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Red Holes Everywhere


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RED HOLES EVERYWHERE By DAWN ALEXIS CHARTSCHLAA A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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Copyright 2005 by Dawn Alexis Chartschlaa

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For Rosie

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to thank the University of Florida and the Creative Writing Program for their financial support. I would like to specifically thank William Logan, who served as my thesis director and literary goad, for his generosity with time and advice. I also want to thank Debora Greger and Sidney Wade for serving on my committee and for their helpful insights and encouragement throughout my time in the Creative Writing Program.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii DAYBREAK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 DO NOT WISH YOU WERE BORN A BATHTUB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 WHERE TO FIND A WARLORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 ON WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 SCIENCE OF SIGHT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 WRITTEN, BUT NOT ON PAPER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 NOT A CLASSROOM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 A PRAYER TO THE DYING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 ALL FALL DOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 ATTEMPTS AT ADORATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 CRASH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 DREAM OF THE MOTHER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 MAN WITH A SCALP OF FLAME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 FACE OF MY CAT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 THE MOUNTAIN MAKES A REQUEST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 TO DEATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 DESCENT, MEANT LITERALLY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

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vi SHIP ON ICE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 KENNEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 ANDROMEDA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 EZEKIEL DIDN'T SEE THE WHEEL BECAUSE HE WASN'T LOOKING . . . . . . . 21 SHE WEARS HER HAIR OVER HER EYES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 TO THE LONG LINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 TRAUMA STUDIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 ESTELLA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 FIRST DUSK, BLACK HAMMOCK ISLAND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

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vii Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts RED HOLES EVERYWHERE By Dawn Alexis Chartschlaa May 2005 Chair: William Logan Major Department: English This thesis contains twenty-seven free-form poems. These poems are packed with images because I dream in color. They touch upon death, vertigo and cats. Many of these poems have their mouths stuffed with cotton: they say what they mean, but it comes out muffled. The reader will have to put his ear to them. He may or may not hear the hordes approaching.

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1 DAYBREAK Gorge yourself on light. This is the wind in the pines, the hawk in the blue. Or this is your dream. Later you will wake. It will be dark and close. Morning, veiled in clouds, will tap on your window. Come she will murmur. We must go away for a while.

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2 DO NOT WISH YOU WERE BORN A BATHTUB Each is a ships hold. It slopes down like the curve of a mothers belly. You wish to drain away. The curtain is not long enough to wrap around your neck-for a scarf, of course. Have you always worn this flesh? If you cannot shed it easily, shear it off like wool. The world burns while I wash, but when I emerge shivering, there is no smoke, no glow.

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3 WHERE TO FIND A WARLORD She dreamt of samurai thronging about her, their lion masks shaking as they crossed swords in the heat of the day. Whenever she focused on a single blade, it soared up like a tree trunk, ten feet or taller, blood-capped and glistening. She lay at their boots, still in her nightgown, trembling in the dirt. If they saw her, they gave no sign. They crossed their weapons again and again in elaborate ritual that became more like a dance than a fight. Finally they cast aside their swords and formed a circle around her, whirling until she could no longer distinguish between masks: all joined in a single leering face. She began to levitate, her body rising delicately at first, then rushing upward while the sea roared in her ears. She struggled to stand, but her limbs were lead. When at last she lifted her foot, she found herself alone in the dark.

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4 ON WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT No one knows where to begin. With I, perhaps? I have seen the sun rise like an egg cracked on the horizon. Also, I climbed a sycamore, like Zacchaeus, only I asked for nothing. Instead, I hooked my legs over the topmost branch and hung limply, arms banging against each other like clappers of a wind chime. Finally, I have slept, no door to my bedroom, only a gap in the walls like those you see in Gaza. Can I state any of this personally?

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5 SCIENCE OF SIGHT To know the Lord, press upon your eyeballs. If you see a checkerboard, he loves you; black and white zigzags, and you will die. Newton pressed upon his eyeballs until he nearly went blind. He shut himself up in the dark; for three days the devil tempted him, but like Jesus he held out. When he emerged, his eyes were big as lanterns. He seized the nearest bodkin and stabbed it into his eye socket, levering it gently upward. Lightning sparked from the metal. Shadow puppets separated from his retina and swayed against the red. Newton gasped and fell to the ground. Metal into flesh: this is the way of the Lord. Do not be afraid to bleed from the eyes.

