says restand they listen to percussionof rows of imprisoned colored foodlike itemsexploding in a fireworky mess, and the stray dogswho lap at Kroger’s floor, soft-tonguing, and chew her meat.

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Catherine Wagner is author of Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012) and other books. Recent work appears in Chicago Review, Lana Turner and Journal of Poetics Research. She teaches at Miami University.

Split Level Journal

Issue 1

We (Karla and Aaron) started SplitLevel Texts in 2011 as a way to contribute something material back to the poetry world that we love. At the time, we had some clear ideas about what that would mean:

•publish only work both of us deeply love and believe in
•establish another outlet for the capacious experimental lyric tradition we both identify with
•publish important new titles and important titles that have fallen out of print

We also wanted to pay homage, editorially and in our design aesthetic, to other small presses we’d always admired, like Talisman House, Burning Deck, White Pine, and — yes — New Directions.

We wanted to be open to experiments in the way we published our books (we started by publishing on an Espresso Book Machine before moving on to other digital and offset printing models).

Finally, we wanted to price our books modestly. Poetry is essential.

SplitLevel Texts is a practical extension of what we do as writers, and we hope you’re interested. Our titles are warehoused and sold by our friends at Small Press Distribution.

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