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FIRE REGIME ❋ Matthew Girolami

This work comes from the collection Fire Regime, which was shortlisted for The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors.



I was severed
I spent my severance
Can we talk about it
& can we do it with
the wrought iron serifs
of my first house’s windows’
bars where I was
crossed with sun
on the floor
of the living room
before I could pinch my salt
to sign my name
& sign my name
for the stuff that moves me?
I mean to think
I bought a car
to put some blood in a dream
& my tire burst into tears
on the shoulder
on the way to a graduation
I arrived at eventually only
to ask a strange man
for scotch
tape to tape
my blazer together
like the ghost of manners
the ghost of speech
the ghost that takes me
an education to hear
before I hear myself
in a room
with very beautiful rugs
asking how
does one do that?
How does one stitch
such a curve on such
an ornament?
To be told one doesn’t
You don’t stitch
You knot
& take your shoes off
& I did because I wanted
to thank the academy
for the library card
& the etymology
dictionary: I am
the gift of god
& his stenographer too:
I am [Jerome]
deadening a bible
I cannot read
I mispronounce
my dental records
having learned
how to speak
lipsyncing grace
at the dinner table
cat to cat
Repeat after trees



I wash my hands in the Rio Grande

The soil: an arrangement of infinite
shattered terra cotta pots

The earth was so soft

We drove our stakes
into the once river

Our shelter a vision:
verdant glitch
apparition of green green grass

Somehow coyotes survive
They cry all night

You say the world ends all the same
That doesn’t satisfy me

In the distance derricks
drink oil from the underworld



Before I can pay taxes the aptitude test tells me
I will mop floors or clean terms from a blackboard & I do

After work I wash chalk from my hands to touch quiet like
My mouth works & it works against my body smooth with acrylic envy

We shower to get warm in & I’ve told the story of the tattoo to myself
That when I tell you the story of the tattoo I don’t expect you to flinch

At the cherub the size of a dollar bill leaning on a single word physical
With the black of animal soot on the left where the heart is mistaken