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6 WRITTEN, BUT NOT ON PAPER Every boomerang skims back to the hand from which it leaps--how do you fly? I leap where I please. Pupils fall at my feet like trees; what log are you? I do not fall at your feet. You press a womans hand in the dark and think she dreams of you? I dream only of glass. You have the horses eye--his slit, his lash-but can you gallop? I canter at dawn. This book is but leaves--what wind would breathe upon it? I am that wind.

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7 NOT A CLASSROOM I remember what I read. I can still taste the salt of chapters in the desert. No water, but shards: my hands and lips like pottery. Someone has draped oilcloth over the sky. Stars and trees have disappeared. I find myself travelling alone over blacktop. In the distance, a light appears: surely a book, but when I draw closer, I see it is only a shadow. I have lost my way. These words are but embers.

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8 A PRAYER TO THE DYING No ancient, I run through the grass each dawn and hope for change that never comes, a rising up that will last (this time) forever. You will not answer me. You shut yourself up in your sky, Eternal Blue Jack-in-the-Box whose springing forth we all await. Arise and suck out my soul, O Lord. I have no need of it, for you have dictated it shall be scarlet, spread out for the crows. Devour my enemies, for you shall slurp your own scaly tail. Who will save the Savior? He preys upon his own. Do not look down upon me, O Creator. You think you made me, but look at these wrists. From them a new light emerges.

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9 ALL FALL DOWN It is my duty to rise. For me, clouds exist only to be pierced. You pace my floors, ignore the groan of my underpinnings. I would break glass if I didnt know youd play deaf to the shatter. So here I am, your effigy. You built me up and lit me like a stove. Why wonder that I claim you as my suicides? I will shed you from my windows like tears.

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10 ATTEMPTS AT ADORATION Your mouth is a house in which I see myself standing at the cupola window, tracing the rain as it slides down the glass. I hear a chorus of monkeys. Who set them loose in your bed to scamper about ankles and earlobes? Your eye is a warrior. I will slip past it and rescue you, but there is no princess. Instead I open a door and plunge straight into morning.

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11 CRASH Headlights blaze upon us and we dont hear the horn until weve already flipped. The car spins on its roof like a penny. When its over, I am slumped against the wheel, face burned, but alive and securely fastened. Of course we didnt get into a wreck. We werent rammed by a pick-up and never skidded into the guardrail. I picture it all the same. It was nightfall in North Carolina as we stood beneath neon, the gas station attendant nowhere. Ill just sit in the back, you said, but I would have none of it. Im not your chauffeur, I said. So you sat unguarded in front, broken belt dangling by your side. Later, I imagine you shooting into the night, a meteor, the glass your glittering trail.

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12 DREAM OF THE MOTHER Last night she walked a wood, but left no imprint upon the sand. Pines stood watch beneath the harvest moon. Children hid in this scrub. She must root them out and secure them in caves, roll stones before their openings. Later she would return to close their eyes. An owl took flight from a branch beside her. One of the children gasped in the underbrush. I can save you, she struggled to say, but the words remained bound inside her. The childs footsteps were swallowed up by the swish of palmettos. One had already escaped her, and the others would be just as wary. If she did not find them soon, they would all be gone. The path sloped downward and she stood at the black waters edge. She crossed over and found herself in a meadow. Suddenly she rose up from the field and saw all of it spread out before her. The meadow went on without end: nothing rustled in the grass.

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13 MAN WITH A SCALP OF FLAME The iron collar at his neck keeps him still. Without it, he might scorch his mottled torso or wine-stained arms. Is he dead? Are those his real eyes or white buttons? His ears have melted, but gold hoops remain. He doesnt know how long his head has been on fire. I am awake, he says. I burn.

