An exquisite corpse is a parlor game for group writing. Invented by French surrealists, each participant writes a line of poetry in response to a line that came before. Before passing the “corpse” to the next person in line, the writer folds the paper so that only the newest line is visible. In this way, a poem is built. At the end of the game, the paper is unfurled, and the new work is revealed. This past August over an enormous plate of nachos, Katie and Anya wrote the following poems. With two papers passed back and forth, the poems were written simultaneously, each poet responsible for alternate lines, a lyrical do-si-do, a poetic kind of play.
In a ziploc bag behind his fishbowl
on top of a pile of housekeeping magazines
beneath a framed class photo, a dusty cobweb
frames the aquatic world of Leonardo.
The seahorse discards his pie pan halo and snorts
throwing the laundry around. What’s
a dirty sock compared to all the tent cities?
If he wants to shoot someone, he must invent
the weapon. And if he wants to conquer, he must
conjure more. So Leonardo studies day and night.
Cotton-brained, leering, famished, and laughing,
he imitates the posture of a pastry chef,
the dough flattens beneath the weight
of his uniform. Time to hire an intern.
Someone to yell at would be fine. Someone
organized, an eye for detail, who makes his own ink.
On the Elevator Between 4th and 5th Floors or Icarus Tries Again
When turtles pull back their heads, do their
brains compress? Do their dreams leak
or lock? No one ever craves a sack lunch.
Her socks crimp and crumple beneath schoolgirl knees
and she slouches like she’s been spooked.
Her plastic spork slips from her grip
and the world beyond her checked blanket
dissolves into a black puddle. A cat blinks.
The biscuits, damp, cannot be picked up
until after the barista consults with his
hose. Everything boils down to process.
He portions his day into teaspoons, TV shows,
balanced meals, drafts of the manifesto, several baths,
but still there are mornings he cannot
remember and still his gums bleed.
Anya Groner’s essays, stories and poems can be read in journals including Guernica, Ninth Letter, The Oxford American, The Rumpus, and The Atlantic. She received her MFA from the University of Mississippi where she was a John and Renee Grisham Fellow. Currently, she’s finishing a novel about teenage girls and eco-terrorism, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her first chapbook of poems, a collaborative project with the book artist Sara White, titled So Our Ghosts Can Find Us, will be released later this month. A resident of New Orleans, Groner teaches writing at Loyola University New Orleans. She edits fiction for Terrain.Org and book reviews for The New Orleans Review. You can view her website here.
Katharine Ogle is a poet. She studied English literature and was a member of the Area Program in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts with distinction. She attended the University of Washington for a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry and was the writer-in-residence at a local high school during that time. She currently teaches literature and creative writing in Seattle and is Associate Editor of Poetry Northwest. Her work has been published in Quarterly West, Pleiades, and Mare Nostrum, among others. Currently, she is at work on a manuscript of poems titled The Smallest Gun I Could Find, which follows a conversation between a speaker and her newly-discovered homunculus: the little man who lives inside her head, protesting her moment-to-moment decisions.