Eric Pankey

Melancholia & Trouble in Mind
June 20, 2019 Pankey Eric


On the periodic table, it is the densest of elements. It does not refract or reflect, but absorbs all light. On the tongue, it has no taste at all, although one recalls a bitter, acrid tinge. All day the rain falls in its room. All night the rain. Mold blackens the walls. Drops slip from the ceiling and, in a future not yet imaginable, stalactites and stalagmites begin to grow, barring the door, the windows. A poor cousin to gold and lead, it never quite sleeps, is never quite roused. It averts its eyes like a beggar. It broods on the dull edge of its brooding, on an arrival again postponed.




An overlay of shadows and shade. Crows in the winter corn. The goldenrod flame-like. The body of Jesus translated into the body of Christ. The lid of the Shaker box fits so snuggly that when it’s replaced, the air inside sighs. The net floats like a cloud, the skein’s interstices: bright points. A sea of negative space. She was a beautiful girl. From the depths of the pinewood, how does one imagine the idea of a clearing? Always a swarm of images at hand waiting to inhabit the framed mirror. By poverty, I meant the poverty of language. You thought it all so Romantic: the craggy knolls, the tumbledown shacks, and bosky hillsides. At the party, one entertains doubts.  Did you say a cursory personality or a personal curiosity? Did she ask how to avoid the void? In a single day: a retrospective of weathers. The hanged man afloat between two worlds. I have spent my life contemplating the play of light upon an interior: the complexity of perception, the perception of complexity. You watch a thought transmute into a thought of watching a thought. Tugged at, a circle expands to an ellipse. A marriage of dusk-light and pearl. A plate of cherries to feed those in a lifeboat. A thousand ooliths. She was a beautiful girl and, she said, that’s where her trouble started.


Eric Pankey is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently AUGURY (Milkweed Editions 2017). He has a book of poems, a book of prose poems, and a collection of essays all due out on 2019.