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14 FACE OF MY CAT You figure in my dreams more than my lover. Once you were a mammoth tomcat in tree-tall grass, once a knife-finned goldfish slicing through the Atlantic. You may be five identical black cats joined at the tail. Last night I dreamed you were a kitten the size of a mouse. When I tried to bathe you, you died, so I stuck you in a syringe and squeezed the water out. Once you nearly killed me. I sat in a bar knocking back tequila with you in my lap. A voice intoned from above, This is titled Eighth Life. You nodded toward a door covered by cobwebs. I opened it. I dream in color, because beyond was black-and-white. Houses were on fire, and bodies lay broken in the street. I heard shouts in the distance, so I grabbed a boys head and put it over my own. A gang of men ran by with blades. They didnt recognize me, so they took you instead. It was the future. Why sleep on my pillow? Why wake me with your banshee-wail?

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15 THE MOUNTAIN MAKES A REQUEST Once I sat bare beneath the sun. At night the moon rose like a wafer. Now I cannot see for the glare sent up by your lights. I long for the hawk to spiral overhead. I miss exposing my cliffs to the sky, bone to the great blue jackal. Only a sacrifice will do. Bring me your innocent, your victims. Let them atone for your gouges. Gently, gently, my children: do not tumble them over like logs. They are flowers to be tossed over my brim-I will receive them now.

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16 TO DEATH I do not want to stumble as I walk, to bleat the old craving: Mother. Father. Neither do I want eternity with its rustle of my own wings and glaring clockwork of radiance spun out before me. (O Endless Vertigo, let this cup pass from me. Give it unto them that bleed for gaping want of it.)

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17 DESCENT, MEANT LITERALLY They descend in pairs, more like churchgoers than steps. Beware the pillar of salt. The railroad tie looks like a torso. We could dip our hands in it. Water everywhere, like Canaan. I am the vine and you are the serpent. Together we rain. We could pitch a tent and dance with scarves, but I already know you wont. The trees know, too. They reach down, but I will have none of their branches. Red holes everywhere: we are surrounded by throats.

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18 SHIP ON ICE She sits neatly halved like turkey breast atop the freezer cubes. Why are you here? She does not answer at first. But then: The water is gone, she says. I do not keep water in my freezer; only cherries and the occasional orchid. Youll learn to live without it The ship is silent. I think she is dying. She should be in a bottle on my neighbors mantle or skimming a jewel-toned sea. I take her out and glue her hull together. Moisture trickles down her sides. Together we walk to the gully; I set her beside a startled drake. As soon as the water touches her planks, she melts to a widening ripple.

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19 KENNEL The doghouses are barren temples. Their runs are empty, their boneyards bare. These chains lie open, fetter nothing.

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20 ANDROMEDA Lady, why do you sprawl? Your legs open, your body open: this is not the way beauty reclines upon her couch. No couch, but a stone? It may make a difference. Tell that to the gull wheeling overhead. If a storm crosses the horizon, you have not brought it upon yourself, but neither can the clouds hold you blameless. Expect the rain to pelt you and the winds to reach into your secret parts. You have no secrets. Do you have children? If they cry, their tears will not go unheard, but you are forbidden to think of them. Open your mouth like a flower and swallow the heavens sweat. You are no longer woman: you are plant, legend, albatross. I am not your god, Wrongdoer, nor your defender. I rise daily, but not like a meteor or the burgeoning sun.

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21 EZEKIEL DIDNT SEE THE WHEEL BECAUSE HE WASNT LOOKING Finally the Lord exerted a holy force and pulled Ezekiels beard heavenward. Ezekiels eyes followed his beard (he tried to pull it back down) and intersected with the wheel. He stared at it mesmerized, and even when he looked away it still burned before him. After that, Ezekiel could not be silenced. He had seen what he was to prophesy, and wandered the streets shrieking it. Look up! he cried to us, Look up and behold the Lords wheel! Later when we crucified him, Ezekiel kept his eyes steadfast on the wheel, but its light did not swallow him.

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22 SHE WEARS HER HAIR OVER HER EYES like a curtain no one peers out from behind. The shapes walking about her seem unfinished: eyes too small, lips not full. What if she fell asleep with an outline beside her and it was gone when she woke? No sphere rests on her other pillow, but always, when she rolls over, shes a little surprised to find out.

