about the author

Paul Piatkowski’s work has been published in journals like Ditch, Sheepshead Review, Nagautuck River Review, Fast Forward, Tonopah Review, Liebamour, A Hudson View, and Lines + Stars.

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Chronicle 1114.77

Paul Piatkowski

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All I have been left is the exhausting habit of trying to tack up the slack of my life with words. —Samuel Delany, Dhalgrem

Word taxidermy works away on our young hero,
a worm eating its way through a pumpkin
getting stuck in a surfeit of seed, and those patrons
lining his pockets with folded stiff green (slowly
becoming soft and porous in his pocket, unless spent)
demand on demand wordplay. So much of this annoys
the young taxidermist that he takes time away,
hitchhikes to Eureka and lives on smoke and labor
for some time. In the fold of a wet, green day he uncovers
a memory—his brother’s leXgs (erasure—legs does not
imply enough about this moment or contact, and the taxidermist
hero tools this into his text) like distant rolls of thunder
tap, tap, tapping his own side in the distance of the moment.
The pox marks both he and his brother and the tele
plays cartoons—The Secret of Nimh at the moment—
and the image must be carved at with a scalpel
by the taxidermist, because there is some kind of nothing
on the memory—a nothing that is stock full of absence,
so heavy with it that the taxidermist can barely
push the needle into his young face
and let the fluid course through the nothing
and communicate that moment to the reader. The slow, dull
thud of thunder at his hip, and his brother, face full of something
now, for he was getting better. But then, from him, the emptiness
fills in everything with the Rats of Nimh in the background,
moving a mouse’s house
to the lee of the stone.

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