Poems by Tyler Raso

Fascinating shapes, accidentally

Don’t hold it against me;
I am not an erotic body.
Hold what against me: the body
of eros, passions in tears and strips
and mache. Mache me to eros,

but leave space for the making,
unmaking. Hold me, together.
Couldn’t tell you my best side.

We are merely representations of objects
in fascinating shapes, accidentally.
Ravel to unravel gently, and I may follow.


Without the knowledge of,
one manages (to steal things)—
tremulous figures, pigeon wars,
flat boy, (letters, letters)—and, similarly,
another always manages (to return them).

One gets held up in storytime—
a mess of fingers (separating),
something like sun (surrendering),
pigmy origami animals (reposing)—
though does one know the meaning of?

All our people are little trees—
toppled down, left alone—
with personalities painted on
in soot and snail trails; yet
who bought (matter) the stencils,
or why was it (a matter of stencils)?


Tiny Crane,
About those hands who made you—
If a life is a bird in the palm,
Where would the eggs go?

It’s all in the wrist.)


I have a promise in my pocket, and
you may never live to see it like
the light might see it,

make it seen. It reads

these hands but not these lips
and especially not this voice
because those fell through,

the holes in my own fabric,
my other fabrics—fell up.
Belong, again, to the sky.


Furrowed no. I touch like folding, (like falling)—
I touch, no. Not touch but fold, (fallen)—
One touches, no. Touched, unfolding, (yet falling).

Maybe we’ll recover one another
in fortune cookies.


It is the final day for metaphor and so I prescribe sea salt salves
and a diet of spider webs. These will merely prolong the metaphor of metaphor
so you should hasten to find a replacement. You consider
taxidermy and the ways you might breathe new breath to breathless things.
Erect one woodchuck. Realize its eyes lifeless as silvering buttons on your peacoat
crinkle your spine and so chuck it in the dumpster to fail to rot.
Even so it makes friends with butcher bags empty of bleeding meats and batteries
with no clout left. You’ve done a good thing but you still wash
your conscience with staling baby wipes and hit the drawing board
refreshed. Consider something less lifelike which reminds you
to write a strongly worded letter to the green apple world. You recall
the era of metaphor will soon elapse and so withhold your comments
on the pennywhistle bullies who gave you a hard time
in grade school or the paperback philosophers who
made your ideas feel small but also recall that these mortal laws
detailed nothing about simile and so practice applying like and as
as generously as discount ointment on a burn wound. You’ve made your point
and now the green apple world feels just a little less rotten inside-out
but you hesitate to say you did a good thing which brings again
the baby wipes. As you think the world is more an
engorged and paling blueberry than green or apple
you are struck with the idea to decorate your kitchen
with fruits impervious to worms to oxygen to rot and you think this is
a discretely clever way to metaphorize metaphor for the artist himself painted
the wax the very convincing yellows reds and oranges of the fact the flesh.
You think it might be endearing to arrange a whole wax fruit nativity
and so the basket the manger. The grapes the farm animals.
The orange the mother. The apple the father. The banana the shepherd
though at this point you are stuck because you struggle
with the metaphor of shepherd as Jesus as God the metaphor
of Jesus as God as etc. and any as banana and so instead you
arrange the fruits to your liking and leave it that way
knowing that tomorrow fruit will be fruit.

A body but not my body

  I have spilt
our butter
  on carpets

Chocolate is   a body
the body I aim to admire
    in the way we admire
a body    of butter
  which is to say
  in the ways it is smooth
like chocolate not spilled

  I burnt the butter and
have made the smooth melting
which        Sadly

  Do you recall a body
like butter or recall it more
like chocolate     melted not burned
in the mouth     maybe palm

    On the day the carpet I spilled
that chocolate or butter     I noticed
  the stains    of body
under the burnt of butter   nonsmooths not chocolate
which you recall
   I spilt

