Huggin #3, #4, and #6

Huginn #3

Love flakes as thin as onion skin,
recoiling and curling like paper
on fire. My mouth tastes of chive blossoms
and catmint, dirt-ward my tastes grow,
in the firmament, the soft bruises engender
tenderness: if over chicken paprika
we discuss Berryman’s collapse
into the gentle, ash-wet lust that
leaps off bridges into the ice
accumulating from years of
midwestern stoic grayness.
When I say I love you, I don’t
mean to bring the corpse hounds
to find cadavers, I mean you—
even chapped and wind-burnt—
I mean the soft trembling between
the idea of release and refuge
from the dreams that masquerade
as memories and cause us both
to wrench. This thought I will
speak to you through my corvus
tongue, break ready to rip carrion
but will remember every feather
fallen from those in my murder.



Huginn #4

In the night-gloom, Ratatoskr
                                    bores into the bark of a branch
of the world tree:
                                                Walter Simonson
wrote us all as aliens, and this
                                                tree floated in space
in four-color page splashes
                                                            the vertigo
into the mid-1980s:
                                                each a panel
a gateway                                             into a house
                        of eternal return
(Dis)quiet into the skin of the tree—
                                                            Only the prophets
                        know what we whisper
to the eagles at the top of the world:
                                                the flesh isn't right,
against the sky
in the middle of the world                               a monk
                                    wades through canals
to meditate                   near a Jade Buddha
                        just beyond the clearing of landmines
outside the temple gates
                                                            someone lights a
            cigarette and leaves
                                                            a shot of whisky
to calm the nerves of                                       a raw Bodhisatta
                                    tortured on a wire
bed somewhere near                            Phnom Penh
                                                                        the eagle
nor the squirrel                        can speak of the pools
                                    of blood in the corner
of an abandoned cell                           and Simonson
                                    got no text bubbles
for this                                     movement into the gutters
                        of future.



Huginn 6

I. “Because of the indefinite nature of the human mind, wherever it is lost in ignorance man makes himself the measure of all things.” ― Giambattista Vico
If one says corvidae, one may be oscine passerine birds:
                                    the caw of choughs, the flash of jays
masquerading as hawks, thoughts of blue and black against
                        the limpid, pale blue of the sky. One may mean
the chatter of magpies,
                                    or the carrion ravens picking the bits of memories
of the dead. If memory speaks for the dead—whispers
                                    to the one-eyed bastard this or that
then I speak for the unformed, the boundless,
                                                the coming into the being. I
bubble up from memory, cut the time with my egg tooth,
                                                                        each shard into
cathedrals of calcium and half-acknowledged
II. “Verum esse ipsum factum” - Giambattista Vico
If one says poet, one may mean maker, obscured
                        by the context of one’s life, beyond the
crafting the words, of thoughts, or memories,
the deep rumbling the body. Once I saw a dead zanate
                        in a deader panadería, I mistook it’s milk-glazed
eyes for marbles and its black feathers for a ravens.
                                                Not even the decency of using it’s
entrails for divination, but I eat its gizzard out of
                                    respect as if to make
something out of
                                    miasmas of feathers and near-rot.
To say thoughts are like this misses the point: thoughts
                        are this, poems fastened truther things. Nests
of bone and desiccated hay, hydroscopic to memory
                                    and mythological pretenses to wisdom.
If one says one speaks for thoughts, one speaks for the future
            dead. Memory, my brother, we aren’t that different:
spinners of dust, ash, and half-forgotten. Even when the personality
            molds, the names abrade from the headstones, and the songs
meter and rhyme lost—we still caw, harshly. Someone
                        half-blind may call that wisdom.



C. Derick Varn

C Derick Varn is a poet, podcaster, and teacher. He served as assistant editor for Arts and Letters: A Journal of Contemporary Arts, managing editor for the defunct Milkweed Review, founding editor for Former People, and was a reader for Zero Books. He won the Frankeye Davis Mayes/Academy of American Poets Prize in 2003. He is the author of the collections Apocalyptics (Unlikely Books, 2018), and Liberation, and all the other bright etcetera (Mysterioso Books, 2022). He currently lives in Utah but spent most of the last decade outside of the US. He hosts the politics, history, and culture podcast, Varn Vlog. Derick recommends the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Doctors without Borders.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, June 14, 2020 - 22:06