Poetry by Claire Donato

Art: The Savages



I have imagined my life as a container with a flat base and sides.

I have watched its contents expand in consequence of the atmosphere’s increasing rarefaction.

I have noted it cascading down, and I’ve wiped it away
to the last trace, leaving only remorse behind, and

I have grown impatient looking inward, so I refresh my inbox
twelve times, although the conclusion is always the same:

——————-Dear Claire,

——————-Thank you for submitting your poetry. We regret
——————-that we are unable to carry your work, but we are grateful.

But I am not Claire. I am five people.

Or, I am the sum of the five people
with whom I spend the most time,

none of whom know the reality of my crisis, and/or
how I have grown thinner

thanks to photographs of bodies that reflect
“achievable health goals.”

Nor do they know I have visited http://apply.interfolio.com at least twice today in a gesture of professional wrath.

Nor can they imagine the ways I envision the world ending.

“haha but oh torture is amazing”

What’s unclear, of course, is how I’m going to die.


I press pause and wait for a reply.


I have published at least 48 objects of despair whose square root, Google tells me, is 4√3. But step-by-step simplification is not part of my psychic landscape, and I cannot theorize free radicals apart from form, for I stood alone together in Zuccotti Park in November and noted the simultaneously comedic and exhilarating affect induced by the People’s Mic, and so too did I employ this means
for speech as an NYPD officer fingered his pepper spray canister while admiring my cardboard sign containing a sentence via Julia Kristeva: “There is nothing better than words, above all words, to deepen and sustain debate.”

And I have refreshed my inbox only twice in the middle of this line, which is both a political gesture and an object of despair I carry with me
in the street as I walk home alone on this 70°F November
evening, neither admiring nor disapproving of my life, but rather
watching its fissures, spaces separating convolutions of the brain
where thoughts are live online for everyone to like, although
some require two to three waves of repetition, e.g.,
1) “Is misery place-based?” and 2) “Should I run away?”

Even in this—our exuberant century of doves spreading across the heart
of the computer—there are no operations.

There is no easy or pain-free way to cure anything.

Claire Donato is the author of Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013) and The Second Body (Poor Claudia, 2016; Tarpaulin Sky Press, forthcoming). Recent writing has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Fanzine, BOMB, Poetry Society of America, and The Elephants. Digital language art has been screened as MoMA PS1, Knockdown Center, Harvard, and University Fernando Pessoa. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the BFA Writing Program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

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