from “A Rupture of Interiors”

by: Valerie Witte

Valerie Witte’s poems are layered constructions that bend, break, and reform as they enact the density of experience mediated through language. In them, rupture is a type of cohesion or coherence, a song of shifts and intrusions that makes our brokenness whole…



Was she always discolored  synthetic, fragile or adequately

crossed what a face must do to produce

expressions  Where she encountered moisture, tarnishing  flexibility

methods, cartilage might fail  so we can never

quite convey the secrets of our own embroidery

enfolded, those weft- and warp-intensive weaves  She

understood the lightness of infants  but when kilned

into a composite whole consider  boiling ourselves  there the scales

of dragons gilded, indigenous  She was said to contain more

than twice the number of intermittent hues



Two derivative skins, blistered  because shrinkage

is sometimes reversible  readily creating voids  A “spinal cord” interlaced

sheers swagged  a way of hanging waste  the white

of lead imparting a pallor  Yet she tried lightening

at least once a day  as seen from the front

or back, printed both sides  fossilized  what we attempt when wet

exploited by machines: we are almost human, anyway 



To safeguard only suitable eggs  Upon entering

the rust series  an impervious barrier

of spaces a way of silencing  Suggested in caves her curves were remnants

or secluded recesses  a heavy coat to protect

against desiccation, inner shards

and reservoirs  Her affected parts discarded  venoms

are mechanisms for evaporation such as panting, shorelines thick

with prey  where few linger relentless, prowling

for worms, a womb inside which we are  incubated 



When we are transformed clawless  out of the water  Also

the red  garments are tents of deprivation by means of leaves

or lungs: ventilation  lost  Any organ unusable at times, decayed

could resemble  a bellows  “I thought life was boring, I thought

I was boring despite disruption in glades

or swamps  But it was just my hair  the flesh of evergreens fallen

to feed  and harvest a handful  in the southern

hemisphere our pigmentation richer  But then I dyed it and I feel

so much betterHair is everything” reassembly 



Predicting our future

hides  we retain the cool until  Honeycombed

for silver, for cohesion her reading of landscapes

muted  amid dampening

tea, silk raw, when engines were vital  such canopies

of cords are essentially love and esteem

trains  nylon safe as bullet-proof vests attesting

to the longevity of torsos enclosed  When all she wanted

was evening


Valerie Witte is a member of Kelsey Street Press, which publishes experimental writing by women; and she is a co-founder of the Bay Area Correspondence School, which aims to explore the impact of digital culture on contemporary writers. Her first book, a game of correspondence, was published in April 2015 (Black Radish Books); and her chapbook, The history of mining, was published in 2013 (g.e. collective/Poetry Flash). Her work has also appeared in more than 30 literary journals, including VOLT, Diagram, Dusie, Alice Blue, Shampoo, Interim, and elsewhere. In 2014 she began a collaboration with Chicago-based artist Jennifer Yorke, and their work based on her writing has appeared in exhibitions in the U.S. and France. Valerie holds an MFA in Writing degree from the University of San Francisco.

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