July energies in the air float like an oily zeppelinaround around around with no friction but timehubcap swirls like a broken deer upside down on the streetred and blue and white and night and the wheel, the wheelpause slides in the warmth, drop-down a weird January airpassage opens between my ribs as I probe intocar crash wheels hum above glass crystals surroundblood and glass light and blood light and glass and red-blue lightand sirens and hands and blood and a belt and a cut and handsand fall gently and cheek on glass that is not sharp but bloodblood drop in my lashes blink red and blue light white moon snowglass in the dark in the red in the blood in the skin in the scarSummer wheels spin. Bang. Howling lights outside, vibrate glass.Read the Detroit report in the café, a drop of absinthe swirls waterveils. Beat. Outside, the rain. Coffee smells mingle with fried onions.Hip bones sink and anchor on wood. Light rhythms paint the window.My gullet is empty, endless, a void slick with ground glass festersinto pain, pulls me into time river, moonlight sucks down to snow.
First published in the Texas Review, 42-43 (2022/2023)
“Split/Screen” forthcoming from Diver Beneath the Street by Petra Kuppers, Wayne State University Press, February 2024.
Copyright © 2023 by Petra Kuppers.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Petra Kuppers (she/her) is a disability culture activist and a community performance artist. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods, and she uses somatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. Her third performance poetry collection, Gut Botany (Wayne State University Press, 2020), was named one of the top ten US poetry books of 2020 by the New York Public Library and won the 2022 Creative Book Award by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Her fourth poetry collection, Diver Beneath the Street, investigates true crime and ecopoetry at the level of the soil (Wayne State University Press, February 2024). She teaches at the University of Michigan, is a 2022 Dance/USA Fellow and a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow.
A decaying psychogeography unfurls the landscapes of the 1967-69 Michigan Murders, the 2019 Detroit serial killer, and the COVID-19 lockdown in this visceral poetry collection. Author, performance artist, and disability culture activist Petra Kuppers dissects traces of violence in the richness of the soil while honoring lost community members. Dynamic and somatic poems traverse the realms of urban space, wild rivers, and the hinterlands of suburbia, glimpsing the decay of bodies, houses, carpets, hair, and bones by way of ecopoetry. Poems like "Reintegration" and "Earth Séance" delve into cycles of decomposition and decreasing biodiversity across the micro- and macroworlds. Others such as "Dancing Princesses" tie timeless fairy-tale tropes of violence toward women to modern murders and lived experience. Moments in lockdown are embodied through somatic exploration of nature and self in works like "Dear White Pine in My Garden." This evocative entanglement of life and death, joy and horror, natural and artificial processes and particles offers an intriguing lyrical and poetic quality as well as unique perspectives through the lenses of feminist, queer, and disability studies.