Towards the end of December, 2019, I read a few pieces of Joyelle’s from what was clearly a crown in TypoAnd preceding that by two or three years, I watched a YouTube video of her reading or more accurately reciting some sonnets and that memory-miasma likely played a role.  The perhaps odd perhaps not part is—she influenced the effort, but in a direct-and-indirect circuitry: I do think I was ghost-hearing her reading/singing similes during composition but the Typo poems are if I’m to be honest not a textual influence rather, a la the Catalyst in the title, the occasion for starting the poem as I immediately thought to myself—I haven’t written a sonnet-crown in a while, so this could be an engaging effort to make.  I hope this backstory isn’t too convoluted.  I’m not trying to pull-off an “anxiety of influence” bout: it’s not that I deny influence, only that the influence and the textual occasion don’t align…but maybe that’s—interesting?  I do definitely think the simile like “beleaguered Irish setters” is a phrase Joyelle could have written instead of me and it’d be a lot of fun if she has written that and I just didn’t know.  More certainly than anything that precedes, I can state that I hear her recital voice when I imagine the poem aloud.  Prosodically, the poem is mine; but the voice—or rather the orthographic afterimage and the image’s echo—is entirely hers.




I hang dog, dang higher
Like a cat as it taps
The beats ballast raps
Advertised on that post’s flyer.
I down the town, drown the crier
Cozies in the flaps—
Moseys in the claps
Of my gut, no eyes and all spider. 

Yes, I love when some
Low-hanging fruit
Pumps my tongue but now I heart aerial;
Way up whoa, that’s where arterial
Does its auroras: split split-seconds when his boot
Lifts, lets us look less than to and more than from. 

Let us look less than to and more than from
Like the letters,
The marrow-warm fetters
Spell Byzantium.
Or maybe they have swum
These leagues, like beleaguered Irish setters,
APA headers
Shed light but rather glum. 

Wet as from amnion, I flick a lick of gold
Goads this
Horizon to hold
My viscera in place.  Platinum’s sclera slips its ellipsis
Right through till every littlest inch goes cold:
I shake like hers and he shakes like piss. 

I shake like hers; he shakes like piss—
We’re at the center of circumference
Where light and heat throb, render sense
As immediate as a krait in its hiss, Swiss
Precision to this terror they so precisely miss
Out on, as if blood could run to dregs not one more flense
Keeps scarlet all a-gush, grinding us and us a lens
Through which I look, fail looking’s quiz. 

Alas, none of that matters:
Crate on crate, filled with adders,
Clarion calls and callousness blurs;
Clairvoyance shatters
Silicates mirror bladders,
All wrack alembic purrs. 

All wrack, alembic purrs
Like an exit
Wound through velvetest grain, gainsaying wit
While we cast about for stirs
Petals into metals, peal confers
Order comes from more than election and hit;
It comes from more than middle digit;
It arbitrates by more than kiss-ass and demurs. 

Meanwhile, in this meantime
Water has gone from scarce to
Impossible: H2 refuses O
The way blonds at the rampart sepals rime—
As if dulcet contours confirm fetid milieu—
As if caw can only fly us straight to escrow. 

As if caw can only fly us straight to escrow
He trained his craw to sing
Itself past company, companionable swing
Rocks lull limned by bye, gets larynx ready for—look at him go!
And now he breaks to keep, and keeps his breakage aglow
Like the worm lights this teensy plot of berm, but does not bring
Them closer understanding
Nor bend any bow—turn zenith any arrow. 

This aside, he records something sublime;
I listen to it on my way to work;
Like fat from fancy pig, it marbles my cortex:
It primes me to be a prime
Contender for world-champ wrangler of berserk;
I experience each buck as buttress not hecatomb or hex. 

I experience each buck as buttress not hecatomb or hex
Casts me in cruelty no ellipsis eclipses, clasts as
They knock, knock, ask whose there and there answers mass
Eviction—or dead in the dead-center of a circumflex:
Human who refused the inhumanity of sex
Or brightness only came out at night but days did pass
Means breakfast needs some sass,
Means time enough for time doesn’t vex. 

Needless to articulate,
Every next second could end
The life you call mine.
What I call mine, you call freight
Stalls happiness in its tracks, wend
Through scapes trill nerves gird spine. 

Through scapes trill nerves gird spine,
Through chords—he
Rushes to him, himself dreaming he’ll flee:
No swan so fine
As flexes into flight, and flies nine
Bends in the river before it straightens into sea
Like chopped china, like polymer scree
Encoils and roils, suffocates every anodyne. 

This, of gorse, means scream
Bounces his butt like a dribbled ball;
Off course this scream means he’s eructating frog
Who croaks at the very first beam;
And thus he converts unto a crawl
Danging higher, hanging dog.







Adam Strauss lives in Louisville, KY.  He works as a substitute teacher in the Jefferson County Public Schools system.  Poems of his appear in the Brooklyn Rail, Word For/Word, Sporklet, Prelude, and Blackbox Manifold.  He adores any writing that end-rhymes, and visual-arts wise he is obsessed with Marc Chagall’s “I and the Village.”