Evelyn Reilly

Reverse Landscapes


“I have no covenants but proximities.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


1. everything I am is us


Giant prow
in ambiguous
weather. Love is


numerous.insects spores metal cloth


(Are we in
the moving or


The interstices
in which the smallest


Your famous solidity is at stake




The earthworm’s cogito is wet, wet



2. smallest changes



What was at first inept



The fin, embarrassed

a notion of moving onto land



Not knowing how the random




The lessons of kindness

accumulate often under the radar

of dramatic unhappiness



death melts us

into slightly altered information



Air-smell. the next is




3. the remembrance of passion



People having traveled to places

inside the use (and abuse)


of photographs



Repetition never



Every word with hands all over it. Lips. A parting

of hair


one small bruise



Thus she tried to have a foothold in animal



4. in parallel



the road. A small worn mountain


Driving and the faulty meanings


fog and the dead


various sizes
spread out in equality


What slips


what language tries


to call experience



all over



5. lightclocks



The antique light
on your skin today is

out of scale with the humming






Slightest shift

and you collapse
into a gene pool



Glaciers that calved
now melt


Aged light worn from travel
brings a bath of the Romans. Her skin


in particular. Gorgeous

curdled milk



6. the lyric we


Who invited you anyway? Inside

a proposed world filled
with specific things


a situation

Occasions to look from the window

A silver plastic deflated balloon
stuck in a tree for years a partial
bicycle canned goods and a citizenry



(history corrupt
with forgetfulness)



And you my beloved
dirty with desire

and belief in the self
as an independent unit


The micro-organisms know better


Close the door
to persistent




7. walking


Continuous small birds set an example. Open

appealing objects with edible kernels



not to be mistaken

for depth


The interior. An idea

of a place
to visit

digging around like some police


the past supposedly



Your mind entangled and your blind eyes. I asked you
to take them off today



A day of pure walking

A bath of biology



8. across fields accompanied by birds



Ascend. This lies
next to life is terrifying


a field of sorts

Grass dust cumulo-nimbus



and ants holding crumbs


in a complex Aida-like


(enemy body

parts left behind)



The ascension of the birds is their ascension



as slightest changes accumulate

into a new






section 1: Title is from Oppen’s “Blood From the Stone”.

section 3: Line 6 echoes a performance by David Antin in which he said “Every word we use has hands all over it.”

section 8: Title and quote in line 2 are from Lyn Hejinian’s The Fatalist.

“Reverse Landscapes” is an attempt to realize a kind of “eco-poetics,” to write from a position that isn't entirely human-centered. At the same time I wanted to avoid the conventions of “nature poetry” and to blur the line between the cultural and natural. The spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson hovers throughout.

Evelyn Reilly lives in New York City and has just taught a course on visual poetics at the Poetry Project at St. Marks. She supports herself writing text for museum exhibits, and has published poetry in numerous journals including ACM, Barrow Street, The New Yorker, 6ix, and 3rd Bed. Her first book of poetry, Hiatus, was published by Barrow Street Press in 2004. In the same year Hiatus was a runner-up for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. Reilly's new chapbook, Fervent Remnants of Reflective Surfaces, will be published this Fall by Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs.

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