Spring 2016 KR OnlinePoetry |

From The Compendium of Romantic Words: Whip-Smart; From The Compendium of Romantic Words: Howl

From The Compendium of Romantic Words: Whip-Smart

Compound adjective. Notable for its two distinct halves,
like estranged siblings, the first now slothed
with lazy connotation (see: beach read convention;
see: sad strip mall sex shop
), the second spectacled,
mousy with As and curfews. Together, though,
they glint like struck flint. Together they’re the spark
inside which the object of desire, until then
only a green coat, a nimble hand on a fretboard,
without warning says Baudelaire or contrapuntal
or glottal stop and suddenly the elms and semis
and waiting room magazines vanish, the finch-song
stops, the gossamer, tenuous thread that keeps world
bound to world snaps and floats noiselessly away.
Untethered thusly, the admirer may experience sudden
vertigo or nausea, may sustain invisible bruising,
invisible lacerations. The swiftness of onset can shock,
but shouldn’t. Whip, after all, is another word
for move quickly; smart, another word for hurt.

From The Compendium of Romantic Words: Howl

Verb; noun. Notable for its compact muscularity,
as a wolf’s haunches double up to spring
and then the red carnage. The word looks like
the open mouth that sings it, and an open mouth
is, of course, an infini entendre of possibility. Mostly,
though, the power of the word rests in its suggestion
of desperation, such that one’s body might howl
for another’s, or, more frequently, such that
a forsaken one howls in the night like an animal
(see: tired metaphor; see: still erotic). Important:
the forsaken must tell the forsaker about the howling,
so that even if the forsaker is three states
or six rivers or nine mountains away, the howling
can still be heard, can vibrate all night inside
a suburban bedroom, so that the headlights slicing
through blinds become a full moon through pines,
so that even as the lights fade, the person lying
in bed, supine, one letter from lupine, can feel
haunted and hunted and whole.

Catherine Pierce is the author of The Tornado Is the World (forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in 2016), The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia 2012), and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry (2015 and 2011), Slate, Boston Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, and elsewhere. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.

Catherine Pierce is the author of The Tornado Is the World (forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in 2016), The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia 2012), and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry (2015 and 2011), Slate, Boston Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, and elsewhere. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.