Eric Pankey




Like it or not, they get our weather tomorrow. Like us, they enter memory, assured it is finite. Tomorrow: winter in its one disguise. Tomorrow: a hitherto purely imagined form. You can toss, if you wish, salt in the fire as an offering. To be safe, you might as well throw in three rose seeds, three nettle seeds, two rue leaves, and three cumin seeds. Crushed cumin will not do. They call the secret poison spider in the dumpling. Write down the recipe in your little book of misfortunes, your little book of micrographia. The lacuna's deep taproot (which must not be pulled, but dug up), smells like a beet or a parsnip—sweet and loamy. It is to the tongue what the incantation of a broom is to the ear. Tomorrow. But not before the daily demise of evening. Each brushstroke had a name—little hatchet, combed-out hemp, serpent's tail, the pulled carpenter's nail—but they called it spilled ink, and went to fetch a mop. All the while forgetting the emptiness that is the site of transformation, the emptiness that is an intermediary. They waste a good deal of time waiting for intuition to flash forth, then fall prey to gloom. They could have called us. The wintrymix arrived here yesterday.




A bit of gold leaf snagged on an acacia thorn shimmers at a high frequency in the breeze.

Sometimes I’m convinced I’ve seen a ghost. I feel faint and, for a moment, vision blurs and one becomes two and two turns to four as if an overlay of separate negatives in a spirit photograph.

Such quickened enthusiasms! Such transport!

The dizzying quiver and flux soon pass.

The search is never for fire, but for a contraption impregnated by lightall motion and efficiency.






The title "False Sermon--True Story" owes a debt to Michael Palmer. I recommend all his books, in particular his latest THE LAUGHTER OF THE SPHINX from New Directions. These two prose poems, as do most the prose poems I write, owe their origin to student-generated prompts from a graduate class I teach regularly on the history of the prose poem.