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23 TO THE LONG LINE I will raise you like Moses staff. Part the waters or spread your cobras hood. Either way, come home with me for nachos. We can watch reality television together. When you fall asleep during a Subaru commercial, I will sneak into the bedroom and begin typing furiously as if the hounds of Cerberus bay at my back. Without you, I would not have space for the hounds of Cerberus. I would write about ice, watermelon, or the occasional coffee shop. Now I can write a dramatic monologue in three pantoum-like choruses. It will chill critics to the bone. You wake up with a snort. You call for me and I do not answer. You fumble with three remotes until you find the right one. You come looking in my room. A corner of your mouth twitches as you peer over my shoulder. What? I say. Not good enough? You pick up a book, flip through. Its fine, you say. I slam the laptop shut and pull the book from your hands. Look at me, I say. Since you know so much, tell me how youd do it differently. I feel like Sisyphus, but you laugh and put your feet up on the bureau. You tell me what I always dream but never remember. I stand on a hill with you wrapped around me like a boa. You look like water. Later, you become an old woman too heavy for me to carry. You shake your fist in my face and shriek. I notice you have no mouth, no eyes, and no existence. I am alone and flying over an ocean at midnight. Youre a liar, I say, trying not to tremble. And then you leave, of course. I close my eyes and see you everywhere, my sun and my alphabet.

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24 TRAUMA STUDIES I pore over these books like an apprentice monk. What virtue can there be in the woman with the sack over her face, the burlap pulled tightly as gauze? It cannot mask the gas. From twelve until fourteen, a Jewish girl buried herself in leaves in a pit outside Auschwitz. Did her limbs twist and double back like those of the Chinese children raised in barrels, the better to rise as contortionists? I am not Jewish and was not buried, but I also display my jaw like a trophy.

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25 THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS The paths had multiplied, bred like snakes. He bowed his head, then straightened, eyes shining. A glimmer emerged from his pocket, went to his throat and bit into it. Ecstatic, he flung back his head. His legs crumpled beneath him like pillars of sand.

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26 ESTELLA What do you want from me? Ruins to clasp the sunset now stumbling on heron-legs shoreward? Let us gut the garden and strip it of sorrows: let us be grown-ups. We make our own tales now. I am the thrush beating against the roof of your mouth. This is the soul of me, rising up from your hunger. I am not the Ariel you summoned; I am not the archangel. Lie back and let me etch your leaves with my tongue like acid.

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27 FIRST DUSK, BLACK HAMMOCK ISLAND Gray shingle. Water like an eye, blue-hooded. Waves approach, their lather tinted coral. Shells crawl out. As the sun wilts, bird song turns red. The owl stirs. I am only a fleck among many, my ocean: wash me away.

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28 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Dawn Chartschlaa entered the University of Florida at sixteen. After a brief flirtation with the notion of becoming a newspaper reporter, she realized that since she did not like to talk to strange people, it was probably not the best career choice for her. She made the switch to advertising and earned her B.S. in that field in 2003, with a minor in English. Although she had a good job writing copy, she felt the advertising world was annihilating her soul, so she entered the UF creative writing program to concentrate on her poetry writing. She has been writing poetry since she was six, and she is not going to stop now. She would like to publish her work eventually, but has not done so yet. She plans to get her Ph.D. in English, but not in Gainesville.


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0010407/00001

Material Information

Title: Red Holes Everywhere
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0010407:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0010407/00001

Material Information

Title: Red Holes Everywhere
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0010407:00001


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RED HOLES EVERYWHERE


By

DAWN ALEXIS CHARTSCHLAA



















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF FINE ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Dawn Alexis Chartschlaa



































For Rosie















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to thank the University of Florida and the Creative Writing Program for their

financial support. I would like to specifically thank William Logan, who served as my

thesis director and literary goad, for his generosity with time and advice. I also want to

thank Debora Greger and Sidney Wade for serving on my committee and for their helpful

insights and encouragement throughout my time in the Creative Writing Program.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L ED G M EN T S .................................. ............. ..........................................iv

AB STRA CT ................ .................................... ............. .............. vii

D A Y B R EA K ............... ........ ... .. ........... ........ ........ ........................

