Illyric Elegies

Mathilda Cullen


Louise Glück tore up my driveway in celebration of her Nobel,
said it was “a desire to produce an ongoing experience of longing.”
She looked back at me through the eyes of judges. Her hands
marred with my asphalt. She said from behind a thousand eyes, “Art has not yet
declared itself,” told me to turn around, little man,
and walk on home. I made appeals to the authorities, appeals
to the police, appeals to ignorance. The courts folded their hands
in prayer. I punched the door: a fruitless gesture
at the impotence of transfer. I should probably clarify it
wasn’t my driveway, but the one I expect to use
in return for my rent. A practice I abhor, obviously.  
I’m ruthless in my syntax, rootlessly abating. Oh my people,
are you not terrified of how these cards decline.


To be honest I was pretty pissed to learn I hadn’t split open at the instant of contact.
You had made me into some sort of cold appendage on the official body; I was in bloom,
Was Harold. It was all a kind of dance,
A fluid to match students with scholarships and so on. We called it the game of the day.
It was emotive, made us notice that every morning the neighborhood scrambled like Eggs, like ants, in the impending terror or no parking street cleaning.
73, give or take two degrees and humidity.
This gesture: everything you said it would be, receding,
Beginning to recede. The rooms fell into denser clusters of affinity
And the brown in Margo’s eyes came back and brighter
As she woke for a moment in her sleep. I rested well
Knowing the real painting was miles underground,
Reassured each moment as the pixels updated its decay,
Watched you decay in real time, or age, or live, or die. I called this loving you.
Like sand; fingers. Loves labors lobbed off in standard procedure.
I’m ringing joy around you like grief, like the national breath per capita. Lakes of sky
In clouds of rain. It was this fact I threw at all the other moments of my life:
Shattered like snow on the windshield of history.


I synchronize my geological strata with your watch.
This is known as the decomposition of sense. This
is known as it moves towards you. The eyes need to
adjust your income of light as you drink it in. There is a
shortage. The light inflates. The light disperses. Oh God,
she moaned, approaching the fictional closure of orgasm.
I perform you. My inhibitions, my specter, my closet.
A shadow is cast from me like a body. Like a fishing line,
like a cry for help, like a metaphor toward its analogue, like
an analogue clock toward the wall. I shred my air like a warrant,
like a metaphor for the space relating you to the background,
you to the uneven landscape you’re drenched in.
We have a word for this metaphor. But the formal constraints
of the new sympathy would beg me to disagree. Beg for me. 

Mathilda Cullen is a poet and translator. She is a central committee member of Woe Eroa, a press dedicated to printing and developing an explicitly Marxist, militant poetics. Her forthcoming works include Vormorgen: The Collected Poems of Ernst Toller (The Operating System, 2021) and Stanzas for Four Hands: An Ophanim with Dominick Knowles (woe eroa, 2021). She also hosts the Prolesound podcast, making her a podcaster, unfortunately.