Apartment Poetry Quarterly

10A              10B              10C              10D              10E              10F


10C Emma Hyche



Late last night—
through the window passed
a shriek made of glass

and the following silence
a drop of water starving
itself across it

Fox grown fat on dead
things had broken
the ice of the pond

with his small body and now
was drowning, his drowning
made vitreous the air

I say a he
because the kinship
of you standing

staring from the blinds
into the dark
a night watchman

trusting only to the edge
of the torchlight
and willing his eyes wider

I floated in blankets
quieted with your finger
Had opened the window

to let the cold in and then
to let it out again
Didn’t intend but caught

a scream through the gap
and some wind
I did not rise to join you

but I admired the shape
of your nose in silhouette
You looked vulpine

You wanted to throw off
your skin, claw in the dirt
and put on your fur and fangs

I cannot say
if I’d be happier

if I were any other living thing


The abattoir is a chantic pulse of syllables. I confuse it with atelier. I must set the record straight.

See, I am real—there are red lips pursing the rim of the water glass. The coloration of many causes: hunger only one among them. Thirst next in line.

Fresh air makes a sieve of the muscle, but what of the soul? The soul sprouts mushroom quick, embossed with silver images, in the abattoir’s darkroom. The air choking on itself.

Such an abattoir never permitted to exist to the public eye. The face of the abattoir veils itself for public protection. From the outside, it may resemble a public school, a church, an open field. From the inside, blood hangs limp as mist, its folds veiling the slanted sun.

And if you are wondering if there really is a soul, it does not matter. If I act like the poisonous spider is not there, there is a potential I will not be bitten. And if I am bitten and die, I am allowed to pretend martyrdom—that I have been called up.

‘Abattoir’ from the French abattre. The hypothetical infinitive to slaughter. Regress the French and arrive at abatre for the beating down. Abattoir object and objective. Both the slaughter and the place comparable to it.

The pain of animals real in that it is imagined, keeps a spot on the pain wall occupied by speculation. Isolation and sequester. Unseen is unreal, as ever and always.

The space must be subdivided. Animal penchant for dominance heedless of scope. The narrow fallow pen: the cavernous abattoir. Fetal bone under dirt.

The lamb not aware of its lambness. The abattoir a cavity for filling up flush, not aware of its emptiness, hungry. No longer the open air in lieu of asphyxiant. The abattoir’s suck and chew—paranoid with refusal. Turn back at the lips like a retreating army.

I crush a spider on this page and it goes legs-up. An abattoir assembles itself around me. Its four walls click into place. Cut and cover. The abattoir mechanized and subject to periodic reformation at the whim of taste and capital.

The abattoir endowed with purpose, purpose pressing its sweaty face to its walls. Men in war carry purpose in their hands and in their bags. The theatre of war more correctly an abattoir.

I add a couch to the abattoir and keep the raw brick and steel, call it naturalism and homespun and reconverted. I connect the pipes and call their spew fountain. Urban sprawl into borderlands necessitates the assumption of unsavory spaces. Waste forms lagoons, creek systems form kills. The abattoir knows no disguising—it eats its way through it.

In a dream I saw a meathook who was god. If I hang on the meathook who is god, who am I? If a cow does? The marketplace can deify and does.

What of the abattoir can be disavowed? Upon attempt it shrinks to atom-size, gets swallowed back to familiar wetgut. Inside the body of all men is a tiny abattoir. Inside that abattoir, there is another one.