Karen Carcia


the night got dark / millimeter by millimeter // it could not be measured by anything1 / except absence / like all matter2/ that matters // made more so by the neighbor's broken door and someone / hammering on it all day to try / and make the lock catch / I turn up the music // I'm listening to that song3/ again / which is even sadder once / I realize it's not a duet / but one voice / raised a few octaves / to sing the lover's part / and that's where the song becomes / abstract4 like the layering of shadow on shadow // lamp black over jet / strike plate over latch // won't quite catch




What can I tell you of this moment?2 As I write, my lamp erases part of the night. Well, erases my vision of it. As I write the sky3 remains the same x4 blue of ten o'clock—difference palpable only in the placement of the moon—a little to the left of where I left it. Waning. Soon the sky will be emptied of it. Of course, we think of emptiness more as presence, don't we? An absence so large it fills things up5 6 . Do you have nights like this there7? Nights you're awake, no one else in sight, and you feel that fullness. Of what?—the vast earth9, I guess. And then the first calls of morning birds9, the car driving by that does not stop, is not filled with your beloved, so fills the earth with the sound it leaves: gravel under tire scratching out the way10.




1 It starts as a few notes on an upright piano, each one held, the tiny vibration echoing out.

2 as with the Universe, more is unknown than known

3 "Undeclared"

4 when the wish itself is so essential: "O Western wind, when wilt thou blow..."



1 This address: so intimate, yet so anonymous. Often used by Dickinson who also included admonishments to her "remembered": "Do write me soon...and let it be a long—long letter...," and perhaps the most arrant, "mind me."

2 As Werner Heisenberg says, "In principle, we can not know the present in full. Therefore, all observation is a selection from a complete domain of possibilities..." And as we know from his Uncertainty Principle, we cannot know how any letter will be received; all we know is that, if received, it will create some disturbance, and that disturbance will be unpredictable.

3 As I write the sky half of the crickets are rubbing out their calling songs. Using Dolbear's law, t=50 + (N-40)/4, where n equals the number of cricket chirps per minute, it must be 77°.

4 Imagine cerulean blue, so useful for atmospheric shading; or, the blue of Rothko's "Greens and Blue on Blue," 1956; the blue of the first ocean you ever swam in—not quite as blue as you'd imagined, but there, glinting up through the waves.

5 Stanley Plumly writes of "To Autumn": "...that ever so much, ever so little, loss adds up to more, fills more, empties more, than the heart of the harvest."

6 empty glasses left on nightstands, the air in seaside towns

7 Most letters have one intended, one, perhaps, who lives in Denver, Colorado.

8 Ulan-Ude, Katete, Eights Station, Songsong, wood ear mushroom, peach rust, tath, bonobo, giraffe, cinnamon, sorrel, nevermind the mitral valve that lies between the left atrium and left ventricle of the human heart.

9 The tufted titmouse, for instance, calling for my father to get up out of the dream of my father's name: peter peter peter; or the black-throated green warbler arching out its landscape: trees-trees-murmuring-trees.

10 Wait, one cricket has found its mate—yes, listen, he's singing his quiet courting song now.





These poems are an attempt to grasp, however briefly, this vast world--be it through examination of my neighbor's door-lock, birdsong, or mathematical principle.