Susan Briante


Better Than Paris

Good morning, I love you late     for a meeting     I am still
in bed our faces turned to our respective cardinal points
south/northif we are speaking only of heritage, degrees of melatonin.

Architecture shapes the body

no matter the square footage, I feel a thin frame
around me,a 1920s duplex: a thin white border
as in old photographsaround
this middle-class winter.

A shopping bag gallops down the middle of Ross Ave like some bad-ass
cat.

Last night, looking for a parking space near the Dallas Public Library
I got lost, turned right past orange construction barrels,
corporate headquarters, county commissions, convention centers
turned circles

in a downtown built in the late 1970s on the scale of a capital city
in some developing country, launched like a wind-tossed plastic bag
into a future at the farthest end of an uninterrupted plaza.

Door after glass door.
Not a cop, not a vagrant in sight.

At the ruins of Pompeii, Melville writes like any other town. All the same
whether one be dead or alive. Pompeii comfortable sermon.

Last night, I dreamt I held a stone with an oyster shell
surface, some artifact of the soul
5 years
the stone-shell gave me
existentially, perhaps, geographically
perhaps I should stop worrying about my IRA.

Melville liked Pompeii better than Paris.

The Germans have a word for this
feeling of walking across an interminably long space, this feeling
that we will never arrive at our destination: platzangst.

I watch a gray dove walk across Ross Ave
in full morning
traffic
if it's gray I call it a pigeon, even here in the south
west walking across Ross Ave as if it didn't have a wing
to its name.



Susan Briante is the author of the chapbooks True to Scale and Neotropics: A Romance in Field Notes. Her poetry, essays, and translations have appeared in The Believer, Creative Non-Fiction, and New American Writing, among others. A co-editor of the journal Superflux, Briante is an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her first full-length book of poetry, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, was published in Spring 2007 by Ahsahta Press.

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