DO NOT WISH YOU WERE BORN A BATHTUB.........................2

W H ERE TO FIN D A W ARLORD ...................................................................... ...... 3

ON WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT........................ ................4

SC IE N C E O F SIG H T ............................................................................... 5

W RITTEN BU T N OT ON PAPER ..........................................................................6

N O T A C L A SSR O O M ............................................................................... ........ 7

A PRAYER TO THE DYING .......................................................... ............ 8

A LL FA LL D OW N .......................................................................................... ... ....... 9

ATTEM PTS AT ADORATION .......................................................... .............. 10

C R A S H ............................................................................................ 1 1

D REAM OF TH E M O TH ER ........................................................................ ........ 12

MAN WITH A SCALP OF FLAME ........................................................................ 13

FA CE O F M Y CA T ................................................................................................ 14

THE MOUNTAIN MAKES A REQUEST ........................ .............. 15

TO DEATH........................................................... 16

DESCENT, MEANT LITERALLY............................ ......... ..... 17




v7









S H IP O N IC E ................ ............................................................................................... 1 8

K E N N E L ................................... .................................................................. 1 9

A N D R O M ED A ..................................................... 20

EZEKIEL DIDN'T SEE THE WHEEL BECAUSE HE WASN'T LOOKING ............21

SHE WEARS HER HAIR OVER HER EYES .............................................................22

T O T H E L O N G L IN E .................................................................................... .............. 2 3

TR A U M A STU D IE S ........................................................................... ........................... 24

THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS .............. ........................ ............. 25

E S T E L L A ..........................26......... ........................

FIRST DUSK, BLACK HAMMOCK ISLAND ....................... ...............27

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ............................................................ ......... .............. 28















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts

RED HOLES EVERYWHERE

By

Dawn Alexis Chartschlaa

May 2005

Chair: William Logan
Major Department: English

This thesis contains twenty-seven free-form poems. These poems are packed with

images because I dream in color. They touch upon death, vertigo and cats. Many of these

poems have their mouths stuffed with cotton: they say what they mean, but it comes out

muffled. The reader will have to put his ear to them. He may or may not hear the hordes

approaching.















DAYBREAK


Gorge yourself on light.
This is the wind in the pines,
the hawk in the blue.

Or this is your dream.
Later you will wake.
It will be dark and close.

Morning, veiled in clouds,
will tap on your window.
Come, she will murmur.

We must go away for a while.















DO NOT WISH YOU WERE BORN A BATHTUB


Each is a ship's hold.
It slopes down like the curve of a mother's belly.
You wish to drain away.

The curtain is not long enough
to wrap around your neck--
for a scarf, of course.

Have you always worn this flesh?
If you cannot shed it easily,
shear it off like wool.

The world burns while I wash,
but when I emerge shivering,
there is no smoke, no glow.















WHERE TO FIND A WARLORD

She dreamt of samurai thronging about her, their lion masks shaking
as they crossed swords in the heat of the day.

Whenever she focused on a single blade, it soared up like a tree trunk,
ten feet or taller, blood-capped and glistening.

She lay at their boots, still in her nightgown, trembling in the dirt.
If they saw her, they gave no sign.

They crossed their weapons again and again in elaborate ritual
that became more like a dance than a fight.

Finally they cast aside their swords and formed a circle around her,
whirling until she could no longer distinguish between masks:

all joined in a single leering face. She began to levitate,
her body rising delicately at first,

then rushing upward while the sea roared in her ears.
She struggled to stand, but her limbs were lead.

When at last she lifted her foot, she found herself alone in the dark.















ON WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT


No one knows where to begin.
With "I," perhaps?

I have seen the sun rise
like an egg cracked on the horizon.

Also, I climbed a sycamore,
like Zacchaeus, only I asked for nothing.
Instead, I hooked my legs over the topmost branch
and hung limply,
arms banging against each other
like clappers of a wind chime.

Finally, I have slept,
no door to my bedroom,
only a gap in the walls
like those you see in Gaza.

Can I state any of this personally?















SCIENCE OF SIGHT


To know the Lord, press upon your eyeballs.
If you see a checkerboard, he loves you;
black and white zigzags, and you will die.

