Redefining north.

Two poems by Dan Gutstein

Two poems by Dan Gutstein


PN's Sara Ryan on today's bonus poems: In “Prodrome” and “I Feel Like Inwardness,” Dan Gutstein plays with language and its constantly shifting identities. These poems meld definition and meditative meaning, and they create a dark, eerie sense of time and its ever-forward movement. In a kind of linguistic translation, Gutstein allows language to unravel upon itself, and through that, these unsettling poems engage definitions of death, the word “no,” and the very names that we give to color.


Curtains instead of snow,
fuel instead of snow.
The darkening darkens.
Walkers unlike confetti in wind

unlike a thumpless boot.
Language travels a gradient
with less certainty than water
away from the color of ice.

The word “sepia” cannot inhabit
shoulders and seams.
“Gray scale” cannot inhabit
the many shoulders and seams.

A commonplace junction / what alights /
what endures / who is phoning.
“Halo” as in “premonition” /
what alights.

The opposite of exhaust
will not delimit
the opposite of a curvilinear motif.
Nightwork of the snow, rotary,

nightwheel of the wind.
Kitchens, watchers,
and the illiquid hands of a clock,


I Feel Like Inwardness

metal fatigue
in the museum
of our reflexes

voice: eviction: disorder.


There are different
kinds of “no”
(registers and meters)
I feel like meters

the word “death”
as in “accrual”
“accrual” as in
“cemetery,” the word.


Curvature / rail
streetcar / torque

warehouses retain
a few glimpses
of utility (square footage

so reverent
it impairs the durable
without song


What is inward &
simultaneous (we

are water & we
are breathless

eyes: voice: repose.

Dan Gutstein is the author of two collections--non/fiction (stories) and Bloodcoal & Honey (poems)--as well as stories and poems that have appeared in PloughsharesAmerican ScholarPrairie SchoonerThe Iowa ReviewTriQuarterlyBest American PoetryThe Penguin Book of the Sonnet, and elsewhere. He blogs at

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