ii. O Nibiru
Our solar system may be defined by another planet.
With an orbit tens of thousands of years in measure, said planet may be four times the size of Earth, an order of magnitude more massive.
Referred to as Planet Nine, Planet Ten, Planet X, Nemesis, and Nibiru in sometimes dubious literature—the hypothetical rock has been blamed for things:
a hard rain of trailing comets that will obliterate us perhaps as early as next month.
Any next month.
And this—it comforts me.
It is not that I do not fascinate myself. I do.
My body does, words, ideas both fail at.
The limit to all fascination—mortality—and most especially, everyone’s, places it within a context.
An illusion of limitlessness.
If at all moments we faced certainty not of single end but scorched sphere, we might alter the ways we attempt to translate ourselves into the future.
How might we is the wonder.
Pain is a strange motive. Lit, as in a church.
I am moved by pain not to move, then spend my unmoving time experiencing stillness as both chronic and acute failure.
I prefer Alleve to other painkillers. For this, I could give reasons specific as lies.
I simply like the name. Institutional blue calms me.
Baby aspirin are a pink that reminds me of their taste and of erasers.
Pink has a bitterness—the tongue coated in fiction.
No today, no ballet no yoga. The mind begets itself in knots.
As it does in churches.
For spring it is cold after a winter too warm.
I am sad for glaciers.
I have never been farther North than Ottawa. But I know a woman, an old classmate moved to Alaska, who chases the Aurora in the long frigid night and makes photographs of articulate light.
Her media postings are a service.
When my son Bishop asked what he should do for his community, I told him maybe find something to document.
It would be good if it were beautiful I said and (if at all possible) not leaving us.
Lately I’ve stopped apologizing/Just as new wave of zero-sum thinking has risen.
I’m told I should rage against by my fundamentally inescapable space-uptaking while simultaneously practicing radical self-care (get thee to a nunnery).
I have run to shore.
The sudsy lull laps at my toes in the cold sand.
I think about numbness. The practice.
I miss the intensity once over the crest of melancholy. The crying jags even.
The way music would surge through the seat of any car to throttle me as the sky did its Brontë thing in an echo of song, really a manifestation of my soul (I want to believe) that had leaked out into the world and someone else’s voice.
College radio station, mixtape, the curated truth.
There is this one thing/I never had a girl.
Is it possible to descri/be the girl you never had nor were?
I think of her in contradictory colors.
She is valedictorian and heroin addict.
She doesn’t exist to punish and to spare me.
I love her now more than I would if she existed.
There is some deep crevasse in me that hikers have fallen down.
But I am melting, I am melting.
And this—this is a ridiculous document.
There is this other thing about not apologizing: I don’t want to be a girl anymore.
I didn’t want that ten years ago/I don’t remember wanting that.
(I want to believe) I didn’t.
Have I missed something? Does twelve possess some tremendous power twelve cannot wield?
Here, I can only posit Nabokov.
A great secret has invisibly zeppelined far above my five-foot frame.
Must I be so outside I’m theoretical?
Worlds shrivel and die at the approach of other worlds. So.
I’ve committed myself to the Kuiper belt and its ice bodies these past aeons.
When I was twelve, everything hurt.
Numbness is a practice.
You can bottle pain almost as well as its killers/I’ve a ship.
I am helping a man who kept a journal thirty years ago recover that journal.
I help him dive into the Amazon he traveled down in the journal, in South America, in the seventies.
A silly spendthrift American boy, he didn’t understand the magnitude of the hospitality he was ever accepting.
A priest now, he has kind eyes that sometimes skim over people and sometimes lock in.
His records are not poems.
I envy him his geography.
It is bad to think of travel as a way to re-, dis-, uncover the self not in glory but in self.
I do think like that.
I think what I think is true/What I think is childish.
I am worried about being like a child when really it is all I want.
Not to be perceived as a child, but to perceive like a child.
Feelingly into everything.
