Chicago, Illinois

December 2006

Five Poems

Infestation by Islands
Aubade, Big Eyes
Page. Pact. Buoy. Body.
Dislocation Lesson

Poet's Bio



Infestation by islands

A song intersecting the archipelago
breaks away in parabola-instincts,

clichés tossed starboard at
midnight, with wrist-watches,

cocktail napkins, strands of hair.
In Baltic waters, fervor means

futbol or maypole, blueberry
liquored down a departing

evening gown. Windows rubbed
with kerosene repel spiders

and fruit flies. Her earrings
are silk egg-sacks waiting

to please, to release spiders
into corners, her impending

malaise infests the pitch-black
deck. Against the lights

of Stockholm, she imagines a house
webbed in yellow fever, infection

resting against her shoulder.
Syntax in flames, she announces

cloud-cover, the nothing that can’t
be collared by land, air or sea.



aubade, big eyes

This morning everything’s possible here.

“In the church parking lot, stealth lovers part at dawn, making out in the spot marked Reserved For Priest. Stash the cold breakfast, I’ll mend the sheets...With my anime hair, record your brilliant bones in cases of Chambord, Saki, beer chasers.”

Eye of morning? Visual memory, mist. Bathwater fills cuts on my fingers and gums. Watching you smoke, like mathematics etched in orchid stems. Give me a maulstick to steady my hand. Your eyes river-bed, or Japanese green? Impish gaze auditioning the sky’s faint a.m. scrawl.

Later, reticent and shuffling, I dream of being “liminal,” or Coco Chanel who glamorously died the year I was born, confirming my post-apocalyptic existence.

Daybreak, reading Greek icons again.

St. Peter rimmed in pearls or accented with touches of ochre. The women regret their dangling maturity. Eyesight accesses a realm of transcendence, lips touching sacred against profane.

Beguiling honeycomb riddled by bee moths, I like waiting here for the light to change.



Page. pact. buoy. body.

I write

           “solo, Oslo”

           “so long, go”

You write

           “let me
           the trees

You write trails
of a backwards winter

           I write “beach towel”
           I enact “sunscreen”

It begins in anise
and ends in Ashville

“The crickets are deafening,
           like algae to evening”

Snow-banks or vectors
gleaming blank checks

           I sell my possessions,
           kindling my bed

Laughing, you’re laughing
checkers, chess?

           I can’t stand to own
           anything beveled or honed

You think of feeding,
all-day riding

           I write “belong,
           bee sting”


Your feet think for you
recording your grieving

           My face is sunburned
           faded and dying

I write

           how shadows?

You write

                                 why leaves?



dislocation lesson


Finally we appeal
to names what else
can we do in the cherry
juice twilight when the
pineapple express
rides the pacific
seeking cedar cupolas
translating weather
domes to aburgas,
snow-shook gales
in Alaska. Dom
whispers french
into a foehn,
air descends
a lee of mountain
tops in the Alps.
Chinook, wind.
Sirocco, wind wrapped
like a shy, sexy dress
hesitating in shadows.
There are only two
kinds of objects
in the world
these you can break
with your hands
and those you cannot.




—with thanks to Caspar David Friedrich

Monk by the sea
you're small
a finger of coal
against ten thousand
reversals of sky
sky sky. You're
summoning, maybe,
Blake's Pieta
or crisp paella,
all the king's
horses, round
red-orange women.

Monk by the sea
your daughters
are calling those
sailors bad names.
We come into
the world. We
regret the sky.
Words settle
on us, a torn
saddle of light.



Kristy Odelius is Assistant Professor of English at North Park University in Chicago, IL, where she teaches poetry and 19th century British literature. She is a co-founder of Near South, a Chicago-based journal of innovative writing. Her poems, essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, Chicago Review, Versal, ForeWord, ACM, Pavement Saw, Diagram and elsewhere. Her work will appear in the forthcoming anthology from Cracked Slab Books, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century.