A pity the selfsame vehicle that spirits me away from 
factories of tedium should likewise serve to drag 
me backwards into panic, or that panic should erect 

massive factories of its own, their virulent pollutants 
havocking loved waterways, frothing all the reed- 
fringed margins acid pink and gathering in the shell 

and soft tissues of the snails unknowingly in danger 
as they inch up stems. Through the bulkhead door 
I can hear their spirals plunk into the sluggish south- 

bound current and dissolve therein with such brutal 
regularity their dying has given rise to the custom 
of measuring time here in a unit known as the snailsdeath. 

The snailsdeath refers to the average length of time, 
about 43 seconds, elapsing between the loss of the first 
snail to toxic waters and the loss of the next, a value 

equivalent to the pause between swallows in a human 
throat, while the adverb “here” refers to my person 
and all its outskirts, beginning on the so-called cellular 

level extending more or less undaunted all the way down 
to the vale at the foot of the bed. I often fear I’ll wake 
to find you waiting there and won’t know how to speak 

on the subject of my production, or rather my woeful 
lack thereof, but in your absence, once again, I will begin 
drafting apologies in a language ineffectual as doves. 


Daybreak on my marshland: a single egret, blotched, 
trudges through the froth. I take its photograph 
from the rooftop observation deck from which I watch 

day’s delivery trucks advance. I take advantage of 
the quiet before their arrival to organize my thoughts 
on the paranormal thusly: 1. If the human psyche 

has proven spirited enough to produce such a range 
of material effects upon what we’ll call the closed 
system of its custodial body, indeed if it’s expected to, 

and 2. If such effects might be thought to constitute 
the physical expression of that psyche, an emanation 
willed into matter in a manner not unlike a brand- 

new car or cream-filled cake or disposable camera, 
and 3. If the system of the body can be swapped out 
for another, maybe an abandoned factory or a vale,