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Poetry by Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp

Emptiness Prayer for Agnes Martin

Strewn heat lingers
on the landscape, doing

and fills in
the gaps with less

and years and finally. In weeds,
a flirtation of wind;

slight shaking,
promise. Light vaults

again which is
consolation, desert-full

of its rows and spill.
She in her large

silent body disappears
into practice while
ravens circle

with longings. So impractical
how she writes

her furniture
with fingers, a pencil, pocking

a picture; she is living

in a dirt hut—
living on
the wall, a severance

of space. Sturdy,
rehearsed. The foreground

lucid and the entire
place is
what she can find, not an edge
but a whole

of margins.

Thought Disorder

Let’s admit he wanders and we’re back to the year before. No one
wants to make the call. We
take him to concrete. Take him and take him and leave

the room. And then a day in Miami and he said
a week in July. He’s not there. He’s excited. Dusk raises
its light. We like him. We wake up

to doses of side effects. Another chant of heat-tinted dust. Whole days
roll open. We pay
to burst spots on his scalp. Pray for the subject

to stretch and recover, and we return
to the original vicinity where a life
story is watching the water. No trace of anyone’s memory. Dusk

comes along twice. We step out. It’s guile and greeting
all night. He moved to Florida
for a few minutes. Yesterday he was having sex

in Hong Kong with a woman in shorts. The world was
surface and normal. Another way out. We have had 68 discussions, and need
to admit Florida is the only

horizon. There is no one
to call. In overlapping directions, we follow him and he repeats
when our mother was erased when he

was returning the plastic bidet, when the message arrived
in his absence. Yesterday we stepped out. There’s a chart
on the wall, there’s a palm tree at dinner and everyone

to ask. We like him, we pray, and we hover. We squirrel
his clothes that are falling
apart. We carry the experts and tell how our father is a house

and this is unbearable, the cost of the brain and months
with butter. Aren’t we foolish with sheets, our chapped lips, days crossing
to worse? Every day

he wears every hat, and then a day the air
drags over the summer. We like him. He wakes up. This year
began with each departure. Imagine a season and we’ll go on. By all means.


You may already know how to calm. It’s been two weeks
without negative

talk. Two weeks with no
terrible photographs, no spontaneous edge

of ocean or canyon or miles
of time. You went to the gate

when no one else would, when everyone
caught our collective

dilution. You woke up that morning after not
sleeping through any blue

flowers. You went in a dress
to be rescued from the roaring

story in your head and were given
a bed. Home is

as small as a few beating hearts
and both ends of the way I

live too, with the world
on its verge. You asked me once

how is everything in your perfect life
and true I walk through

the center whether or not it is brimming
with purity, but down

the hill, everyone is sewing up
limit so speech

is confusion. We are fewer. You are there now
to reason the way

you can breathe. Stay a while.
There, now. Everything has happened

and nothing may change.


This was first published in LEON Literary Review. 

Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The Los Angeles ReviewPleiades, Poet Lore, Slice, DIAGRAM and other journals. Winner of the Dorset Prize, Lauren has also received fellowships from The Black Earth Institute and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award.