Studies in Technique



Remoteness is the founder of sweetness

                        -Emily Dickinson


            It is true that each self keeps a secret self which cannot speak when spoken to.

                        -Lucie Brock-Broido




In cold rooms the sun through windows—our nipples

Responding to that silk warmth—to move in

& out of light is how I wish to touch you—leaves,

Their shadows & how they fall to meet them—something

Tectonic in this: an erasure that keeps

Persisting until it’s the land that remains. You are

A mountain, the spine from which your body flows—

These the vistas we’ve described ourselves as being

Swept away from—a series of polished pebbles

Gravity strings in place of pearls at her neck—

Our collar bones precipitous—& all light

Travels across an object’s face—that action often

Described as breaking




Soon no animal will be

Metaphor for freedom or flight

From what pursues it because what pursues it

Will have swallowed death. I mothered

The San Andreas fault as a child. Wondered

If this was how mothers of serial killers felt?

The earth torn open (do we notice). Deciphering

The roots of perception beneath each lie—

Is it the flawed expectation that power should

Continue to be held in one set of hands or something

Closer to hope—the belief we don’t deserve be caught?




The full moon’s blank beauty

Satiates one hunger that drives me. A sickle,

Drawn like blood is drawn, irondown,

Fitful—hook in the mouth, fingernail imprinted in flesh, eye-

Lash drawn to adumbrated circumferences—whose

Reflection light never fills—




I placed a series of scales upon your skin. Dimpled

Leather in rows—crop raised

As you desired. My love,

Does the body fall any particular way

Or is narrative what the mind builds to navigate

What two people continue to seek within each other—


First fairness. Then justice—


Then something else entire—

Brett Shaw is a poet and educator living in Alabama. His work has received support from the Community of Writers, and appears or is forthcoming in Colorado ReviewSouthern Humanities ReviewPacifica Literary Reviewechoverse and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Alabama.