Brent Armendinger


A memory of fists
perforates the sky.
A boy lying down
in the backyard of keep-away,
shirts and skins, abrasion.
Passenger dreams
sift out from airplanes
over eyelid, tractor, dew.
This strange transistor.
"I never doubted you."

Translate chasm
into guilt. If I say sugar
but you don't taste it.
If you hear
tide. A public thing,
beauty. If aversion
can make any harm

The air exceeds the lungs.
The yellow blades bend
into nest. A faucet
drips into a lake. The friends
in white robes sight-weep
a tablature, those jewels
inside the wide Oh's.

Walk downstairs and feel
the ending of sand—
wake early and run far.

The decision to live
had no flesh in it.



"The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand."
—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

[          ]
The city falls around me in reels of film. Yes, winter is necessary. In San Francisco, it flashes upon us daily. We belong to a phylum underground, drinking ice and memory. What was once a grocery store is now a mirror and the face is not familiar.

"Do you need anything?" the facilities guy at my temp job asks. I mis-hear him at first, like I often do, thinking he's accusing me of not working. I do need things, but at this desk, there is a bottle of water, scotch-tape, eraser. Into the previous night walk backwards, stop me from locking the door in your sleep. Rise to fill my sleeve with oranges.

August 30
Blood opens umbrellas in my back. How can desire be so pliable? Black and white is how we begin, the lines on the face flushed by the camera or sun.

[          ]
If we held telephones against our chests we could record each other's dreams. The hair on my forearms is light like fishing wire. I have my mother's knuckles. My chest is a flood plain of red wishing, the hair darkest there, fed by unintentional tributaries. What makes complexion meaningful? Under maples are stories to outlast the concrete and glass.

August 31
The irregular veins in the waiting room scare me. We believe the streets might freeze in us, they smell like new hotels. What the sun neglects our lips remember. Make it look like some kind of space station, everything the child wanted. This sight, this epitaph. Ears are full of knocking, not drums.

Cities & Memory 1
I am going to move slowly. There is a sensation close to fear that unlaces my shoe when I'm not looking. Dawn and dusk are so closely hinged. How does time produce envy? An arc is drawn by a clock between you and a moment that has vanished for me. Perhaps it is not the moment that I desire, but the impossibility of two residents in a house of time. So when you say "amazing," a word is written on a window that breaks as soon as I open it.

September 1
We all want to know how heavy things enter the sky. The boy's clean pink shirt, his father's long black socks. His arms holding sentences to his chest. Ice cream, cigarettes, arguments. What else can we do but eat everything?

Cities & Memory 2
The cranes are coming. I imagine them moving whole rooms across Wyoming—your drawers filling up dust. The file cabinet empties out cactus where names used to be.

September 2
These balconies spill shirtless husbands, pinwheels, and soft green daughters. The seconds turn into promises flickering at twilight. Are there strings attached to my freckles? When first you touched one I felt the pure measurement of sky. Even parking lots looked softer but I wanted to stain my hands in rust. Now the wind is picking up and I don't know which is flight and which is grip, and I keep dreaming somewhere is a city made of kites and stilts, and I could tell the difference between the faces and the clouds, and body happens in the present tense.

Cities & Desire 1
There are many details of a door that I don't notice before I swing it open. After that initializing action, only hinge and frame remain, hollow portal through neglect.

September 3
The ocean moves backwards tonight. Some insect keeps biting the flag in the middle of dreams, my brain distilled in ambient fat.

Cities & Memory 3
We can trace the outline of the container, but not the contained. What does the rip in the fisher's net carry? I feel the medicine working. I'm not tired but it is a neighboring town—some branches always spin toward the trunk of the tree, a motion lost in the stuttering of leaves.

September 4
Autumn saws my nerves. The soup burns my tongue. A monk paused to cough and forgot all the words he meant to say. An egg fell out from stone, a saint's dark tooth.

Cities & Desire 2
Trust is the distance between failure and a friend. If I seal a page from my calendar in an envelope, a day becomes a root system under ground, petals reflecting everything but voices.

September 5
He said we should ask our friends if they are not fish any more. What can be buried can begin. The same sentence twice sheds its truth like a coat it's too hot to wear. Standing still a stranger wasn't a thief or afraid.

Cities & Signs 1
Last night the lover spoke of conjoined twins – one changed her name to Reba and spoke in country songs. We never see the same twin at once. A creature grows regardless of our understanding of proportions. A sister with no name, an undiscovered moon. He will splinter me soon. Empty bed, undiscovered moon.

September 6
Will there be a day when my legs resemble stilts, when my body pivots loosely in the shell of himself, disentangled from the formations of sand at the shore? Illness is believing the stilts have their own memory. The crane doesn't whisper it says future. Feed everything you have to the birds. The birds are never going to leave this place or remember you by name.



I wrote "Walking as a Kind of Faith" after having a dream about attending a week-long rehearsal for my own funeral, and while reading Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain.

"Strange Cousins" is a hybrid of marginalia I wrote in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities and my calendar. It also marks the beginning of a mail art project called The Kudzu Library.