In the annals of the Great Restlessness, Brandon Shimoda traces characters of a turbulent disquiet: these ruptured silences sound expanses and pour out insomniac rains. The rains are fumes or phantoms, diffusing poisons. There is no purity in this dreaming, a haunting that caresses the body’s boundaries, that retains both temperament and appetite.

In their casting, open lines, the poems gesture to states and violations beyond their porous frames. Sleep exceeds the giant, as the thread its spindle, and the harm which hovers in the trees, staining intimacies. The world's incursions, tender and lewd—see how often it licks or laps its consumable inhabitants. Disquiet disfigures the person—human presence for Shimoda involves blurrings of gender and species, rapacity and sickness its fundamental terms. The gaze tainted and tainting, “Behind the hollow where eyes / Coil yellow snakes implacable.”

Historical violence inscribes a transgressive energy on the lyric, song the dissonant echo of “Gummy, embryonic skulls / And bomb shadows.” How to endure, how to bear, how to dream, how to rest in a “great and dying house suffused with a colicky light?” How to take nurture from an earth marked by despoliation and erasure, “No bodies to replant what were arguably seeds”? How to sleep without portent? Shimoda’s answers are the restless improvisations of response, the longing, hungering tongue of will and touch, disruption’s volatile material in lucid launchings: “A small horse ascending iron clouds is a fragile gas / Rippling the face of instructive evening.”

—Karen Volkman


for Molly McDonald

Walking out to the water
Is more than walking to an ocean of repetitive pardon
A receptive sky bending to lick a school of lavender
Stonecrop necks in the cold of a lone
Inversion, the enormity
Wihin walking
Together—it is not romantic
And herein lies the problem
With water and rocks
Magnanimous sky when the islands sink
A burning dirge, and thinking about
Oceanic rocks
Cloud tongue wetting the school of ice plants
Mute water and moss and tight water and rocks
Lapping the bones through the skin

Beams of color broken in two
Ocher and a precipitous garden
Your mind keeps literally afloat
A map as an instrument of the sun
Inside your poems your mouth
Withdraws a path of calendars wild
Overbearing the water
Until the shutters fall off the imploded house
Cliff-edge until your brain fans out
Fivefold. How will you write otherwise?
Mussels salivating little bridges in clapping
Forms loose in unaccompanied dawn?
How could you sleep as one and one?
With a seat thrust out of the rock
At the sea
You will always be held to the exilic grain
Sweeping the caps in their patterns of white
Is my problem, I know. You have only begun—



Seven satellites of the moon
Alight into our neighborhood
Lick the steeples from balls to prayer
Upon the shanty dwelling

Intentions of dwellings to buildings are buildings for fires
Neighbors slink thirstily to

You love them you clear blankets for them
Fill the space with grapes and massage
Fancy the reverent bobbing wish the consecratory light of
    the cross

Seven satellites circle Niagara
Men planted women wearing the lot of their plants skinned
Around their waists, Goodbye, Goodbye
To indigenous facts
Squash blossoms fallen to the floor
I.e. punishment sublimated into employ blossoms make
    welcoming slaughter

Several bleaches in the aerial shots of you and me
Wedged into the voluminous gears of the grocery
A small horse ascending iron clouds is a fragile gas
Rippling the face of instructive evening
Sit down it is early come on there is nothing to see

Late at night I wake up I stand before the leaded glass the
    ironing board
Upon which plants have been judiciously arranged
I touch the wantering Jew I touch teh jade I touch
The great and dying house suffused with a colicky light
The shades of disquiet look back at you flat in the sheets
Protect me, Depend on me moon damp apostrophe


A Giant Asleep in Fortune's Spindle

A nest of titanium and lead
Would surely

Feel a small girl in wind in
The basket she carries a rocket
More important than the sun
Forms before combustion waves off her rushed mantis legs
Held properly, yet harm
Springs from a doppelgänger in the trees
Where there are not

But hanging selves
The perfect self does a life’s–worth less

Pushing creation
From a perfect mask
Carrying means and I feel halved

Behind the hollow where eyes
Coil yellow snakes implacable
Landscape objects to a settled stare because

Like pregnant strides through lumber
Inauguration of mist betwixt scenes composed of kill
Forms of furthest land in back the manumit—

Tumbling a small girl a small room
Swamp mauled fruit
Take this body from its hood I do—


A Giant Asleep in Fortune's Spindle

Lake M

A round stone Solitary branch

Plumps in
The Midnight reception

Men to the prairie
Lifting talons. Capillary—

The emperor is taking a bath—Little one
Making the favorites. Open
Wide diffident dress and saucer—

Gummy, embryonic skulls
And bomb shadows. A lady inside a white
Translucent turnip. Beets and radishes chirping.

Prairie grass growing in equal measure
To a painting of prairie grass, a delicately gathered cloud
A fence brushed of brown water

Liquified in translation, papped peaches
Wobbling in the wood. Swallow. While bending—

The lady’s cream is chilled broth
Pickled cabbage and pudding. Salted
Mackerel. The emperor is cleaning his legs
With a sponge of oiled canvas
Lake–of–order bedazzling his groin

The view is of men dressed as women
Walking backwards into a peach blossom orchard
Displacing the leaves, you materialize


A Giant Asleep in Fortune's Spindle

I bang imagination through phantom translations
Pink sausages ruling the laity
In a bastardized tongue’s
Beautiful ribbon. Not a lick slides to the stomach

In the neighborhood mess—the clanging of thirty–
Six makeshift bells—liver, creamed
Potato, jam, holy sea–
Bedding and ripened stones

Twelve accomplishments
As proved the hunter. I liked
The hunter. I told the hunter to meet me beneath
The watchtower. Rain
Slowed. I promised I would pluck. Children
Dreaded wind on their backs
Cracking unwanted wind through
Changelings in the cross

Hairs. Many crying, many unhappy
Happy. Threatening
Agriculture. The watchtower careering into dead grass
No prey from below. No bodies amenable
To labor long hours. I told the back of his head
Receding. All sides
Mowed with a spray of fire
No bodies to replant what were arguably seeds

Additionally, wires running overland
Clogged with peach fish of Japanese
Blood in the throat