Stacy Szymaszek

four poems from ABOUT THE HOUSE

13/ The Studio

I sit and think and in thinking
I mind my own business
             the thermodynamics tending toward a perfect crystal
                        stray night visions of those whose dominion is a city
             of leveraged humans
                        content to be so ( an ethic )
                                      but knowing it’s no longer my business
             no skin off my behind     bitterness drawn out by a poultice
plant pedagogy in poetry
             rocking in the chair formerly known
                        as office          toes on the floorboards
another sunny frigid day
             what is now February  
                        the Wednesday of the year
my shadow playing with heart-shaped leaves
             lead pencil in my hat    Privately
everyone can know where our hearts are        ( pocket, a book
                                                             symbolizing all books that amaze )
                        our charms       ( a Roman coin  
                                                             against all coercion  )
             and still wonder how we do this   ( an ethic )   
                        not a cloud     not a curious crow
                                     but five starlings in the gutter
                        and the humid bluster from the neighbor’s dryer vent
             I kept saying “myriad” when I meant “chimera”
along the rural route to the rural room where I began
             to make nothing happen
( an ethic )     an address   
                                            where proper mourning
                                                  may not have occurred

14/ The Bathroom

the public sphere has been drained

             you cannot purchase a conjugal tub

or any tub right now

the onus
on the individual
is a sinker    a heavy rate
                        of sink
                                     to make sense
as steadily
or as rapidly
             as we breathe

not only would I not trust fall  
into anyone’s economic decisions
I take upright
                        in my own hideout

too much reading on the can
a literary joke book
             extratemporal hemorrhoids
                         “ur-acts of making”

eyes follow the exposed pipes
            various holes and poles from other owners  
other bathers
                          down to the small piles of light
             blue cleansing powder
                                     from a tippy container

over to the orange liquid pine soap
hot water swirl
             the belief
                         to drain
                         the recurring dream

the last night
for last night

17/ The Living Room

                                     habits can chill or charm on a dime
                         on the couch wearing boots    
             not using a coaster for my coffee  
we make room for the other’s pretenses   our never-ending acts of
             becoming    where refusals however ancient
                         still furnish some important and harmless fantasy  
                                      that I am part of a sloppy collective  

                          a living person looks into the living rooms of the dead
                  where photographs of rooms are in the dossier
              and it is most impossible in those moments
 to understand outer space or the heavens  
             how the person is not going about their day
                           their subtler proclivities synthesized
                                     and passed on to people living in rooms
till doomsday      people who are artists finding rooms
            and living in them ad infinitum
                          deriving   derivative      the dossier
                                      a practical and calming notion
                                                  of afterlife     


18/The Kitchen

recitation of expiring produce used in the dish
is the love language

bent around an outsized white wafer table
we call it pie                     or a tray bake

                      grub first
                      then ethics

             2/22/22 the centenary
of Eleanore’s birthday
the last occurrence this century
an old world portal where smells
waft in from as recently as last April’s
lemon oil left as a welcome
to the house
and as ancient as
Polish sour soup

             one catches the drift
what a house meant to the relatives
of the displaced number 11
her features
boot prints in snow
a noble
Polish work ethic
a steeped tea
of Bismarckian
labor for your life

whereas sometimes I may think
a role

is beneath
             only then does the forced heat
gust from her eyes

Stacy Szymaszek is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently The Pasolini Book (Golias Books, 2022).  She is the recipient of a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant in poetry. From 2007 to 2018, she was the director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in New York City. She currently lives in the Hudson Valley, where she is an educator and a freelance consultant for arts and social justice nonprofits.

Read next: Poetry by Nathaniel Mackey

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.