Why do snake tongues divide,
not to lie but
to penetrate some space never
exceeding the grasp of their

A fork for truing
the new dimension,
before their noses
which are not proscenium
but part of the face,
their unequal otherness
in hat and hand
and absent all that way.

Oh wounded
disabled second self,
trying the undecided exit
and always in return
a reticulated failure,
tongue tied to
the extended throat,
a conduit that
finishes nowhere.
You’ve never even been that
tongue tracing ochre roads
in the spring.

This jaw, remaining
opened and closed, envowels
all the missing food
you drag
behind you
in both parts of
your doublecolored brain.



Tupac thinks “I was dead to the
world before I was born, is one
way to think about history or
dying.” But he perches against
the wind that spindles everything
that interests him, and forgets
what he never knew, clock towers
and men in knickers, with
canes, ignoring how numbers
pick the alphabet for readers
four miles away, as if something
needed to fall, or a head should
tumble into baskets, over the hills,
(Which hemisphere hangs my head?)
and the blue squares that make no sense in their
relay capture of his pose, their
cattle chute affection for him,
a cradle of television screenality.
Behind him, floating before him,
choosing to say nothing, alert
to his time at the yard, the phantom
blowing of his portal, restored
by weights, and then blown again, the guillotine
that awaited him in the storm.



Eric Wertheimer is Professor of English at Arizona State University. He is the author of Underwriting: The Poetics of Insurance in Early America and Imagined Empires: Incas, Aztecs, and the New World of American Literature, 1771–1876, as well as other works of poetry and prose. Mylar, his first book of poetry, was published in 2012.