Molly Brodak

The Elegiac Robot

Almost night and
branches box

a portion of iridescent sunset,
kind of a coffin.

Off to the back of the quarry,

but hollow wails from a turkey harem,
and bone break.

The sea coal pelt of a cat, 
utterly silent.

I’m a fool for distances. You
especially, all the way

away from me.
I’m telling you this now

because you know 
the cot where I was tied:

the game room,

the illusion.


Someone gave me this poem—

I know it is a forgery,

but it works ok.
It begins with 
the smell of rotten roses

and a clean 

no creature—

no clocks, no phones.
It abuts


this part.
Helpless as the marble slab.

Every dream is a corner torn from
unremarkable time, it says.

The warren in the hawthorn
is cut from ordinary missiles—

the body ferrying the body—
mindless, certain.

Then the iridescent wheel, the numerator,

the gang
of signs

splits the living—

self from state,

hen from flock.

A bomb is built.
The shush of hair,
cities empty.

This part is always missing.
Small bells,
black vowels.

Civilization flattened into
fat roils of thunderheads,
deserted gods with their
scythes and crowns of planets
twisted toward you, lions
and bolts of cloth,
nets of treetops
painted on the casket lid.

Letters cluster
and fossilize.

The dead come back
not for you,

for themselves,
to hear their own stories

for the first time.

I still don’t
get to know the world,


how it appears to me.

And I’m almost used up,

having poisoned
my own curing spring
by diving in.

I saw the unkilled
feel for each other in the fog.
Hand on hand.

I saw a new someone
reinvent the knife.

I saw uncounted bones
in the snow dunes.

The spiraled needles
of cryptomeria.

 A great hall ground down to it slabs, blushing,
no words.

Giant Loom

The bite of machine oil
on a new blade—

the specific
sun-in-feathers odor
of the small gold hen
from the black flock.

My grief had
improved my sense of smell.

One dose of smoke
from the far quarry.

I had to sit down.
Cold slips
of clover,
then red 
clay planes—

I wasn’t ready—
I had hardly
met myself—

the sky’s scent—
a clean

Written there in wisps,
the words
giant loom!

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Molly Brodak is the author of Bandit (Grove Atlantic, 2016) and A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry.