Feature: Four Poems by Leah Dawson and Five Works by Clare Koury

Curated by CC Calloway

Clare Koury, Untitled, Cast soap, photograph, 2019

 

 

Leah Dawson

 

 

Last Call

 

I prayed as I do every night by yoking 
flame to spliff against a bathtub
claw. Lord oh 
Lord please let my brain dry 
out. Smooth as silk against my ear
drums, which aren’t sharp 
in the bath. I submerge the pinna, stirrup, clog 
the anvil & auditory canals until I hear my own 
rhythm, my freaked heart 
my freaked-ass heart thumping only 
as the ocean, as an accordion played on open air. 
I find myself on the way back
on the way back I find myself.
My hideous loins, unkempt unclaimed,
cadence like a half-drained battery.
The joke goes, How do you want to die?
I’ll choose the bath, the silk pulled tight 
across my eyes mm that good/
good mm that bliss/bliss. Sweet hot 
nescience. Is this the point of sheep’s wool, 
Lord? At Thunderbird one time behind 
that one tree limned with daymoon I saw
a man gift his son hot chocolate and say, 
This is for praying for 
your nana.
The only way I want to die is before
everyone I love. Since that has not 
worked out I guess I’ll pray, 
lighting the spliff, smoothing the silk
and clenching 
my desires
for a short amount of time.

 

 

 

 

Clare Koury, Time Capsule (Long Time), PVC tubing, steel, assorted objects* in saltwater *aspartame, ball chain, bandage strips, beaded bracelet, birthday candles, bobby pins, burn cream, canola oil, CD-ROM [unlabeled storage disc], chamomile, cock rings, cocktail umbrella, coiled phone cord, coins, coral, drying lotion, Earl Grey tea, embroidered fabric panel, fake cobwebs, feathers, flowers, foam scraps, garden netting, Girl Scout patches, glue sticks, grape stems, hair net, human hair, incense stick [Rose Seduction], Ibuprofen, jar lid, jerkbait lure, keychain, keys, lace trim, latex gloves, lighter, magnets, matches, medicine spoon, message in a bottle, miscellaneous hardware, modeling dough, moss, mouthguard, nylon tights, orange extract, palo santo, parking ticket, pencil sharpener, pencils, photographs, plastic rope, PVC straps, Q-Tips, receipts, rhinestones, rolling papers, rubber elastics, seashells, shelf liner, silica gel desiccant packet, silicone lip mask, silk flowers, slime, solder rod, steel wool, synthetic hair, twist ties, USB drive [at full capacity], vibrating bullet, vinyl gloves, votive candles, whipcord, wool roving, Xanax, x-ray projector slide, yard stake, yolk separator, zen garden sand, zip ties 55 ft long 2019

 

 

 

December

 

You ask about language and I 
have talked about the untamable
shape of words so many times but
this time I just make circles
around the kitchen table 
like an uroboric dumb-dumb.
In 1908 if a woman laughed loud
ly in public they would limb 
her into a box 
folding the elbows 
and small 
tucks of thigh.
When you say, Preoccupied
I think uh
oh I am really adrift.
You keep yourself so far away
like in a box 
like haha but not too loud.
When you say my skin is smooth
I think of seals,
and now
I want you
quietly
from across the coast, googling
are seals 
fools, are they ever 
enough? 
I would open myself 
to you 
like a parasol in rain.

 

 

 

 

Clare Koury, Time Capsule (Long Time), PVC tubing, steel, assorted objects* in saltwater *aspartame, ball chain, bandage strips, beaded bracelet, birthday candles, bobby pins, burn cream, canola oil, CD-ROM [unlabeled storage disc], chamomile, cock rings, cocktail umbrella, coiled phone cord, coins, coral, drying lotion, Earl Grey tea, embroidered fabric panel, fake cobwebs, feathers, flowers, foam scraps, garden netting, Girl Scout patches, glue sticks, grape stems, hair net, human hair, incense stick [Rose Seduction], Ibuprofen, jar lid, jerkbait lure, keychain, keys, lace trim, latex gloves, lighter, magnets, matches, medicine spoon, message in a bottle, miscellaneous hardware, modeling dough, moss, mouthguard, nylon tights, orange extract, palo santo, parking ticket, pencil sharpener, pencils, photographs, plastic rope, PVC straps, Q-Tips, receipts, rhinestones, rolling papers, rubber elastics, seashells, shelf liner, silica gel desiccant packet, silicone lip mask, silk flowers, slime, solder rod, steel wool, synthetic hair, twist ties, USB drive [at full capacity], vibrating bullet, vinyl gloves, votive candles, whipcord, wool roving, Xanax, x-ray projector slide, yard stake, yolk separator, zen garden sand, zip ties 55 ft long 2019

 

 

 

 

Climate Control

 

And if English could sound like music. Or French, where it rolls.
And then it can be liquid, or how skies swerve. 
Why winters go better with night feelings, and music and death are friends.
When gin sews lullabies into brains.
If lonely lie 
in a creek and think of gold.
The fear of waste
or why you must absorb the moon.
So roll your tongue and move away. 
Like a dance. Keeping time. Like clocks. 
Like your eyelashes are long, silk and wheat.
So if they rope me in and teach me how,
make time slow, then gold is temporary. 
And the music and the music. 
So you’re lucid and it hurts. 
Like when you look up and are all, But what does it mean? 
and convince yourself it’s different, since it’s you and time is gold.
Fourteen carat clocks. Carat crunch.
Heat and waste. Orange and gold.
To wake you up and help you fall asleep.
To drink and write and stretch and lust. 
So you make some eggs and sit. Breakfast: the least lonely meal.
So if you burst and guts spill out, they are orange and gold and hot. 
So if you sit and cry and think, then your brain becomes a clock. 
Body smooth like glass. A single crunch of gold.
And if dried violets appear along your sink, know your heart has shrunk.
Why brains and hearts, and music and gold. 
Like when time. Like when time.
Autumn.
Like when I type and bathe, and clocks and gold, and I stop and think
the world is warming. 
One stone hot in my palm.

 

 

Clare Koury, Untitled, Heat sealed plastic, cola gummies, 2019

 

 

Clare Koury, Untitled, Mountain Dew can, light switch plate, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Allowed

 

The last thing I saw at night was you 
on my phone on a mountain 
eating a roast beef sandwich.
That’s true.
Not like how each night I rip from root 
to stem an anxious rosebush blooming in my brain
bonefried dead from trails of curling purple smoke
truly I mean smoking a joint 
to keep my lungs above the sand. 
I’ll miss you, which is a line
too obvious for poems 
but when my mother
yells at me one of the things 
she screams
is to stop burying the lead.
I’m not on Instagram, you said.
It gives me hemorrhoids.
In emerald pools below a disco moon – 
these. The most charming words I’d ever heard.
I post the biggest sandwich I can find.
You like it so like it. Now what happens next. 

 

 

 

 

Clare Koury, A Perfect Display of 15 Happy Years, Wooden shelf, cast soap, porcelain figurine
2021

 

 

Leah Yacknin-Dawson is a writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She recently earned her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she received the Fania Kruger Fellowship. Leah’s work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, Hobart Pulp, Midway Journal and more.

 

 

Clare Koury is an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, video and sound. She received her BA from the University of Chicago in 2015 and her MFA in visual arts at Columbia University in New York City.