Two Poems by Annie Christain

We Never Really Touch Anyone Because of Molecules

 “Kubrick himself was reported as being tearful wandering around the set of the huge centrifuge after filming on 2001 was complete.”

Anyone can wear molecules of what they say they represent,                                                                    but I need yours.

The boombox I place over my head                                                                                                                                                 outside your window                                                                                                    is recording proof of your existence

though colliding isn’t actually touching.

I described the rings of Jupiter into the tape recorder                                                                                  before NASA reported on them

(a cymbal as a surgical tool),

and if we are all mathematical
gearwheel cut-outs,                                                                                                                                                the first programmable device,

              that means you are too.

All I know is that a fallen-one who is not in your body                                                                                                                            is in hell.
My brain fills in the rest.

In the documentary,
I made a Valentine’s Day card that said:                                                                                                                            I love Mama                                                                                                                                  because she keeps a gun at her bedside table,

but the filmmaker said that wasn’t a good reason.

I told him he never had to realize,                                                                                                                                      while naked and bleeding,
how even the color of his front door                                                                                                                  could set someone off in this world.

I just wanted to trick him into saying
he was there too.

One family kept all concepts of time and dates
                              away from their daughter.
                 Another child broke her bones for attention.

My church has a sanctuary just for this
                                                           I built for you.

These days,
the equivalent of thirteen people taking off their clothes
                              trying to make the calendar work
               with one or two blank days I’m trapped in
is heavy on my mind.

I saw Jupiter’s rings,
               but in the folds from one moment to another
                                it’s not a face—it’s a city;

it’s not space—
               it’s a black rectangle inserted in the frame.

In Revelation, John wrote locusts.
Vietnam vets say cobra helicopters,

or John just had a vision of a helicopter movie,
and the movie was only made
                             so John would see it.

(A widescreen cinema screen
                             and the monolith from 2001
share the same dimensions.)

People my age know all about special children
               with electrodes on our heads
moving military milk-cap coinage[1] with our minds
being asked how we feel.

                                 I still haven’t gotten paid.

I only left my body to access
the doctored photo of Jupiter’s rings—

               no actual ones exist.

Some human-looking face
                 in a stone wall
or in the chalk-toss pregame ritual
isn’t what you are,

it’s just what helps me to survive.

[1] “So, the Army has been using POGS on their bases in Iraq and Afghanistan — not as toys, but as currency.” Comics Alliance. Laura Hudson, May 7, 2009


Another Boy Who Needs Two Women’s Laps He Can Make Right

 “That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’s.” Exodus 13:12

He got stabbed once, and I know why.
               He has the right number of ribs that make him a man.

Every time my wife speaks about him,
another piece of the waveform goes missing,

                              and I miss forgetting what it is that people do.

He and I were friends,
but the word “matrix” is in the King James Bible now and didn’t used to be,
               so things can change.

He told my wife: No one else needs to know,
when he offered to fuck her,
                 and she thinks he only said it to make himself feel pretty.

I wonder about his wife.

My wife says: Who he is when he’s not with me
                            has nothing to do with me.

 Look how I’m not wrapping twine around his base.

I know his favorite porn star likes what she gets
because he said so.

I’m so good at fucking my wife with a fake cock
              that Satan yells to his friends: The fox is in the museum, when I do,
and I can finally relax.

All I need are ants, photons,
             and stem cell syringes primed for foreplay

                             to be enough.

I read in a tech magazine that her finger twitches
                             when he thinks about it behind the interface,

but she says it doesn’t mean anything
because he’s always drunk when he does it.

I brace myself for the predator’s growl,
the sound that only registers on top of my chest
                              when God delights himself.

His enormous head my wife and I see no matter where we drive
got a diner named after it.

Just when I begin to think there can be other people.

If I could stop looking in my mouth,
              these problems would go away,
                                                                                       but I can’t.

              A pop sound in my brain
                            occurring at the same time
as a bombing thousands of miles away
is just a medical condition.

My wife hears it and says:
If you kill yourself, make it look like an accident for me and the kids.

I’m doing ok,
but I have all these helical growths now.

As a friend,
he sends her another photo of a broken pipe he fixed.

I tell myself I can practice any kind of medical procedure I want
               on Simulab Corporations’s TraumaMan.

I can only come now
                if I imagine his cum,
a light that bounces through her
                                              until it’s weaker and weaker.

To be fair, I did ignore her for years.

                 Now I’m always cold down there or just defensive.

I want to see the clean hole that can then start healing,
                                            I text him from her phone,

and when he arrives at our house,
he’s just another boy who needs two women’s laps
                he can make right.

His body, an antennae to my thoughts I didn’t consent to.
It’s how heterosexual men archive women completely.

              I knew he is more than what my wife and he both say he is.

Somebody’s son, somebody’s brother.
               Somebody’s transferable anointing.

               I say no to everything.

              The horizon is a beast where kids practice marriage.

It’s how you begin to want someone
              and then want someone else to want you more.

Annie Christain is an associate professor of composition and ESOL at SUNY Cobleskill and a former artist resident of the Shanghai Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the Arctic Circle Art and Science Expedition. Her poems have appeared in Seneca Review, Oxford Poetry, The Chariton Review, and The Lifted Brow, among others. She received the grand prize of the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the Oakland School of the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award, and the Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. Tall As You Are Tall Between Them, her debut poetry book, was published in fall 2016 by C&R Press.