"Justice," "Matter," and "History"


Time ransoms itself:  the jagged cut letters pasted
onto soggy newsprint so the particular scrawl
can’t be identified.  Wind eviscerates 
the silence, so the hunters gorge themselves
on slices of air.  The whole scene tattooed itself
my skin, the rash erupting near puckered 
scars, spreading out on my dermis like little mountains.
Ash and dust create mountains. 
To say I am religious is to say I am a blade
ready to cut a knotted human cord and float
in the river of history, self-betrayal 
invited as the water bugs glide near 
my limp limbs, exoskeletal legs hanging on
the tension between above and below. 
When I climb out of the stream, wet and red,
dripping with the past, I notice that I have justice’s
gouged eyes in a sack in my pocket,
and before I notice the nightjars in the ticket,
I feed each one slowly to the sweet hound beside
me, after he finishes his meal, he nuzzles
my ankles to warm my feat.  Justice remains 
blind anyway.  The curious desperation:
how nothing is sufficient and yet all of it seems  necessary.  Dragonflies loom in the dusk.




At root, everything composed remains mineral and chemical. Radical: cut the node at of its conclusions.  The tendrils know dirt.  Yes, I too have known fire. I have seen the helmets cutting the surf, bobbing in the foam and viscera.   The cows reduce the skeletons at edge of dust fields near the cities collapsing into the plains.  The whole tired errata pox-marking the boundaries.  At root, there is blight churning the cells into the degenerating DNA and rotting the wood before it is grown.  Radical: when I leave the country of desire, I have found my cupped hands full of water. The swans rip up the potato fields in Idaho, white feathers caked with mud. Straws of the world we are losing.  Wood warblers are amongst the junipers and pines, which summer heat will soon burn.  The tendrils know the dirt. The fire makes it.  At root, everything decomposes into mineral and chemical.  Radical:  even the water washes way. 




Upon the sentence, 
The song that I write
Lost in the mimicry  Of
the large gray parrots
That I fear.   
The punctuation I give 
Is for you.  It is dangles
Like epistles in Aramaic, 
Unread in the morning, Until
we have splintered  Shins.  
Upon the silence, I have 
So little to say.  The feathers
On the shag carpet, missing
The geese down in the morning In
which we lost the exact Syllables. 



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 Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 21:59