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Maxwell Gontarek

Updated: Jun 9

Maxwell Gontarek has poems out or forthcoming in Lana Turner, VOLTNoir Sauna, Works & Days, Tilted House, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. Co-translations with Léa Fougerolle into/from French can be found in verseant. His first chapbook, H Is the Letter of the Door, is forthcoming from above/ground press. He has lived in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Belgrade, Langres, and Lafayette, Louisiana.


I dreamt Isabel entered the horizon

And I was dust

My comets in honey thought the body honey cries


The dream’s still there but the entrance isn’t


Isabel you can read texturally

            as iris load




Sometimes the books are pulled from the ground like bolts

and converge simultaneously into hazard

At this point they become us


All existence is perfect


The end in fine


Infinite finance


The nude clouds in the avenue

The haves





I shivered for the sinister flatness of the momentous

There’s no dawn

Isabel told me




Iris loads the lake with its scent

It’s where the silicas wake up at the cloud ends

It’s where the ground nerve superimposes its stakes

on the routs of which we all are is a part

It’s what amasses as history under the heels of our heels

rigid and coruscant

we feel ourselves stiffening with


The passage in landscape

Who pays




The carnage in soil

and that that carnage disappoints

above below

with such height




For instants

sometimes I cry

            is the prime grammar

            of song




I is a bell




The horizon is a showy diaphragmatic eye




To sow something of a cry


To ex


True act

a cry





to be the rays of a central fire

which animates the future

and has already weakened

to be something that is

            that is

            is as yet to be


Did a comet cry in the distance?

Was there a mouth and what color?

The footsteps of the bolts sound

            as if they too had been surrendered from the unspaced




To day there is nothing contingent

The hair of everyone undissolving


We are informed the feathers of barnacles

are not the ones that made and unmade stars

Of course they will one day


But there is no season

But we are informed


It’s one day

It’s all affection




To inscribe a caesura in possibility

The carnage is constitutive

It makes and unmakes a public


Apparent curve brio

the conscious limb and plane echo


We saw it as barnacle scale

            so bound up with color

            as if it had been harm


We saw it as closure





            hide in my mouth



are elegies




Echo on

my exile

            warm as debt

            or in debt’s midnight


You will be heard by the body honey cries


There’s no dawn




An iris is a contemporaneity that is not contemporaneous with itself




Speaking of the lake did the fire fall silent?

Sweeping the soil did I forget the fossil?


The hair of everyone undissolves hazard




The carnage that inaugurates the sparse record of I

and an acuity of regard

annulated and ensiform


I mean it’s a flower but it’s also an eye

It’s textural

What would your name be?




Its value

attenuating to a zero point

the more unique it becomes




The wet book I eat at the lake says peoples do not live on exception


As a person half your body is in a horizon

And someone is asking you a question

As if by tracing there can only be one response all of them




Barnacles are ankles




I dreamt has currency in a dense nodal point beyond these scenes of exchange




A tiny divorce deports each spring of silt from seasonhood




The gone do not precede but inhabit the page

Their songs do not belong to any name

Perfect inserts us




Affection is a comet charged to the bursting point with time




Ages ago

            barnacles flew here

            and their razed axes

            gave way to constitution

            in the momentous horizon


We are therefore a species of book




A version of Pizarnik


A look from the gutter can be a dream of entrance

Revolt consists in looking at an iris until the eyes are pulverized




Dust punctum

It draws you as in it draws your eyes outside the frame

It draws you as in it sketches your eyes outside the frame

Where are you?




Antumbra is where the shadow of where we are together stops Isabel




            A version of Vallejo


Under the poplars the blood poplars have fallen asleep

The aria at midnight in the area of soil


Isabel suns flock fallen on the knolls


It’s the author and protagonist

It’s carved in orphanage

It shivers in the last martyrdoms of bolts

            as its paschal eyes catch a chance herd of stars

It has always gone down the moment with its rumors

But to day there is no dawn


To the undulation field

To the bell

To the color of the iris undissolving into everything

and in it

a mouth

          covering its pupils

          tracing their pastoral bay




A bay is a bark

A bay is an in


A bay is bark


Affection is recessing




            A version of Pizarnik


You leapt from you at dawn

You sang the tryst of being born

A sad tree         


In the cell of time

sleep looks into its own eyes

and tendency brings the tenuous response

of the leaves


Beyond the prohibition of zone

you arrive at a mirror of specious transparency


When you open your mouth your mouth gags you

And you leave


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