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Because of the heat wave I’ve watched you three times in just as many days
& because of the heat I camp beneath the window unit on max blast,
  my hearing dulled to aerodrome,   until I accept

your horror froze-over to silence—  no night gale, sled dog, scream
   thrown back to arctic stars, & not a hint of synth
when the flare ignites, & the gas catches.

   The first time I watch this way, I worry what I’m missing.
Dialogue, scrubbed clean. Music become wind tunnel. But then I see
  how some scenes march   into a newer comfort.

The research team huddled up like oxen in their goggles & furs,
  sideburns bright with frost— and the faces before me lit so faintly
by the flamethrower’s pilot light, like portraiture,  napalm on ice.

   I track their breaths  in the freeze.

See them float  toward the rafters like the storyboarder’s speech balloon.
  & I wait.  Because at the end of the night your monstrous
reveal is the only alchemy I care to learn.  Your jump.

Your quivering, alien shift from human to halfling to not-quite,
  a carrion flower never in bloom, but burst.

   When you melt / split / crack / erupt / slop,
become fully thing, jettison a geyser of (acid?), I try to name
each humor,  your living parts—

   where does gelatin end  & silicone begin, or is it gum
this time. KY. Strawberry jam. Whatever the SFX crew could pile
   into the latex rigging for ultimate gag.

& I see this is the only way to watch you. No yell or yelp, orchestral tip-off—
no floorboards crashing and the thrower’s whumph. Just picture,
   and nowhere else to look.

In the dark, I stare long enough to understand that first unease
  in the theater seats. The myth of the man who stormed
out on opening night during the kennel scene—

your tentacles reeling in sled dogs like trout—and his voice
  heard around the corner, world’s worst barker:
I don’t need to take that shit.   No one needs
         to take that shit.

As if we don’t want to be snowed in.  As if we don’t love
  the fact our rescue might be caught in the thaw
   radio dead,  whole time zones away.

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Lisa M. Bradley during our annual Kickstarter.]

Editors: Poetry Department.

Copy Editors: Copy Editing Department.

Accessibility: Accessibility Editors.

Connor Yeck’s poetry can be found in Best New Poets, Prairie Schooner, Passages North, and Ninth Letter. The recipient of awards from Indiana Review and The Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival, he’s currently a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati and is an Associate Editor at The Cincinnati Review.
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13 May 2024

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