These poems are experiments in writing atmospherically. Specifically, I want to capture the atmosphere of the climate crisis and postindustrial alienation. Every image, every cadence, every inflection of tone and attitude, has been carefully selected to elicit a congruent affective profile—usually, some combination of ragged and sombre. The first couplet pairs two images that bear no relation to each other except a contrast or resonance that I have, for whatever reason, found striking. The second couplet takes this same contrast or resonance and heightens it while also observing some loose continuity. The third couplet approaches straightforward articulation without quite getting there: the contrast, the resonance, becomes a theme. The final couplet trails off into suggestive ambiguity, closing in a state of irresolution that gestures respectfully towards the unsayable. All lines consist of 7-8 syllables. All titles are adapted from the names of pipelines.
Balloons nod off in courtyard dark.
Ancient webs catch motes of snow.
Voices fade in rain-greyed parks.
Dry miles trade through copper leaves.
Like matchsticks damply struck, these thoughts—
but look how free the pines catch light.
In steel-cramped streets, lives idle dry.
How strong the sky’s black traffic drives.
Coughs soften down a stairwell’s quell.
Papers turn like tiles apostate.
The smoothed-flat mats of restless steps.
Walls defect, smog’s vanguard starkness:
where will home take refuge now?
The lands tamed out of friendliness.
In every corner of our calm,
smoke grows: a grey, invasive grass.
Stone wells grip their moss-raw midsts.
Wooden drips in ash-capped damps.
Tubs cradle shapes cut out of sky.
Strokes of ghost dilute worlds thin:
we’ll soon be bare enough to touch
the rain the way it touches us.
Smokes catch light in shuttered halls,
lives sigh climates all their own.
Thomas Sorensen is presently living as a sort of hermit on a lake in Northwestern Ontario while waiting for his green card so he can join his husband in Salt Lake City. His work is forthcoming or has previously appeared in the ASP Bulletin, Filling Station, The Dalhousie Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Danforth Review, among other venues.
Thomas's Book Recommendations
The Depression by Matthias Svalina and Jon Pack
The Agony of Eros by Byeong-Chul Han
Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity by Marc Augé
Runaway by Jorie Graham
Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil