RENA PRIEST Real to Reel

The secret army is a memory farm,
a nostalgia-scented chemical whisper
silvering up the atmosphere,
raining lacrima glitter
along a salty escape route
into the city of better.
Their footfalls are a choir
lifting songs from the dust of the road,
causing loneliness to implode
into a sequence so soothing
you want to rub your cheek
on it whilst cooing, oh, oh, reverie,
sweet reprieve, somatic shimmer,
everlasting escape from winter,
you are the sunlit “View
from the Window at Le Gras.”
This Bitumen of Judea, dissolved
in lavender and white spirit,
this silver-plated sheet of copper
fixing images with mercury vapor,
this charge-coupled device
reading the intensity of light—
elaborations on persistence of vision—
a sparkler’s trail, a thaumatrope,
or what we now know
as positive afterimages
pulsating in my occipital lobe—
these begin the poem.
And the secret army of metaphor
is a metaphor for a memory farm.
It sounds hard, but it’s Hundo P Gucci.
It’s “Sallie Gardner at a Gallop”
across every flickering shadow play
from 1878, until the end of time,
which you shall one day stop
but first, said god, “Let there be light,”
then pulled us from the clay.
Honey, make no mistake,
this life is claymation and we made
Gumby in our likeness. He says,
“Cherish each arm bend
and every scenery change.”
La vida es como un gallinero:
bajito y de mierda. The memory farm
is always in peak season.

Life is like a chicken coop: short and shitty. 


Rena Priest is a Lummi tribal member and a writer. Her work draws on history, scientific ephemera, and pop culture to tell stories and seek truths. Her debut book, Patriarchy Blues, was released on MoonPath Press and garnered a 2018 American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Sublime Subliminal, will be published by Floating Bridge Press and released at Elliott Bay Book Company on October 21, 2018. Her work can be found in literary journals and anthologies including: Diagram, Sweet Tree Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Collateral Journal. She is the recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Explorers Grant, to write about regional efforts to repatriate an endangered Southern Resident orca from an amusement park in Florida. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.