Today in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor C.D. Wright features an excerpt from a poem by Zachary Schomburg, a portion of which also appeared in the PEN Poetry Series back in April 2013. About Schomburg’s work, Wright says: “Follows a short selection from Zachary Schomburg’s current work-in-progress, Agnes the Elephant. Zachary is one of the founding editors of Octopus, an online annual of the first rank. His books are The Man Suit (2007), Scary, No Scary (2009), and Fjords vol.1 (2012). The Book of Joshua is forthcoming from Black Ocean Press in 2014. He’s one of the Portland poets behind the Bad Blood Reading Series. He makes poemfilms; he translates Jacques Rebotier along with Alisa Heinzman; collaborates with Emily Kendal Frey, Ben Estes et al. The Lovely Arc is one of the places he inhabits on the internet. I do not know when or if he sleeps; what he does for grub or scratch. He is unmistakably made for this work. Poetry opens portals for him and he is the first with his hand up volunteering to wiggle through with little dread of the outcome, and sometimes there is sound reason for dread. He is a wordbound, ideafat bibliorat; this is good news for all of us. He wants to know what will happen on the other side of that opening. He makes us want to know. Yes, there is something about his freaky compositions that are genially emboldening.” —C.D. Wright


                                                    from Agnes the Elephant


                                                    When I was a baby, I was kidnapped from my bassinet
                                                    while my mother was soaking in the bathtub. She
                                                    couldn’t hear the intruder walk slowly and heavily down
                                                    our hallway, or open the door into my bedroom because
                                                    the hot water from the faucet was splashing into the tub.
                                                    The hot water turned the cold water back into hot water.
                                                    The suds were so high around her, the tub looked like
                                                    the mountainous arctic. She reached for the suds with
                                                    her hands and rubbed them on her legs which were in
                                                    the air. She started at her ankles and then she moved the
                                                    suds up over her knees and then she moved her hands
                                                    down into the hot water where the suds stayed on the
                                                    surface and where her hands kept going down, beneath
                                                    the surface, down between her legs, and they stayed
                                                    of the tub, and her head fell all the way back. Then came
                                                    out a little baby scream.


                  There is no
                  such thing

                  as infinity.
                  I started counting

                  when I was
                  very young

                  and I can tell
                  you now

                  that I am


                                                    On my way home from the grocery store once I saw a
                                                    man trying to kill himself by jumping from a second
                                                    story window. A small crowd had formed. A police
                                                    officer was below him on the sidewalk trying to talk him
                                                    down. The officer could have just reached up and
                                                    grabbed the man’s ankles. The man was trying to
                                                    convince the officer that none of this existed, that he
                                                    didn’t exist, and neither did the officer, nor did the
                                                    building, and none of us in the crowd. Nothing existed,
                                                    and I wasn’t so sure he wasn’t telling the truth. I’m going
                                                    to fucking jump he’d say. You better not said the officer.
                                                    After a half hour or so of that, I went home to put the
                                                    groceries away. I made the burritos in that way you
                                                    taught me how to make them. The popsicles I bought
                                                    were mostly melted. The pattern on the wallpaper had
                                                    no one in particular’s face in it, I thought.


                  I will be the murderer
                  of my own murderer

                  and the murderer
                  of the murderer
                  of my own murderer.


                                                    Something starts happening. Then something is
                                                    happening. Then something happens. And then nothing
                                                    happens. And then something new happens. Then
                                                    someone you don’t know jumps off a tall building and
                                                    dies on the sidewalk in front of a group of schoolchildren
                                                    on a class field trip to the natural history museum, but it
                                                    is you. It’s been you this whole time.

                                                    The refrigerator is open. There is a baby in a jar. It is
                                                    time for breakfast. The universe is still expanding. Your
                                                    hands are moving like you’re wrangling a snake. Will
                                                    you do a magic trick? You start to do the magic trick.
                                                    We get on a plane to Tokyo. They serve us both cake. It
                                                    is not cake. It is two babies. I try to tell them about what
                                                    cake is. No one on the plane to Tokyo knows what cake
                                                    actually is. I don’t want to ever eat again. The babies are
                                                    crying. I am dying in a pool of blood.


                  so far north
                  it’s french

                  her and me
                  and you

                  and me and
                  you all

                  facing her
                  and you


                                                    I am trapped in the center of a group of people who are
                                                    wearing large hats. I only want to be with you. I send
                                                    home money and a note explaining how I’m in the
                                                    center of a group of people and how I can’t get out but
                                                    can only send notes. Take this money, I write. Let’s go
                                                    to Ophal City. Please buy the tickets. Please wait for me
                                                    there, in this place I made up.


                  the most beautiful
                  word is evil

                  because when
                  we’re evil

                  there’s no

                  that’ll sadden


                                                    A foot steps out of the rectangle and into the circle. I am
                                                    a baby on the carpet. The sky in the ceiling is a rectangle. 
                                                    Your face is just five different-sized circles. In the
                                                    shadow, someone is taking off a shirt. A shadow is not a


                  we watch TV
                  on mute

                  read parts of
                  On Evil

                  I want her you
                  are not her

                  problems are


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