Apartment Poetry Quarterly

2A              2B              2C              2D              2E              2F


2E Mathias Svalina



In memory I am a thing of many mouths gaping. It gets so that I want to stick the nozzle of the gas station air pump into my skin & inflate myself into an opera. Forever I am in the darkroom telling Sara I love her & she is explaining to me that I don’t. Forever I am unable to comfort Julia when she needs comfort. I love whatever has hidden so long in a corner that the corner & the thing are indistinguishable. My self splits into all of me, just as rocks hold up other rocks in a rock wall. There are dreams & there are memories & each requires the other, but when I try to figure out which causes which I am left in the jelly of myself, on my creaky bed, the bed Seth gave me, night bottling me within me with the asphalt & Hindemith.




Paper pulses through my arteries, pulped & suspended in solution. When I have to explain it to the doctors, & I have to explain it each time, I say I have a paper element. Sometimes it clots & I knead my leg. My son has a thin plastic liquid running through his arteries. When I kiss him on the forehead my lips feel slippery. This muddles me. But I’m always looking for new ways to counter the extincting instincts of the normative man, always trying to find new ways to love my laundry.




I am surrounded by acres of my trash, by all the things I’ve ever loved: baseball cards, cheeseburger wrappers, an ’87 white firebird. Each beloved thing has left me how a sinking ship leaves the sky. Sometimes I spin the globe in my office & close my eyes & let my finger fall & stop it—each time my finger lands precisely where I am. When I ride down the water slide I feel still & everything is flawless, but then mold encircles the navel of the plum, a fly plops its eggs in the cadaver’s mouth. Each day I tear down buildings & bulldoze trees to make more space for my trash. I have acres of batteries. I have fields of Sigg bottles. With upturned old shoes I have paved the maze of my trash. And in the crevices between the old mattresses & failed computers, if you look closely, you can see my body growing, spackling space closed with flesh. This is my body, my presence & soul: whenever a rock has been lifted I have loyally scurried. With this technology, in this climate of fraud & terrific, narrative scarcely makes ghosts. It’s like now, I’m starting a Sam-Eliot-touching service. This is me, me-anchor.




I don’t remember who I was before I died. I was another man, in another country, a home where all the drains are stopped & the owner’s at some unnamable distant resort. The only thing on my mind was filling out paper. I evaded like sequins, like tufts, like golden rowels. Some stories begin I was drunk & driving my father’s Oldsmobile. Others begin in another story, like the bones of a fetus. My freshman year of high school I met this boy & he was the cutest boy in school & I was in love. I could not wash The End off. When I turn on the tv it is always a picture of me, still alive. And I look so rich, so happy to be rich, so just what the doctor ordered.