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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Lauren Camp

Unpredictable Outcome

I can’t understand physics. I’ve been reading a small black book.

Spreading theories of transformation of light.

The curvature of space, the relative universe,

rounder and fuller. Every day is a lump of energy,

the previous day a new block of life.

But when hours lose reason, the equation shuts down.


One cold night, I woke out loud from my alchemical dreams,

not yet ready to let off the persistent vision of tragedy.

It was impossible to imagine any other belief.

I had to wake to salt the wounds. I woke to hold that lack

I had constructed. Went into the hallway where sense

slowly passed into me with its distraction. I sat in the purple lilt.


Before my father was dying but after he had begun

to forget in earnest, I told him I love you and the velocity of my telling

was something I could cling to. A length, a continuum.

Outside, there was no order, just the earth’s old eye

below correlating fields of stars.

The physics book says there is no such thing as a real void,


one that is completely empty. So the earth is in a sort of balance,

slipped between people and porch. The start of dawn, the flint

of hummingbirds. Us. Him and me and you.

My dad responded to what I said: Thank you for the love.

I keep looking at it. The moment held many particles,

infinitely large and also disappearing.

Actual Practice

We brought birds to the window with round bread;

brought our limbs from the rousing.


I never kept a diary, only a yellow box of knots.


We ate cake on plates we bought

from a store suffused with lanterns.


It was necessary to order the kingdom, let the tale continue.


I cut tufts of fur. I obeyed all the yelling.

Took from my pocket a palace.


Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press). Honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, Housatonic Book Award and North American Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, Witness, Poet Lore and Kenyon Review, and her work has been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, Serbian and Arabic. She is a Senior Fellow at Black Earth Institute.

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