Certain Circuits

About this site

Founded by artists, Certain Circuits Magazine publishes poetry, experimental prose, art, and new media. We are especially interested in documenting multimedia collaborative work between artists.


Underfoot
                                         after several photos of gum and street debris by Irving Penn
                                           and a little James Wright1. 
This one’s an odalisque,
Nude, elbowed, armed like a Matisse
In the quiet modern wing,
And found, in chewed gum
Discarded on a street, under our feet, gum
Hardened, a creamy marble.
In the middle of our own lives
We wake and find ourselves
Dying, aggregate, friable.
 
How a box of matches can look
Like a bunker or edge of a thickly
Wooded wood.
 *
Grotesque perhaps that old gum
Can become antiquity’s luscious
Backside.  Few witnesses
To this out-of-the-way display.
*
Gum old-crackled like porcelain 
The seamed heart beside the lollipop stick
 
Silver foil and shoelace
Manhole cover
            Much howl and gravel
 
Screaming man     with fissures
The coast    a brain scan   stuck strand of hair
Tire tread         the ultrasound
 
Each organ breathes in its god
 
Pulled filament
And we are reminded 
                        — from the wet mouth —
Gum wrapped by a child like a ring
Around a finger —

2. 
Woman with crossed arms, an alabaster built up from gum.  Behind her, the towering cumulus mass backlit — as in Titian.  She looks over her shoulder: clouds in billowing layers of Monroe-skirt thunderhead pinned by something like the stem-end of a lemon, that star.  Gum, how you bunch, gather in, make classical your folds and shock with a tender Pieta—.
 
3.
Man with a bolt for a face, hexagon bolt
For a heart,
            Flaking, degrading to the edge 
Of his little world.
 
Cardboard match for a walking stick, epaulet swell
Of industrial paper towel.
 
We always see a body, a face, man
In the moon.

Somewhere at an intersection, what’s dropped
Will stand out —  shine —   like 40-weight
Oil spot or tar-gem.
 
4.
No other way to see it —
Something’s missing:
One zigzag ear, one eye,
Whole nose mouth —
That apparatus — gone.
 
Heart bent out of rebar,
Heart illuminated, bestiaried
Streetlit along a tarred
Expanse.
 
What shall we do if what’s missing comes down
The cross street alone,
Strolls up shining out of the grate
To make once more his request of these curbs,
Lamps, scrap and the many alleyways for whistling in,
Takes the rest for his own once more, his own
Proprietary junk?
 
5. 
Pigeon feathers, the Camel pack flattened,
The old circus poster—
 
                        Stubbed cigarette butts
The dark-and-light
             
                        Arranged, upended to become
 
The draped row of kore arrayed at an entrance
            To a temple
                 Or near a storm drain.
 
Every day all of it
At issue.
 
                        Delicacy of the wire lo mein
Handle, a cardboard’s scoring
A filth, what’s spread out to see —   
 
Paper cup, 
Paper cup, reminder, flat glove —
           
            There is a treasure here, a treasure
            Of what we have not loved.

A.V. Christie’s two volumes of poetry are Nine Skies (1997) which won the National Poetry Series and The Housing (2005) which won the McGovern Prize.  Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Poetry Northwest andCommonweal among other magazines.  She has received Felllowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and from the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils and has over the last several years been a Writer-in-Residence at Villanova University, Bryn Mawr College, LaSalle University and Penn State Abington.  Currently she teaches private poetry workshops.

Irving Penn (the photographer at the center of the poem) was born in New Jersey and was a student at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of the Arts.  Although best known for his commercial photographs, an exhibit of his fine art photography was held a few years ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
photo credit:  Robin Hiteshew High-res

Underfoot

                                         after several photos of gum and street debris by Irving Penn

                                           and a little James Wright
1. 

This one’s an odalisque,

Nude, elbowed, armed like a Matisse

In the quiet modern wing,

And found, in chewed gum

Discarded on a street, under our feet, gum

Hardened, a creamy marble.

In the middle of our own lives

We wake and find ourselves

Dying, aggregate, friable.

 

How a box of matches can look

Like a bunker or edge of a thickly

Wooded wood.

 *

Grotesque perhaps that old gum

Can become antiquity’s luscious

Backside.  Few witnesses

To this out-of-the-way display.

*

Gum old-crackled like porcelain

The seamed heart beside the lollipop stick

 

Silver foil and shoelace

Manhole cover

            Much howl and gravel

 

Screaming man     with fissures

The coast    a brain scan   stuck strand of hair

Tire tread         the ultrasound

 

Each organ breathes in its god

 

Pulled filament

And we are reminded

                        — from the wet mouth —

Gum wrapped by a child like a ring

Around a finger —


2. 

Woman with crossed arms, an alabaster built up from gum.  Behind her, the towering cumulus mass backlit — as in Titian.  She looks over her shoulder: clouds in billowing layers of Monroe-skirt thunderhead pinned by something like the stem-end of a lemon, that star.  Gum, how you bunch, gather in, make classical your folds and shock with a tender Pieta—.

 

3.

Man with a bolt for a face, hexagon bolt

For a heart,

            Flaking, degrading to the edge

Of his little world.

 

Cardboard match for a walking stick, epaulet swell

Of industrial paper towel.

 

We always see a body, a face, man

In the moon.


Somewhere at an intersection, what’s dropped

Will stand out —  shine —   like 40-weight

Oil spot or tar-gem.

 

4.

No other way to see it —

Something’s missing:

One zigzag ear, one eye,

Whole nose mouth —

That apparatus — gone.

 

Heart bent out of rebar,

Heart illuminated, bestiaried

Streetlit along a tarred

Expanse.

 

What shall we do if what’s missing comes down

The cross street alone,

Strolls up shining out of the grate

To make once more his request of these curbs,

Lamps, scrap and the many alleyways for whistling in,

Takes the rest for his own once more, his own

Proprietary junk?

 

5. 

Pigeon feathers, the Camel pack flattened,

The old circus poster—

 

                        Stubbed cigarette butts

The dark-and-light

             

                        Arranged, upended to become

 

The draped row of kore arrayed at an entrance

            To a temple

                 Or near a storm drain.

 

Every day all of it

At issue.

 

                        Delicacy of the wire lo mein

Handle, a cardboard’s scoring

A filth, what’s spread out to see —  

 

Paper cup,

Paper cup, reminder, flat glove —

           

            There is a treasure here, a treasure

            Of what we have not loved.

A.V. Christie’s two volumes of poetry are Nine Skies (1997) which won the National Poetry Series and The Housing (2005) which won the McGovern Prize.  Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Poetry Northwest andCommonweal among other magazines.  She has received Felllowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and from the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils and has over the last several years been a Writer-in-Residence at Villanova University, Bryn Mawr College, LaSalle University and Penn State Abington.  Currently she teaches private poetry workshops.

Irving Penn (the photographer at the center of the poem) was born in New Jersey and was a student at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of the Arts.  Although best known for his commercial photographs, an exhibit of his fine art photography was held a few years ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

photo credit:  Robin Hiteshew