Terrence Chiusano




The sense of A SECTION, a painted shape—the red rose in the green copse, emerald gumdrop
on walnut tabletop, the plain little deal sideboard with the shallow drawer and the missing                    

pull and the tilted lid—lifted from a landscape with a supposed future, and so from the fork
of the branch back to the palm of my hand, the painted shape, a sense of THE SECTION, lifted from

a future of the supposed landscape—a white rose in a green copse, emerald lollipop on glossy
tabletop, a plain little teakwood lectern with a swollen drawer and a missing shelf and a tilted leg.





First off, to display reverence by combining (O my
chevalier!)—the book, the magical book, is drawn
towards an ultimate pleasure. What can I afford? I came
up with it, why not imagine to hold it? In our vice

we sacrifice two (good purpose and force) for one (I
come). We ignore. The pleasure is in denying, of course,
but what good did it do me? I think I felt...obscene
maybe, but I felt. That it was a torment is an expense.







"Stitch" and "Gate" are part of a little sequence of "girl poems" ("Tarnation (Ten Lines for Mary)," "Never (Nine Lines for Natalie)," "Forever (Four Lines for Felicia)," etc.) I've been writing for a few years now. The sequence itself is part of a larger manuscript-in-progress, "55 Puzzle Poems."

"Stitch" is an interesting case. There are a dozen or so basic variations of the poem, and then various sub-variations. The primary variations have mostly to do with overall sequencing and repetition. Sub-variations involve the noun-list.

So for instance, does the noun-list (rose, gumdrop, sideboard, etc.) appear only once, or twice as it does here? Could it sensibly appear three times? (Yes, actually. It can.) In all cases, where exactly does it go—between what? Does "the palm of my hand" appear only once (if so, does it come before the supposed future or after) or twice (and if so it "requires" then a second noun-list, and does that list come at the very end of the poem or does it follow immediately the first "palm")?

Is "a landscape with a supposed future" lifted from "the sense of a section" or is it the other way around?

The rose changes color, the color (emerald) remains but its object cycles (from gumdrop to lollipop) okay, but any of those relations could be reversed. The rose might alter (to snapdragon or lotus or lily or peony or pansy) but its color (red, white, yellow, purple, pink) remain. Same might be said of the gumdrop. (A ruby gumdrop, or garnet, is too good to pass up.)

The furniture is its own little difference engine. Sideboard becomes lectern, drawer remains, as does something missing and something tilted; but drawer shifts from shallow to swollen, what's missing from a pull to a shelf, what's tilted from a leg to a lid. Numerous sets of reversals (like those of the rose and the gumdrop) work here. Other alterations involve deal, teakwood, beechwood, walnut; sideboards, secretaries, lecterns, work desks; a "tasseled" pull, a missing "foot" or truant "trim." All of them work.

Yet another sub-variation involves articles: "The sense of a section, a painted shape" becomes "a sense of the section, the painted shape." The reversals are obvious.

A further iteration involves placing the little newt's tail in its own mouth by ending on "the sense..." and beginning with "...of a section." So many viable variations.

The more I fiddled, the more I felt somehow the ambient presence of the sort of branchings the poem itself seems in some way to be about—versions continuously emerging (one after another after another…in a "floral" sort of way it seemed to me at the time) and all from a single interesting but unassuming little harmless bouquet. What surprised was how much more there seemed to be. Flowers hidden behind flowers hidden behind flowers. Bowers of flowers.

I don't consider this version definitive exactly, I just thought it was the one with the best chance of appearing in print.