How to Cohere

by Jenny Sampirisi

Jenny Sampirisi is the author of Croak (Coach House Books) and is/was (Insomniac Press). She’s the recipient of the 2011 KM Hunter Artist Award for Literature. She teaches English Literature at Ryerson University. You can find her online at


What it resembles.
The front of one creature.


Like talking to themselves.
No was.
Mostly, I have.

Talk as distinct from figuration.

Away and with
the multiple of dense voices.

Then say
It’s not ever today.
I’d light what it stands to be.

And speak that physics.
These smatterings alone.
The only way of my sense.

A practical spoken we.
All of a code swinging subject.

In chattering lines,
what could cohere, loosens.

Know whatness.
Open up. Say I.
Part from each.

It’s all presentation.
It’s jaw as a
universe about to drop.

What it resembles.
One and one other and others.

The city summarized in
the tallest structure.
The CN tower not
green tonight not
blue tonight.

So birds go there
go up there
The noise of light—
Was going to say:

Green veins in the turquoise,
Or, the grey steps lead up under the cedars.


Talk tower, say south
say it straightens say ah oh so
it’s red tonight
going up in waves.
Neon vein of the tower.

Do you see what I mean?

If you paint houses
sky blue and they are.

All over blue out there.
Is it red tonight?
Is it going up in waves?

A veined structure
postcard close.

The moving city
so settled on stillness
flicks off with weather.

Take a seat
The chairs are not
Move around
Open your
Or stay

Buster Keaton in The Playhouse.

Dances himself. Mother-self to son-self. Lover-selves quarrel. Married and a bachelor, all instruments. Conducts from the stage.

Voiceless he says, This Keaton seems to be the whole show.

He splits
in chorus with

theatre loge, orchestra pit,
backstage, front row.

There they are.
Buster Keatons.

Bored and joyed.
The bored joy
of taking a seat.

Keaton dreaming
himself awake and infinite
as Circe or Tiresias.

The screen in black
and white mouths
honky tonk.

I was coming together anyway,
so I clustered.

This Keaton seems to be
the whole show. And I am,
I am almost Keaton in
the audience one
hundred years later
another shirt
more coffee.

The CN tower
out the window,
the stairs going up.

Eternal patterns.
Figures of the mind.
The whole show.

Every Keaton falls on his ass

I ask,
Can you say you dream

4:30 in the morning.
2 a.m.
At the last, let go.

One Keaton throws the cello.
Another one plays.

One and one other.

hold still. Say keep.

The film flickers a silent
chaos of Keatons.

Out my window, the ceiling
is corrugated plastic.
Being alive with the talk
of boys in the city

creatures that came
with the weather.

You might want some yellow.
You might want some purple.
Goes up in waves. The singular

Where leaves lean
they’re south-west and winter.
Grow black-grey fur. Grow eyes.
Flesh tails and teeth.

The daydream
is digital puff
turning brown and light
enough to enter.

Out there choice as
ice trees caught as
wild fountains splitting.

“And I have tried to keep them from falling.”

This Keaton is the whole show.
The complete unit.

Photo files
line up by date.
Faces to the fore.
There they are.

Three boys break bottles
in the alley again.

Sky-blue houses
drop off the grid.

Flood alarm.

Until what
comes next.

A selection of yous.

Forward or onward
motion, as a timeline
marked by tallest structures.

I love you as
a record of dates.

ease of surface.

surface holds the
genre of fairy tales.

the moral spell

the resistant histories
and the types of decay.

And Thoreau emerging from the woods says,
If I had remembered this it would have prevented some mistakes.
Perhaps I have.

Every recording
begins with the word So.

An axis of
hula hoops and skipping ropes.

Saying multaneously:
It is as the edge of embryo.
I was it. I have that approaching self.

It is theatre
fooling around in
the human amalgam.

And what there is of light loves
the dishes first then takes
to the floor.

Light of the city as
word, myth, or Do Something.

The sufferance of objects
contaminated first.

This mess of afternoon on the dishes.
Keaton says, “Messieurs, assayer-vous.”

To go in backwards
Begin silent and sit.

The sublime contaminated
by intents will forget
the light out the window.
The light in the kitchen.
Real coffee in a real cup somewhere.

What seems to bother
people’s attentions?

Music one listens to.
Music one plays.

Builds toward a person
of little routines.

In the alley
stairways go up
be composed—

orange light going up
the tower in wave.

And here is the house
becoming oneiric.

In attention
and the usual

In our daily experience as
mimetic contractors.

And there is the story
of the cat and the bird.

The voice suffused by
what it says:

Saw a bird by its head
in the cat’s mouth.

If I compared it
to a sky
that’s where
I last saw it.

The bird sound
in the cat mouth.

When she dropped it
there was calm in the house—

everything appearing to sleep,
all certainty in light and sound
where appearance is made.

And there
on the floor

the tremor
of the tea towel.

Every attention of the neural,
the constructive, and the definable
existing subject altogether aligns.

I am
you again.

Not like a tower.
Not red or blue at all.

Closer to
the edge of a dock.

What it resembles.
From none to some.
Run a dirt bath.

You dissolve into future
versions. Coffee on the stove.

Remember this:

In the creations,
all that says
God is Buddhistory.

And to protons,
the world is their influence
of a massifying looseness.

Buster Keaton dances,
bones, tambo,
asleep in the deep.
Wake up. Be here.

Give permission: collective-poet.
A series of minoritative-I’s
gathering to creature.

Out there in the hours
you learn dialectic.

The red light going up
the tower of the city.

This is all previous.
The amalgam that scatters.

Jenny Sampirisi is the author of Croak (Coach House Books) and is/was (Insomniac Press). She’s the recipient of the 2011 KM Hunter Artist Award for Literature. She teaches English Literature at Ryerson University. You can find her online at