Let’s say I burned my body
  not butter and     it too
melts like chocolate    in palms
   or mouths
  not carpets and

though      let’s say
not the butter nor chocolate


nor burned   let’s say
I spilt

 your body


When I Dreamed – Marysa Lee


I had a dream the other night that I had a book of everyone I’d ever met.
Each page was another face,
Preserved by time, just the way I saw them in my mind when I looked
At the memories I had lovingly hung on the walls of my ribs.
My ribs, they tighten every time I see that face again and I hold my breath too long
I crave the blackness that suffocation grants, allowing me to numb myself just one more
I didn’t know the past would burn this badly, but this is a forest fire.
I’d rather a flower on fire than a heart though, for flowers grow back with time, but a
heart will scatter in ashes… as mine is right now.
Right now, as I thumb through pages every one of them found a way to break the bonds,
hoped that we would laugh about it but instead
They too became fractals in the gray, windowless world I slumber in.
Another dog-eared page to read each morning.
Another dog-eared page and I pour myself out again, staining the pages with my bloody
I think about how I am slipping on my own blood, drinking my tears, smoking my
thoughts these days.
How these days, every reflection looks different, every face a void of the unsung future
we never grasped.
Stories I am afraid of, stories I thought I wouldn’t survive, stories I’d give anything to relive,
Pages of more people I miss, people who miss me and people who scare me.
People I wish I never lost and people I wish I never met.
How these days, every effervescent memory swirls around my white ankles like the
ocean in march.

I had a dream the other night that I had a book of everyone I’d ever met.
Each page was another face,
A flame illuminating another locked chamber of my mind,
All the strangest tapestries lining the darkened corridors, woven from features I had
Frayed by rats clawing at the past, tangible once again under dusty chandeliers
In an empty castle echoing with bittersweet laughter.
I turn the pages faster so there is wind blowing from the kingdom on a hill to my face.
I see more faces, and the wasps that live inside my chest rattle in their paper nests
Irritated by my sentimentality they begin to sting- pins and needles! Pins and needles!
My memory is the antithesis of asleep.

I pause on your page.
I recall how I used to make you smile at night.
You had the loveliest smile, even my mother agreed.
How we had imagined fake constellations out of the glow in the dark stars on my
bedroom ceiling,
How I picked up your shattered glass bones and glued them back together with
everything I had.
I forgot that while a skeleton stays put, the ghost is sure to wander. I never thought I’d
lose you that way.
And then I turned the page, discarded the pain, held my breath again.
I see more faces, more moonlit adventures and forsythia branches and mornings as the
first ones on the beach.
I see more wrinkles, more kind eyes, the first person who said they loved me and meant it.
I see mountaintops and Crayola crayons and sick days with chicken soup and Scooby Doo.
I see stained glass choir concerts and trick or treating and chairlifts in a blizzard.
I see Oreos with the frosting eaten out, Gucci cologne, teapot wallpaper, the last words
she ever said to me:
“That’s every sweet of you.”
I see bus drivers, lovers, camp counselors, cashiers, Raabis, librarians, friends, teachers
I see my city from an airplane window and I see my best friend hugging me tight
I see blurry basements and street signs and concerts and favorite sweaters and
I see the Grand Canyon, breaking and entering, secrets weighing down the bags under her eyes
I see a funeral, city rooftops, his slanted ceilings, her beloved rubber tree plant
I see him crying and I see hurricane clouds blowing over a choppy ocean
I see hazel eyes, Christmas ornaments, the bracelet she always wore
I see pearl earrings and lighthouses and old records and a black and white pony
I see chiffon dresses, a four leaf clover, a dock drifting in a lake
I see fireworks, gravestones, dimples, her beloved orange cat: Moth
I see clippings from her favorite book, the Breakfast Club, a hidden tattoo:
“It’s from this poem” she had said.
I see lemon tea with honey, snowmen, his crooked smile, the dream catcher hanging
from the rearview mirror
I see beat up red converse, a homemade piercing, his face when I asked what
happened to us:
“What do you mean?” He had said.
I see the bed of a pickup truck, wet leaves on a winding lane, a tree swing, paw prints
I see the heartlines on palms, endings that never happened, plans that we never carried out
I see sunrises we missed because we were still asleep, dreaming
I don’t dream that often anymore, perhaps I have scared myself with the nostalgia of my
Perhaps I would rather be numb than feel pins and needles up my spine, in my mind, emotional puppeteers.

But I had a dream the other night that I had a book of everyone I’d ever met.
And when I woke up I realized that it is not years I shared with each face but the moment
The moments are what had stuck in my cobwebbed memory, light enough filter the
sunlight for years
Unforgettable idiosyncrasies, bad ideas, favorite things floating in the galaxy above my shoulders
I breathe the past into the present, orbiting a lifetime of faces that form a constellation
My name in the stars.