Okla Elliott

Possibility of Erasure | There Are Corpses Buried in Them
May 19, 2016 Elliott Okla

Possibility of Erasure


It is snowing this morning.
There are dry leaves on the ground
slowly turning white with the dry falling dust.
There is no sound, only distance—the world
is being erased like the gloomy memory
of a neighbor’s ex-husband’s brain cancer.
Further away in thought: tinkling scales
on a black piano no one will ever play again.
Yet further: the history of snow,
the metaphysics of cold.
Mere months ago,
there were flowers everywhere.
There were ancient children squealing
with idiotic ecstasy.




There Are Corpses Buried in Them


In their walls, cut in a frieze of desire
like the petrified flowers named in poems,
the lovers have gone mute with mutual hatred.

Their love has turned rotten and terrible.

At night they still crawl on each other,
cavorting insects,
their limbs deep-black and entangled
in the nightly bed.

They laugh in each other’s faces,
though nothing is funny anymore.

If rock could walk, they might free themselves,
but the walls we build are sturdy.

And as in ancient times,
there are corpses buried in them.

Okla Elliott is an Illinois Distinguished Fellow at the University of Illinois where he works in the fields of comparative literature and trauma studies. He also holds an MFA from Ohio State University. His nonfiction, poetry, short fiction, and translations have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, among others. His books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), and The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel co-authored with Raul Clement). His book of translation, Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker, is forthcoming in late 2015.