Klara du Plessis: Two Poems

Title poem

I regard this poem, this article online, this music video
from the sidelines of my eyes, an unconscious kind 

of integration into rationality like swallowing spirits
that disseminates vertically through the chest

instead of in a straight line down the throat. It’s strange
how the fundamental procedure of naming

insinuates itself into literature w the necessity to title.
Poem titles are harder than book titles for the direct 

engagement with a smaller amount of text.
Obvious/what’s the connection/strong/descriptive

a prefix of rank implicating social standing or still-standing
water releases an offensive smell. Manuscript is ms. 

is a title without marital status. Assignation affixed
to the cover points to the book’s number one verse,

what happens under the covers, this poem is sir,
dr. missus ma’am, but mostly none of the above.


Anthropology (apology) of pencil lead

Incidentally, the tip of a sharpened pencil settles beneath my skin and I freak because lead is poisonous and my body now houses the slow potential of danger. What a way to go if I were to die by way of writing inside myself, that tiny grey dot, a hoary word skinned inside. Self is a lazy word to use, he says, and I cringe because apparently I never think critically enough. I’m about to attempt some kind of essay, but I can’t even use myself in a way sufficiently rigorous.

The French word sourcil means eyebrow, but resembles pencil. That cil, like Circe. That cil, like windowsill. A pen looks through the window, raises an eyebrow, cil like silly, and is metamorphosed into a pencil. 

When I meet a writer I beg her to sign my copy of her book, fall down onto a knee and plea. But I don’t have a pen and the situation gets out of hand because the moment is passing by, there’s a window and soon she’ll leave, plagued by my insistence, perhaps moderately flattered, but mostly ill at ease. And how can it be that I am a writer too, but without a pen in my pocket, in my purse(d lips). I don’t even tell her that I do have a pencil ready, not a pen, but a pencil, for the transitory nature of that autograph will alarm the illusion of authority. Obtuse structure of signage, signature, ligature. She binds her eyebrows together with a line, a dark gesture meant to camouflage the frown that surfaces, then offers to sign my book (her book) with her pencil, the dark brown, thick smudge, curmudgeon eyeliner.



Klara du Plessis is a Montreal-based poet and critic. Her chapbook, Wax Lyrical—shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award—was released from Anstruther Press; a debut collection is forthcoming from Palimpsest Press, 2018. Poems have recently appeared in Asymptote, CV2, PRISM, Minola Review, among others. She curates the Resonance Reading Series.