Taryn Schwilling

slow pursuit



The shame-flush is at my back again

like a great gray thing    like following

the deadI’m the same

barbarian sweating here for a century


white animals are a favorite

house of transmigrating souls


a negative space between two fires


yet my days are spent

lounging like a romana canon-

bore is a nest for birds

an unshapely divinity

kept burning by the faithful


in the image-houses

of your private silence

I see you slowly losing

your mindI don’t refuse it


white hot



Rice fields are a nicer postcard

of the parasite that caught me

or the ice-hole I tongued to cool

at the templea glass room filled


with the bones of the missingall

here smile toward the glassthe bones

in some kind of gesturemy god


demandsthe sun-colors saturate

voices from the heapthe dead drip

through the livingthe gods all

wear the same hat


I ate the lotus pod for the gods

demanded itI cracked

the pods on my forehead like the natives

dothey demanded


I move in the rainso I sit

the others grow wet

under the palm I consider

the palm has been used

to slit throatsI sit




My musician blind or limb-

lessdo the feelings drag

harder for it


here art is so rare they call it Living


the high wet noise of economy

pitch of palm leaf along a throat


please don’t step on the bones

each wet season spits up


or keep as dark souvenir to prove

you recognizedo you

feel another’s pain in the palm of

your handdry & nearly weightless


the sea-light is especially full

drunkjust beneath the crash

drift all the things I fear

or the fearof nothingI gather

the dead things puffed up & nameless

as all the obvious fetishes


the cats gather at the switch

of the generator in hot dark lack

the trees slip awayall left a lapping

sea or the circle of fur

skin-met is the sound is the

sound is the sound  I stroke back

and hope


the sea-lights take shape as

I pay to watch a boy in his underwear

catch and end my dinner’s life


the light again goes limp

and I’m thankful for itmy name

becomes stranger every time


I say it   I’ve been convinced

of nothing but the mere fact of     listen

I’m sorryfor in my mind I reversed it

and you were deadwe all were

better for it


this is too close to the truthyet

still a shade of purple or the sigh

of a door with pressure applied

let’s call it pressureto be precise

I lay you downbreath-to-

breath I could make no demands

better people than us have


only kept in the fake-breathed days

we lived by the pulse of your damp vault


of course there was the snow-

muffle   chill of every basement’s

banality of boxes full of fuck-knows

for the Christmas ornaments were still

on the tree like a sick mirror of the word

I won’t writethe quiet between

your father and I as he moves carefully

through the sightless white guilt

of my own warm breath obscuring

the dark reflection




I keep your word nearest

for the sun cannot but

pale even memory


does not reach    the bedroom nor

dingy white of        the window


authenticity of living

in a constant wave of sullen protest


or the pulsing neon epiphany

just before the power fails


what of the young man


possessed        he’s given

amulets &        simple prayers

                          to cure


the young man eats


what’s placed before him


one night they say

on the beach the object appeared


with too much wine         amulet forgotten

in his shirt pocket             near to the beating-

thing which cannot pardon              so like the fade of the moon

for dawn           he went

to the water     I called him back     light broke



TARYN SCHWILLING is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was awarded a post-graduate fellowship. She recently completed a Fulbright research grant in Cambodia and is currently a lecturer at The American University of Iraq. Her first book, The Anatomist, is forthcoming from YesYes Books. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in West Branch, Petri Press, Tupelo Quarterly, and Linebreak.