Learned Has Two Syllables and I Only Have One


I moved into
a painting

of the woods
I put some red

in the place
where it looked

like red
should go

The machine
who was

my audience
had not yet

learned to tell
the difference

between blood
and a robin

so it didn’t
matter if

I didn’t
say more

I was going

a readjustment
no more

painful than
a thicket

I had made
things plainer

and less abstract
Whose woods—Ha

ha you mean
whose blood






The Running of Several Simulations at Once May Lead to Murky Data


How do you say ‘inopportune’
in a small forest of cell phone towers
disguised as bizarrely regular trees?
I am asking in case it happens,
because anything can and even does.
Sometimes I want to shrink
and move into a miniature model village
mostly because the particular green
of the imaginary grass corresponds
with how my body believes joy would feel
if joy were to happen here on Earth,
where my eyes receive light in this
certain way: limited, but not
without pleasure. As a child
I visited one model village
so extensively constructed I fell
into a state of complete wonder—
‘They thought of everything!’
even the person running late
for the train, and the window
left slightly open to the storm—
and I should like to request
the arrival of this sensation in response
to the world at its actual scale—
just imagine! Someone
has even gone to the trouble
of filling the egg cartons
individually with smooth brown
eggs and one—such detail!—
has broken, but not enough
to be noticed before the carton
has been paid for and brought home.
Sometimes artificially I will
induce this feeling in myself
by going silent at a large
restaurant gathering, pretending
—until it is real—that each person
is speaking from a highly naturalistic script,
having carefully rehearsed each
tiny gesture, the mid-sentence reach
for the salt, and I fall immediately
in love with my companions,
in awe of their remarkable talent
for portraying with such detailed conviction
the humans I know as my friends.




Photograph © Bart Vetters

Joanna Kavenna
and Peter Pomerantsev
In Conversation
The Spread