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“The Counterworld”
and Other Poems


Mathew Weitman

Art by Janet Biggs


The Counterworld

The monks who keep the void clean
begin by sweeping up the many rivers
& undoing all the trees

The easiest way to catch a hawk
explains the ancient abbot
is to remove the branches sky & fields of mice

Each thing goes
& along with it
goes each thing

How long have I lived
as a man resigned
to finding the counterworld

of this abyss
How long have I stood
watching the brooms

& sleeves of monks
for any sleight of hand
How long have I searched

the parallels of nothingness
for coyotes howling for sex
on a frozen lake

Somewhere there is a closet
full of blue whales
& the breath of flies

or an under-the-bed
where the trails we rode yesterday
are still wet with horse-piss

Somewhere there is a rug
that cannot hide
beneath itself


The Potter’s Field

Not to dig for but to bury
abstractions: a field is

not as empty as its surface
when the crowded earth beneath it

makes each seed dour: the body
happens & goes away

Calamus propagates in the eye
socket of a ruined head to bloom

in thickets where gales tangle:
wind-songs made from paupers’ brows

Columbines germinate in mouths
& root in ribs to draw water from a lung

stony petals: each pistil rises
from a heap of selves

I’ve slept outside & felt
the frames that feed a meadow

The heart wants to become soil & nothing
else: a bone dreams of softening to dirt

shoulders to let a lily
& knuckles a blade of grass


Short Answer

Or if instead to piece together
the arc of your unbeing
& frame it as a test

rather than a gesture towards an absence
As if to ask which vapors hung around
the farmers market yesterday before becoming clouds

your warmth dissipates from a chair
Forgive me
I would fail this test

the textbook I am using was my father’s
whose marginalia is lost on me
as he has read & referenced a great number

of burned books
I move a pen because I miss you
In a poem without squirrels

my father has scrawled beneath a photograph
of moon phases you are organizing the drugs
Understand I am unfamiliar

with most processes happening around me
am often confused by such things as sand
dollars & petrified wood


Mathew Weitman

Mathew Weitman is a Brooklyn-based poet, musician, and writer. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Southwest Review, New South, LIT, Unbroken, and more. He received his MFA from The New School and releases original music under the monikers Hotels on Mars and Sqwks.

Janet Biggs

Janet Biggs is an interdisciplinary artist known for her immersive work in video, film and performance. Biggs’s work focuses on individuals in extreme landscapes or situations, navigating the territory between art, science and technology. Biggs has collaborated with nuclear physicists, neuroscientists, Arctic explorers, a robot named Shimon, and recently sent a project to the International Space Station as part of MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative.

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