Pamela Hart

Poet at the Mall & Neuromythology
January 23, 2022 Hart Pamela



Because language begins in body
even the Bardo can be heard
in the buzz of the merry-go-round
where there’s no truth
and the food court sings its daily requiem
As shoppers swing
in lines from representation
to abstraction and back
the mall threatens
a cubist picture
Blowup castle
The local band playing Journey
Inflatable tube man waving
Machine-made bubbles
shooting lux aeterna into air
(I like a good list)
But then someone wants ketchup
so I walk in a capillary
dream past the pink
cotton candy tower toward
the 10,000 thoughts looping the levels
Because thinking begins in pictures
the poet at the mall compares
an image of the mother
who said metaphors are streets
that can’t be measured
with the band running its riff
on Staying Alive and Freddie Mercury
Or is it two acres of rain forest
dying for lack of lacrimosa
as glaciers melt in Greenland
(Uncertain, sure.)
The poet’s brain is a lonely
instrument captive to bone
always on alert
in the quo Bardo
racing toward the automatic
door to catch bubbles clinging
save me save me
up and up before a boy
breaks them





In the beginning my brain bent
breath into the shape of the field
used axons that spread their arms
across the field’s cheek bone
& declared let the grasses
smile let stone become wall
& this was fine. My brain
shivered. It was good.
Naming came next. Frontal lobe
arachnoid, dura mater, with Louise
Bourgeois present
as the light & dark.
The second day. The brain wanted
more. Divide it said then
occupy so my brain
split itself into swamp
& sky, exploded a hill
which broke as rolling land
orange because color
the face of oak leaves
hydrangea’s hair thrown
wild blue into a backdrop
of shingle worn gray by salt air.
The second day ending on a high note.
On the third, my brain loved Saturn
& Neptune, also the Pleiades
pointillist pictures opening
onto windows of home.
Come the fourth & the brain
thought about frontal lobes
was nostalgic for the future
decided time was a stone.
But such quiet worried my brain.
Where were the chickadees, fox bark.
Let the waters teem with gastropods
with trout & right whales & glaucus atlanticus
fill the scapes with hawk wings
ongoing conversations.
Thus day five concluded
in devoted noise.
My brain was pleased & lonely
no one to debate backup
archetypes or the physics of an hour.
In this way it made a family
five people, most with blue
eyes, happy till they weren’t.
Here went the sixth day especially.
By the seventh it was all a bit much.
A proven greenhorn, my brain
looked at its handiwork
decided the world is a collection
of meetings & happenings
only to fall asleep dreaming
of milk weed assemblages.

PAMELA HART is author of the award-winning collection, MOTHERS OVER NANGARHAR, published in 2019 by Sarabande Books. She  is writer-in-residence at the Katonah Museum of Art where she manages and teaches an arts-in-education program as well as the museum’s prison arts initiative. She is a 2020 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) poetry fellow finalist. She received the Brian Turner Literary Arts Prize in poetry in 2016. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship as well as a fellowship from the SUNY Purchase College Writers Center. Toadlily Press published her chapbook, The End of the Body. She is a teaching artist in the schools and lives in North Salem, New York. She is poetry editor for Afghan Voices, the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and for As You Were: The Military Review.