LOUIS ARMAND is a frequent contributor to Slope. His novel The Garden (Arc) was released this year. He is poetry editor of The Prague Review and Plastic/Semtext.

          for Peter Minter

like recurrence, the tidal marks of a sea
long extinct -
& bone-brittle, circumscribed from

"a nicotine yellow sky" - altitude
working its way back
into a deficit of antigens, foreign matter
spreading outwards

from quarantine, the double negative - mounting
to frame the percipient mind in omni-
present discursiveness - pain variable

& internally documented
evidence like
charred ground


unnoticed, they are still - no partings
whisper between them

an invasive blankness: chemically
pure - at least
it had this semblance -
the stories of all those lives, of

to recall only an image or an aura, is that
what we are here for?

the stomach contracts & ideally
approaches zero

a glass box, a vitrine - & inside: a body
as white as a blank page
about to document a transaction


a simple determination clarifies what is stated:
no, i can't remember what you look like
the directions, we never arrived
according to what was written down -
that voice again, interrupting
although they couldn't be sure it was the same one
"you" heard, so long ago, waiting at a taxi stand
an old umbrella flapping in the wind
but no rain, not yet, that
would have upset everything - grasping at straws
& finding nothing but the outer garments (when
did that happen?) - too many anniversaries
from one encounter to the next
already they're replacing us, sending us up
in a burlesque of
algebraic notation - a life of error
stretches out in opposite directions
(who ever imagined we would end up
groping through the limelight of consensus towards
less primitive convulsions?) - the dull
harmonious music drifts away
& like two intimate machines the hemispheres
subtract the gratuitous
from the necessary - though no sentiment intervenes
to disturb that sleep, even