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Helen Hofling

Sight vs. Hill

A light fixture offered visions it didn’t ask for anything in return
no steep climb or opus no erasing history no Orson Welles
instead here's a magnolia tree leaping out of a face like a blooming chandelier
I never know the names of flowers
a Roman bust flew through the windshield
only breaking when the grey bird called to it
the bird spoke a word meaning the opposite of consumption
meaning images spilling out from a slide projecter a volcano of light
the bird made the sound of a dial-up internet connection when it spoke
if sound = wave does light = ringing
mirages are bound to occur in such silver heat as this and yet
there's no inventing that castle above the hill
it could be home to so many villains
a bloodthirsty countess or an elegant bat
a family of ghosts who think they're still alive
a man with a colorful beard he is really a demon but doesn't know it
watch out for him he'll turn you quick
within the castle's turrets twenty madwomen might reside
below a root cellar well-stocked only the finest wines and worst devices
how did you become stranded here
was it too many fairytales as a child or were you in a car accident
for option A turn to page 83 to continue your adventure for option B
call 911 or find someone who can before it's too late

Sequence vs. Screen

The story ran backwards through a hoop to put its hand in mine
it folded a pinwheel from magazine pages blew soap bubbles in the shape of
rare orchids the story ate a puddle of mercury the story began the beguine
it opened a peep show nickelodeon and didn't charge a dime
it said it would do anything to entertain it wanted to be new for me it wanted to
redirect my eye distract from the story's empty parts its interstitial objects
an open window hovering
the story didn't know how to stop at a few glasses it fell all over itself at the party
it never focused on developing its core its connective tissue
the story skipped strengthening exercises because it wanted fast results
if the story with good posture is logical is the story with bad posture bad logical
don't blame it for drinking it just wanted to feel the right atmosphere
quicksilver with a strong herbal smell do you see
the tape was damaged a hole burned down the middle a long one
who do you think lives at the bottom
is it a nightmare or a crystal mine is it the old lady with the longest hair ever
does it sing as good as Loretta Lynn or at least her sister does it live in
a broken mansion filled with howling swans has it seen
a neglected foreign horror movie filled with chandeliers and rips
does it know the three ghost girls over there
just floating up

Helen Hofling
is a writer and collage-artist. Her work has recently appeared in, or is forthcoming from Barrow Street, Berkeley Poetry Review, Columbia Journal, Hobart, PANK, Passages North, Prelude, and elsewhere. She co-chairs the PEN Prison Writing Poetry Committee, and is a co-founder of Maps & Apparitions Press. She works as a freelance editor and teaches writing in Baltimore, Maryland.