A small boat was tied to the bigger boat, a bath boat specifically towed behind for this purpose.
The river water the man poured over himself was brown, him as pale and wiry at 25 as he is at 60.
I envy him his body, naked, rivered with the Amazon, free to bathe beside other men.
I envy fear that attaches itself only to the wild.
My fear is familiar as soap.
I’ve been told, repeatedly, that Elizabeth Bishop is a cold fish.
I feel like you and I could not have been reading the same Bishop. If you said that.
My husband rarely reads my work.
Sometimes I read my work to him, and novels. Sometimes my own novels and sometimes historical fiction.
Right now I am reading a few pages of sci-fi to him in bed most nights.
The moon fractured and the Earth dead.
We are fifty pages from the moment the book leaps five thousand years into the future. We joke about skipping those fifty pages.
When we first met, we played chess.
Chess was a passport for me—it marked me among dancers. I knew brilliant dancers then, but they didn’t funnel their intellect down long tubes of logic divorced from time.
To solve a puzzle like chess is to live on board or boat in a state of outward static and inward fear.
To win, I had to accept the necessity and logic of sacrifice/Nearly everyone will die.
My avatar on the board could only be the king, whose lack of mobility combined with game-ending centrality was a huge turn-off.
Innuendo, my passport back.
An illustrator I know has a book: Everything Goes. For children. So.
Perhaps not about global death.
The pictures are about moving in vehicles. The body is not, in the context of this book, a vehicle.
My mother has metal parts.
I, too, have metal/A vehicle on my lap and I am transported.
I’ve also a book. It fails in its imagination to move beyond the Earth’s orbit.
A woman in the book gets trapped in her own time, a recycling anything but progressive.
We think we can solve every situation by adjusting personal action.
This—it is folly.
Some situations require upheaval. That something be displaced for else to thrive.
When I stopped policing my physicality, a poem.
But this is a zero-sum thought (I refuse to believe).
As a child I felt my impossibility—amalgamation of mover and thinker—as visceral. A paradox of form that could only ruin me.
By saving whom the wonder.
I’ve a ship. Nibiru, the anti-planet, the planet-killer.
I can sustain nothing/Metaphor is my nothing.
As it is in churches.
Rage is singly outward: explosion. To orbit, balanced between fall and flight, is to be caged in the creation of a cage.
We loop and the loop is our bigBad.
The noose, remaining constant in circumference, tightens against our thrashing.
The phenomenon, the paradox, of growth.
Is there this practice: to outbox oneself?
In Buddhism greater and lesser vehicles provide different passages to enlightenment.
Tubes, rivers, catwalks.
A professor I adored once likened the different understandings to the interpretations of parables.
I write so people can understand/I write so not everyone understands.
Keats might believe both without rancor but died too early to say. Jesus, also, a young death.
Why do we trust them more?
Did they refrain, by dying, from some unacceptable number of recorded hypocrisies?
They were (I take it) pre-modern enough.
Their young wrongs not embroidered upon their public souls.
What a luck.
I want to know exactly what an adequate apology for growth looks like.
Hari kari or slow, metallic fade to black?
Beneath some hem my clanking parts are showing like lace, or dayglo, or mistake.
Beware those without footprints. Who know the game before anyone should know the game.
The preternaturally stealth, haunting the outer reaches without visible contradiction.
Beware the non-multitudinous, the one-track, the thumbtack through the medial eye.
Its blinding fluoride.
I cannot remain at any edge. A nomad, I trust only nomads.
We must lie to carry on, a smile behind a hand, a new relationship to water.
Do not assume a veil deceit because it bears the color of translation.
I have found most violent what is most blatant.
No surface withstands all we are/Membranes shrink from what they contain.
We implode, raging inward.
Towards the uninhabited space.
I would rather be nuanced to death.
In Giselle, a peasant woman—dumped by a slumming aristocrat on her wedding day—goes mad. She dies, her hair wild. End Act I.
I prefer not to consider all the complexities.
Class, gender, ergot, sunspots.
Affluenza is the flipside of punching down.
I distrust so many aspects of direction/North is not good.
East, not holy.
Not until too late did I learn all seven (zenith, nadir, interior).
I learned port and starboard and regatta were not universal late last week while trying to lose my race.
Bodies may be re-oriented to the planet’s at every next shift. How did I not realize?
The world has rights.
The world has left.
When the poles reverse, it will not be the same as.
Revolution, for earth, is the status quo.
Consider geological time, its violent upheaval and overthrow/The tilling of our soil into dust.
Dinosaur, sloth, astronaut.
Our star trek: when explore is replaced by escape, when escape is renamed survival, when survive means to linger meaninglessly.
The dead brides in Giselle’s graveyard—her compatriots—they danced all men to death.
Revenge is not a nuanced practice.
The first zombie ballet lasts and lasts. Their shoes do not. Pancake make-up on satin to dumb it down. To soften the blow to the eye. Dampen reflection.
The morning I learned I was not, alone, enough—that was my death dawn.
Giselle never said Flee from your audience, they feed, and they feed.
She might have/Were a ballerina a speaking thing.
Last night Brooklyn was too loud—like the day I saw Face Off.
I did not want to watch a brawl. Just as I do not want incremental to in all contexts be a dirty word.
We rot quickly I have been noticing, and intransigence is now an admirable quality.
Incrementally: how I have learned to be by myself.
This—it is a lie.
I would be headed that way had I a compass I trusted, but I want no more election by needle.
Audience Reaction Indicator/Vote/Heroin/Applause.
Simple is seductive. He is rich, she is poor, it is doomed. End Act I.
Now. How to hold the audience during intermission?
Burlesquing poets or gunpoint or wine?
Nuance means in-urgent. It means too slow to act, glacier-less.
But I won’t lie to you. Anymore.
Without nuance, madness is the rule. Meanness. We will act, and poorly.
Democracy devolves. And freedom without discipline will embrace tyranny.
Pain drives us/Numbness.
This brings me no joy: the fact that urgency (while stirring) guarantees only the feeling that force is justified.
Force is, I will not deny this, justified.
I want to believe:
in intensity (color)
in motion (my bread and butter—though I ate less back then)
in methodology (not irrelevant: note the litotes)
in tone (not nothing).
Rhetorically, repetition can work either for evasion or emphasis.
Giselle is one of the white ballets, even in the Creole version.
It is a harvest story.
All revenge porn is.
I skipped a day. Over a lifetime, several.
They laze on the sidewalk among the chalk squares and stones, un-taken up.
Jugglers are single-minded.
A percussionist does not draw up a blueprint, but has learned to live on the wake/A juggler rarely juggles her own weight.
I would use scarves. The way they hang in the air before snatched out again—a magik.
When my sons leave the house, will I learn a language? Or will I knit because I can then give those parts of myself away, as I am used to?
Questions are a bullshitter’s way of introducing an idea I am scared of.
Age is a cunning carapace. It does not protect except as it decreases my relevance.
I cannot lift my body off the sidewalk/It is okay, though, that I lie here.
I know this because of how people walk by. No one stops to kneel on my neck or chest. My lifeless body—white, female, un-young—does not threaten or lure.
The lyric I: one species of debris.
The phonepoem is latexual.
Technology, also, a membrane.
Architecture is beetleback, is exoskeleton.
Windows are gills.
The door is any kind of mouth/The ear.
Cameralife condoms us, keeps us clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness which is currently defined by its ugly divorce from human action. Upon a handkerchief’s-worth, we are prepared to put out the light.
I have considered divorce.
Not divorce but leaving him. Them. All of it.
The idea stops me, before I’ve stopped to consider why I’m considering it.
Other selfishnesses do not have the same effect.
I write poetry.
I keep keeping.
My persistence segregates me from world. Ships me into a bottle. A jar. Drives me to Tennessee.
I am rolled up, again, the hill. There—I neither sail nor sink.
If a prince dies, who becomes King?
Someone must be next to be god.
I’ve had too many dreams wherein I sidle up to his right flank and gab/O the withering.
God is always manly but the look is a woman’s.
He is all baba yaga in the eyes.
If a prince dies, are we sadder?
His relative youth, storied beauty, lack of policy.
Did these work for Denmark? Did gender?
If a prince dies, who will dig—if you will—the grave?
I listen to them cut, the dead. Their knives—butterfly, bowie.
I feel pressed into a vinyl sheet and deeply grooved. Overplayed. My hands.
They flutter. I skip.
Days, stones on the river, conversations with the living loved.
I lift the needle, avoiding the track I want most to play.
Today it is “Starman”/Every day— “Computer Blue.”
I write a song.
It is a poem and a planetkiller.
It does not rhyme with oranges nor organize the wilderness.
It does not draw all such humors from me, redeliver.
Once the electromagnetic pulse comes and electricity is denied us, there will be far less re-.
Deliveries, yes/Blackouts make babies—anchor babies that hold to the light.
These ones will never text.
These ones will die of simple things.
Gunshots, jealousy, the flu.
My mother convinced me over decades that crises, generally speaking, shouldn’t.
Push down down down to be jack-in-the-boxed.
Has anyone died of surprise? Other than bath salts, I mean.
A few years ago, the end of the world: a guy on the side of the freeway in Florida eating another guy and both of them naked.
The next zombie ballet.
I don’t watch horror anymore even as it is piped through every portal into my home, symphonically, unwanted/Stravinskied, everything becomes public domain.
Going through means pushing down, which was also an action during childbirth.
Bearing down, bearing up. Bearing.
That pain was productive, and I was able to fragment my intensity into brief bouts of joy for a few years apiece.
Three children, three reprieves from the self.
I should not have. My mother raised five. Or, it was seven.
Invest in others when you feel it coming on. Like train or truck—you will not avoid the damage it will do, but it will pass.
Your need to know yourself will pass. It will. There is music you can play.
Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, Nick Drake, The Rite of Spring.
You can put the radio on in the car, or on the train in your earbuds, and press scan. You can listen to three seconds—but only three seconds—of every single thing.
Nibiru is coming.
Nibiru, long-cycler, ellipticalcitrant.
Nibiru: the ninth planet, aka Nemesis aka Planet X aka baba yaga aka Jane.
Nibiru is coming to unhome us and the timing could not be more fit.
Believe me, there are people, they have told me (and I too am great at this, have good thoughts, the earth all redded up for terror) of the comet rains, deferring dreams unto extinction.
This is how time is not, how we do not choose to be discharged, into evaporate, once atmosphere, no longer sphere, no form but fire/But we shall be.
This—you might call it release.
Once there were (are) people who navigated by stars and through (and though) their hearts (be) threaded with annihilation they took and took.
And were us.
One swift glance and it is done—Nibiru.
immense as purpose
its maths oceanic
With aftermaths stirring as lullabies unsung at the very depth of stillbirth. Swung low.
May there be no passage, no crossing over.
O rock of sleep, of all ages exhausted of us as we fail, and fail beyond any measurable capacity for failure.
I think time is no longer for us, Nibiru—
called Dearest One, or sometimes Atalanta, Apollonia, Beloved, or Grace.
You will come and you must
You will come and you must
You will come and you must
We have middled far/Far too long in our preparations.
We should not have.
Kirsten Kaschock is the author of three poetry books: Unfathoms (Slope Editions 2004), A Beautiful Name for a Girl (Ahsahta Press 2011), and The Dottery (University of Pittsburgh Press 2014). A fourth poetry book, Confessional Science-Fiction: A Primer was selected by Eric Baus as winner of the Subito Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in November 2016 from Subit Press—a press out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.