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Authors: T. Zachary Cotler


BOOK: Supplice
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The Colorado Prize for Poetry

Strike Anywhere,
by Dean Young selected by Charles Simic, 1995

Frayed escort,
by Karen Garthe selected by Cal Bedient, 2005

Summer Mystagogia,
by Bruce Beasley selected by Charles Wright, 1996

Carrier Wave,
by Jaswinder Bolina selected by Lyn Hejinian, 2006

The Thicket Daybreak,
by Catherine Webster selected by Jane Miller, 1997

Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems,
by Craig Morgan Teicher selected by Paul Hoover, 2007

Palma Cathedral,
by Michael White selected by Mark Strand, 1998

One Sun Storm,
by Endi Bogue Hartigan selected by Martha Ronk, 2008

Popular Music,
by Stephen Burt selected by Jorie Graham, 1999

The Lesser Fields,
by Rob Schlegel selected by James Longenbach, 2009

by Sally Keith selected by Allen Grossman, 2000

by Zach Savich selected by Donald Revell, 2010

A Summer Evening,
by Geoffrey Nutter selected by Jorie Graham, 2001

Scared Text,
by Eric Baus selected by Cole Swensen, 2011

Chemical Wedding,
by Robyn Ewing selected by Fanny Howe, 2002

Family System,
by Jack Christian selected by Elizabeth Willis, 2012

Goldbeater's Skin,
by G. C. Waldrep selected by Donald Revell, 2003

by Catherine Imbriglio selected by Stephen Burt, 2013

by Rusty Morrison selected by Forrest Gander, 2004

by T. Zachary Cotler selected by Claudia Keelan, 2014


T. Zachary Cotler

The Center for Literary Publishing

Colorado State University

Copyright © 2014 by T. Zachary Cotler.

Winner of the 2014 Colorado Prize for Poetry.

All rights reserved.

For information about permission to reproduce

selections from this book, write to

Permissions, Center for Literary Publishing

9105 Campus Delivery, Department of English

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-9105

Printed in the United States of America.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Cotler, T. Zachary, 1981-

[Poems. Selections]

Supplice / by T. Zachary Cotler.

pages ; cm. -- (Colorado prize for poetry)

978-1-885635-41-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) --

978-1-885635-42-6 (electronic)

I. Title.

PS3603.o86833A6 2014


The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,

1 2 3 4 5     18 17 16 15 14

Excerpts from this sequence have appeared in
Poetry, Explosion-Proof, Diode
, and the
New York Times



on Earth

Struck a chime of delta clay,

This alien salt,

A little heap of salt.

And sleep inside inside

Naked to you

When a weathervane spins at a constant speed


What if I open this?

What if he loves what's “perfect,”

Place in which nothingness

of desiring

She tells him one night of her long dead sister

Temple of Discontinuity . . . a single night-long sigh,

Hurt but to heal, to cool—what heat,


Vacuum tubes from old

—that she can hold his head

The other shore

Hurt but what one asked to feel,

Raking lace

Wax seal and watermark

Open your mouth, he will see


And yet what Earth was this not quite

And when will you be here?

A man built a watch.


Harbor hidden in the heat

On a still day, on a fallow hill

One x
ends to one


A man came down from the mountain

How near now to asymptote zero

He took the book

Needles and snow fall behind

Out the cabin window,

Walking over particles

She flips from mock-irenic to


She took him to her gallery.

Drunk on liquid capital, skipping,

Listening yes, but from such a remove,

Video art or an ad (he can't

Away from the violently quieted

Vulturine zeitgeist

The mask's eyes: strabismic,


Because there was—

A neural fire becomes

Where are we
at the edge

A bed in a windowless room.

House on a seaport road. And that

Ship of December

American rain and French lace.

on Earth

was this not quite

if I crossed out,
this not-quite-

possible-to-say, and yet

the only possible to call

a life,
so too effaceable,

this last and first

repeating endlessly, but all

at once,

like a book of numberless

pages in a wind tunnel turning

always the same

page of first lastness

abyss of light.

Struck a chime of delta clay,

first lastness of

a lifelong day:

sans aveu

that the rest is the fall

from erotic noon into

a simple Lethe

that is not a river but a word

he can't recall

by the time the bedside

clock reads 10,

all the out-to-sea of all

remaining time for him

to follow one zero.

This alien salt,

not of chlorine

and sodium,

but of lust

and indifference

(a twilace veil,

across a face expressionless

except for a trace

of the éxpress

.5-truth of the statement

“this statement is false,”

blown aside) dissolved

in Lethe falls

from Supplice's eyes.

A little heap of salt.

The breath of two asleep,

her hand on his desert

face, his knee

in the bight of her waist.

A Middle Kingdom cult.

The death that isn't deep

is what millennia believed

was set aside for you, oneiric

white sand sun lagoon.

An arctic meter melts.

The rest is pillars

falling two by two: she wakes,

he wakes, he sleeps, she sleeps.

And sleep inside inside

her being time, waiting for

escape from brittle, worn

thin metaphors

inside their

it's 11 p.m. in eternity,

and it is a patience as future-old

as space, what is necessary now

within now within now,

if any being any time is to escape

from the smallest doll,

a patience so extended

it would remain after all

waiting had ended.

Naked to you

at the end of a long blank hall,

his clock face

of surrender to

beauty is terror to you,

and if A=B, the reverse is true

to you

at the end of a Louvre

stripped of art, misconstrued

as a safe place in which to at last

come true, asking why if

beauty to him is

you, the reverse is

to you.

When a weathervane spins at a constant speed

in a wind disbanding a phalanx of snapdragon

petals tossed spindrifting over your shoulder,

petals as ideograms for

you may touch me but
perishing, bright,

draconian parts of your sentience blow

out of range, out of what you call

love at a constant speed: a petal

for telomeres splitting to

a petal for Adam-

strands warping with Eve-

strands and thinner, more cháotic

ideograms in a night's weft tossed.

Wind over Belarus, wind over Boston.

What if I open this?

door at the end of a huntress-

gatherer cry

at the climax of

sans toi,

pulling thesis by

the line of finest hair

from Delphi down

to Olduvai—spears

beating in common time

with her heart, against shields

of stretched hide—synthesis

beating in time with his heart in his wrist,

flexed, with his hand on the latch.

What if he loves what's “perfect,”

a word that has no sense (so

the book is incomplete), but in the city

of abandoned sense, by the well

of perfect waterlessness, a sense

gets picked up from the stones

by a public that doesn't remember

how angry it is (it is

an accident to them, like finding

a piece of money), how paper-dry

and ready to combust from thirst,

and the sense goes into the billion

pockets, to be perfectly forgot,

like the Eightfold Path and the City of God.

Place in which nothingness

grows like a kudzu,

nothing to rant about

nothing to do.

Past the edge of that place,

a faint quintet,

a Schumannic rite

he believed he believed

he could hear, ear

to her nothinging chest

at night. Quintet

of not having

eternity, of not having

consented to not having

you, absent eternity.

of desiring

godspeed telecommunion

without older intimacies

slipping into disunion;

of desiring a cure

for old age, for disease,

BOOK: Supplice
5.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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