Newton pressed upon his eyeballs
until he nearly went blind.
He shut himself up in the dark;
for three days the devil tempted him,
but like Jesus he held out.

When he emerged, his eyes were big as lanterns.
He seized the nearest bodkin
and stabbed it into his eye socket,
levering it gently upward.

Lightning sparked from the metal.
Shadow puppets separated from his retina
and swayed against the red.
Newton gasped and fell to the ground.

Metal into flesh: this is the way of the Lord.
Do not be afraid to bleed from the eyes.















WRITTEN, BUT NOT ON PAPER


Every boomerang skims back to the hand
from which it leaps--how do you fly?

I leap where Iplease.


Pupils fall at my feet like trees;
what log are you?

I do not fall at yourfeet.


You press a woman's hand in the dark
and think she dreams of you?

I dream only of glass.


You have the horse's eye--his slit, his lash--
but can you gallop?

I canter at dawn.


This book is but leaves--what wind
would breathe upon it?

I am that wind.















NOT A CLASSROOM


I remember what I read. I can still taste the salt
of chapters in the desert. No water,
but shards: my hands and lips like pottery.

Someone has draped oilcloth over the sky.
Stars and trees have disappeared.
I find myself travelling alone over blacktop.

In the distance, a light appears: surely a book,
but when I draw closer, I see it is only a shadow.
I have lost my way. These words are but embers.















A PRAYER TO THE DYING


No ancient, I run through the grass each dawn
and hope for change that never comes,
a rising up that will last (this time) forever.

You will not answer me.
You shut yourself up in your sky,
Eternal Blue Jack-in-the-Box
whose springing forth we all await.

Arise and suck out my soul, O Lord.
I have no need of it,
for you have dictated it shall be scarlet,
spread out for the crows.

Devour my enemies,
for you shall slurp your own scaly tail.
Who will save the Savior? He preys upon his own.

Do not look down upon me, O Creator.
You think you made me, but look at these wrists.
From them a new light emerges.















ALL FALL DOWN


It is my duty to rise.
For me, clouds exist only to be pierced.
You pace my floors,
ignore the groan of my underpinnings.
I would break glass if I didn't know
you'd play deaf to the shatter.
So here I am, your effigy.
You built me up and lit me like a stove.
Why wonder that I claim you as my suicides?
I will shed you from my windows like tears.















ATTEMPTS AT ADORATION


Your mouth is a house
in which I see myself standing at the cupola window,
tracing the rain as it slides down the glass.

I hear a chorus of monkeys.
Who set them loose in your bed
to scamper about ankles and earlobes?

Your eye is a warrior.
I will slip past it and rescue you,

but there is no princess.
Instead I open a door and plunge
straight into morning.















CRASH


Headlights blaze upon us and we don't hear the horn until we've already flipped.
The car spins on its roof like a penny.
When it's over, I am slumped against the wheel, face burned,
but alive and securely fastened.

Of course we didn't get into a wreck.
We weren't rammed by a pick-up and never skidded into the guardrail.
I picture it all the same.

It was nightfall in North Carolina as we stood beneath neon,
the gas station attendant nowhere.
I'll just sit in the back, you said, but I would have none of it.
I'm not your chauffeur, I said.

So you sat unguarded in front, broken belt dangling by your side.
Later, I imagine you shooting into the night, a meteor,
the glass your glittering trail.















DREAM OF THE MOTHER


Last night she walked a wood,
but left no imprint upon the sand.
Pines stood watch
beneath the harvest moon.

Children hid in this scrub. She must root them out
and secure them in caves,
roll stones before their openings.
Later she would return to close their eyes.

An owl took flight from a branch beside her.
One of the children gasped in the underbrush.
I can save you, she struggled to say,
but the words remained bound inside her.
The child's footsteps were swallowed up
by the swish of palmettos.

One had already escaped her,
and the others would be just as wary.
If she did not find them soon,
they would all be gone.

The path sloped downward
and she stood at the black water's edge.
She crossed over
and found herself in a meadow.

Suddenly she rose up from the field
and saw all of it spread out before her.
The meadow went on without end:
nothing rustled in the grass.















MAN WITH A SCALP OF FLAME


The iron collar at his neck keeps him still.
Without it, he might scorch his mottled torso
or wine-stained arms.

Is he dead? Are those his real eyes or white buttons?
His ears have melted, but gold hoops remain.
He doesn't know how long his head has been on fire.

I am awake, he says. I burn.















FACE OF MY CAT


You figure in my dreams more than my lover.
Once you were a mammoth tomcat in tree-tall grass,
once a knife-finned goldfish slicing through the Atlantic.
You may be five identical black cats joined at the tail.


Last night I dreamed you were a kitten the size of a mouse.
When I tried to bathe you, you died,
so I stuck you in a syringe and squeezed the water out.

Once you nearly killed me.
I sat in a bar knocking back tequila with you in my lap.
A voice intoned from above, This is titled "Eighth Life."
You nodded toward a door covered by cobwebs.

I opened it.
I dream in color, because beyond was black-and-white.
Houses were on fire, and bodies lay broken in the street.

I heard shouts in the distance, so I grabbed a boy's head
and put it over my own. A gang of men ran by with blades.
They didn't recognize me, so they took you instead.
It was the future.

Why sleep on my pillow?
Why wake me with your banshee-wail?















THE MOUNTAIN MAKES A REQUEST


Once I sat bare beneath the sun.
At night the moon rose like a wafer.
Now I cannot see for the glare
sent up by your lights.

I long for the hawk to spiral overhead.
I miss exposing my cliffs to the sky,
bone to the great blue jackal.

Only a sacrifice will do.
Bring me your innocent, your victims.
Let them atone for your gouges.

Gently, gently, my children:
do not tumble them over like logs.
They are flowers to be tossed over my brim--
I will receive them now.















TO DEATH


I do not want
to stumble as I walk,
to bleat the old craving:
Mother. Father.

Neither do I want eternity
with its rustle of my own wings
and glaring clockwork of radiance
spun out before me.

(0 Endless Vertigo,
let this cup pass from me.
Give it unto them that bleed
for gaping want of it.)















DESCENT, MEANT LITERALLY

They descend in pairs, more like churchgoers than steps.
Beware the pillar of salt.

The railroad tie looks like a torso. We could dip our hands in it.
Water everywhere, like Canaan.

I am the vine and you are the serpent.
Together we rain.

We could pitch a tent and dance with scarves,
but I already know you won't.

The trees know, too. They reach down,
but I will have none of their branches.

Red holes everywhere: we are surrounded by throats.















SHIP ON ICE


She sits neatly halved like turkey breast
atop the freezer cubes.

Why are you here?

She does not answer at first. But then:
"The water is gone," she says.

I do not keep water in my freezer;
only cherries and the occasional orchid.

You 'II learn to live i iith,,,t it.

The ship is silent. I think she is dying.
She should be in a bottle on my neighbor's mantle
or skimming ajewel-toned sea.

I take her out and glue her hull together.
Moisture trickles down her sides.

Together we walk to the gully;
I set her beside a startled drake.
As soon as the water touches her planks,
she melts to a widening ripple.















KENNEL


The doghouses
are barren temples.

Their runs are empty,
their boneyards bare.

These chains lie open,
fetter nothing.















ANDROMEDA

Lady, why do you sprawl? Your legs open, your body open:
this is not the way beauty reclines upon her couch.

No couch, but a stone? It may make a difference.
Tell that to the gull wheeling overhead.

If a storm crosses the horizon, you have not brought it upon yourself,
but neither can the clouds hold you blameless.

Expect the rain to pelt you and the winds to reach into your secret parts.
You have no secrets.

Do you have children? If they cry, their tears will not go unheard,
but you are forbidden to think of them.

Open your mouth like a flower and swallow the heaven's sweat.
You are no longer woman: you are plant, legend, albatross.

I am not your god, Wrongdoer, nor your defender. I rise daily,
but not like a meteor or the burgeoning sun.















EZEKIEL DIDN'T SEE THE WHEEL BECAUSE HE WASN'T LOOKING


Finally the Lord exerted a holy force
and pulled Ezekiel's beard heavenward.
Ezekiel's eyes followed his beard
(he tried to pull it back down)
and intersected with the wheel.

