Jennifer H. Fortin's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Court
, Copper Nickel, BlazeVOX, Zoland Poetry, H_NGM_N, among others.
Dancing Girl Press will publish her chapbook, If Made Into a Law;
another chapbook is forthcoming from Dusie Kollektiv in 2011. With
three other poets, she founded and edits the online poetry journal,
Levelier. She has been named a Finalist for the Poetry Foundation's
Ruth Lilly Fellowship.

Nicole C. (Apartment 4)

Hey, Nicole C., from Apartment 4.

You never came down for drinks with your freelance boyfriend
Cliff K. after I offered three times in the hallway. Now

you are returning home with your rescued dog
Snow who you muzzle when she wants to walk.

Do you think Snow is ever confused when you say No?
Isn't it too late, Nicole? I guess it's only 10:30.

I am crying really hard because after
weeks apart I just met up with S. at our favorite bar.

You remember, the one I lived with years before
you & Cliff were here. How can you guys leave

your mail sitting for days on the table in the hallway?
There are things in there just for you—that is exciting!

Nicole, I think you are from Georgia . Can you believe
you, Cliff & I are all writers (he is, too)? We should convene

& use the best words. I am crying really hard
because he has left. Just like that. I guess not

just like that, but just like what? I was hoping as we
both approached the gate you'd ask me what was wrong.

Of course you would invite me up
& I could tell you enough to make us both feel

like human beings, then come back down.
Maybe you would make hot chocolate?

You pulled Snow aside & said
Go ahead. I unlocked the door, let myself in.

Nicole C. (Apartment 4)

Nicole C., from Apartment 4,

have you changed jobs, or do you remain
comfortable stating the degree to which
intelligence is idiopathic. O, to present
periodically the unfamiliar as blue descends.
The sequence of perception matters, Nicole.
You lived above me & thus shared
information, such as how we translate hours
into savings. Nicole, does any man among your
circulation understand that you must comply to be
announced as enemies. I never entered into
anything of the kind. I used to
know the number of speeches necessary
to the blocking out of body parts in exchange
for the personal. The one I give endlessly, that speech,
compels commitment & the hearing out of.
Now I will divulge to you, Nicole, what the wise
ones divulged to me. I used to know the way
to leniency. Whether it was better to be the indirect
cause of an exercise, making us all smarter,
or to be candidly involved in the exercise.
Nicole, have you been taking care of Cliff K.
The last I saw, his purple eye had been influenced
by a bike messenger, stitched against light
& nerve damage. Is it worse to ask what happened
or pretend not to notice, which is impossible. As in,
with your new monocular vision, you growing
pet rabbit, you show horse, is it all worth it,
seeing two things at once as she takes pains over
you. Reconciliation but shallow, summer's baby
pool the new twin who goes everywhere together
with your defaced eye, the sound one
sidelined. I am trying to delegate more so I can
stay on schedule with the things that matter most.
I would be grateful if you'd rejoice as we throw
bricks at the sky. We do this because it won't hurt,
because the sky is our holiest alias & still permits us
by sheer passivity the throwing.

Nicole C. (Apartment 4)
Nicole C., my friend was
over after S. left for good.
We sat across the street on
the curb looking into
the windows I would leave
soon. We waited for something
that, for all we knew, would come
from that direction.

Nicole C. (Apartment 4)

My new roommate, Nicole C., isn't my beloved.

Meaning I tell her less
& more both. We arrange to be
pleasurable in our schedules,
to trade off the stocking
of supplies. Cryptic as health
insurance, we do this, & with those same
gestures we release foreign matter.
They have a way of morally purifying
us, these zillion social acts of grooming.
Nicole, she asks me about
specific events, how the weekend's
wedding was, & it knots my powers
more than any wary accompaniment
around the crater. Compare opening,
compare mouth or shape without sound,
or fury's mother. Compare depression,
compare the magic blushing inside every
single machine. The wedding was beautiful.
Probably he won't leave her,
despite the amazon sorrow we all buy
into at some stage, o warrior volume.
Tropical superlative grief, Nicole.
Remember that strength
outgrew the stark & strange.
Remember that some lovers must feel
they're constantly patted down
in starry humidity with woolen mitts.
Pick a day in the future, he probably won't
say after some years, & I'll commute to visit you.
The hotel bed anticipated the obvious

king in me, an American king besides.
Immediately you know I was born
with rugged attention. You should meet
my roommate, Nicole, & my friends who are
contractually united. The best
man revealed to everyone
that everyone hoped to find
himself someone like the bride.
Is that fascinating & terrible
crater full of the anatomy we rejected
for efficient drawing of our bowstrings.
The horse whose hair was pulled
was wondering, I think.
Is the animal now a kind of proxy family
member, violin brother. He sympathizes with
the arches, falling more, more, of
our experienced feet. When the program
wakened in us the kiss of peace, I was
very ready but majestically withheld mine.
If the old covenant proves
insufficient, grace nevertheless
bestows undeserved favor. It's impossible
for relics to embarrass if they are
true relics. Countable days led
to the wedding day, just like other
countable days led to other days.
Instinctually, when I moved
out of that residence, Nicole, it was
on Earth the slowest gleam
between two nights.

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