Stephen Pollock


I clasp the rope, and it supports my weight.
At once I feel relieved. From here,
the landscape stretches endlessly in all directions.
The cold wind, sweeping across miles of wet prairie,
pushes gently against my body. Slowly,
I begin to sway.
I am not frightened.

I see people far below, but I am invisible to them.
They look like ants frantically scurrying.
They would go insane if they stopped
and saw themselves from even the nearest star.

My arms are not tired anymore
and I am not sure how long I have been here.
The mist is bitter cold.
I turn my head downward and see my limbs
dangling grey at the wind’s pleasure,
muscles puffed and wrinkled like a drowned carcass.
My whole body is numb
and I realize that I am receding from its exterior

It is becoming hard to see.
A thick film coats my eyes
like mucilage.
Hands sealed, frozen to the fat bulges of the rope,
face the wind like an ancient sword,
metallic and infinite.

Darkness quickens.
I struggle by reflex,
a pithed frog’s absurd little panic.
Straightjacket of space and time,
night filling my mouth like cotton,
I scream without sound,
the cords in my throat
stretched tight as piano wire.

No pain as I
am drawn to the core
that last drop
of molten ore
burns white hot,
flickers, then flickers

∞ ∞ ∞

The wind knocks the body back and forth.
Its howl is the breath of the universe.
The body will return its chilled atoms slowly.
Under grey, ominous skies,
the body still clutches the rope
and swings
and swings.




Stephen Pollock received the Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize in his senior year at Amherst College.  His poem “Syringe” was shortlisted for the 2018 Live Canon International Poetry Prize, and his elegy “Leaves” was a semifinalist for the 2019 River Styx International Poetry Contest.  “Arachnidæa: Line Drawings” was awarded second place in the Poet’s Choice category of the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2020 competition.  Steve’s poems have appeared in Poeming Pigeon, Live Canon Anthology, Ink to Paper, Buddhist Poetry Review and Pinesong.