He stared at it mesmerized,
and even when he looked away
it still burned before him.

After that, Ezekiel could not be silenced.
He had seen what he was to prophesy,
and wandered the streets shrieking it.
"Look up!" he cried to us,
"Look up and behold the Lord's wheel!"

Later when we crucified him,
Ezekiel kept his eyes steadfast on the wheel,
but its light did not swallow him.















SHE WEARS HER HAIR OVER HER EYES


like a curtain no one peers out from behind.
The shapes walking about her
seem unfinished: eyes too small, lips not full.
What if she fell asleep with an outline beside her
and it was gone when she woke?
No sphere rests on her other pillow,
but always, when she rolls over,
she's a little surprised to find out.















TO THE LONG LINE

I will raise you like Moses' staff. Part the waters or spread your cobra's hood.
Either way, come home with me for nachos. We can watch reality television together.

When you fall asleep during a Subaru commercial, I will sneak into the bedroom
and begin typing furiously as if the hounds of Cerberus bay at my back.

Without you, I would not have space for the hounds of Cerberus.
I would write about ice, watermelon, or the occasional coffee shop.

Now I can write a dramatic monologue in three pantoum-like choruses.
It will chill critics to the bone. You wake up with a snort.

You call for me and I do not answer. You fumble with three remotes
until you find the right one. You come looking in my room.

A corer of your mouth twitches as you peer over my shoulder. What? I say.
Not good enough? You pick up a book, flip through. It'sfine, you say.

I slam the laptop shut and pull the book from your hands. Look at me, I say.
Since you know so much, tell me how you'd do it differently.

I feel like Sisyphus, but you laugh and put your feet up on the bureau.
You tell me what I always dream but never remember.

I stand on a hill with you wrapped around me like a boa. You look like water.
Later, you become an old woman too heavy for me to carry.

You shake your fist in my face and shriek. I notice you have no mouth, no eyes,
and no existence. I am alone and flying over an ocean at midnight.

You're a liar, I say, trying not to tremble. And then you leave, of course.
I close my eyes and see you everywhere, my sun and my alphabet.















TRAUMA STUDIES


I pore over these books like an apprentice monk.

What virtue can there be in the woman
with the sack over her face,
the burlap pulled tightly as gauze?
It cannot mask the gas.

From twelve until fourteen,
a Jewish girl buried herself in leaves
in a pit outside Auschwitz.
Did her limbs twist and double back
like those of the Chinese children raised in barrels,
the better to rise as contortionists?

I am not Jewish and was not buried,
but I also display my jaw like a trophy.















THE GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS

The paths had multiplied,
bred like snakes.
He bowed his head,

then straightened, eyes shining.
A glimmer emerged from his pocket,
went to his throat and bit into it.

Ecstatic, he flung back his head.
His legs crumpled beneath him like pillars of sand.















ESTELLA

What do you want from me? Ruins to clasp the sunset
now stumbling on heron-legs shoreward?

Let us gut the garden and strip it of sorrows: let us be grown-ups.
We make our own tales now.

I am the thrush beating against the roof of your mouth.
This is the soul of me, rising up from your hunger.

I am not the Ariel you summoned; I am not the archangel.
Lie back and let me etch your leaves with my tongue like acid.















FIRST DUSK, BLACK HAMMOCK ISLAND


Gray shingle.
Water like an eye,
blue-hooded.

Waves approach,
their lather tinted coral.
Shells crawl out.

As the sun wilts,
bird song turns red.
The owl stirs.

I am only a fleck
among many, my ocean:
wash me away.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Dawn Chartschlaa entered the University of Florida at sixteen. After a brief

flirtation with the notion of becoming a newspaper reporter, she realized that since she

did not like to talk to strange people, it was probably not the best career choice for her.

She made the switch to advertising and earned her B.S. in that field in 2003, with a minor

in English. Although she had a good job writing copy, she felt the advertising world was

annihilating her soul, so she entered the UF creative writing program to concentrate on

her poetry writing. She has been writing poetry since she was six, and she is not going to

stop now. She would like to publish her work eventually, but has not done so yet. She

plans to get her Ph.D. in English, but not in Gainesville.