Philip Sorenson

from Work is Hard Vore



never sleep


is thin and long like the language, seaweed
a face in August

hung in fluttering strips

moons cracked open into other identical moons

alone onscreen glittering pools bright red machines snakes quiet it’s too hot for sound only the sound of the insects stuffed into grasses the un-punctured face as your face so smooth and actual all night long getting high in air conditioned rooms

the Hampton Inn in Lafayette
where we talked about being witches

the actual face that isn’t there because the actual face is just a hole some recursion into verbs a perfectly smooth hole an empty skin a bubble like a whale rising up to the surface of the sea green and stewed nothing can rupture nothing the feeling of your tongue pressing down on the palm of your hand I have an ache in my right leg it is August and there are robins shaking their flat faces in the trees

thin snake world
a wrestler’s body

endlessly identical

swims in skin a deep skin there is nothing but the skin in July water and waves fish eyes turtles insect eyes and plants and stones and mud and further down the folds and flecks all of the undulating mirages the faces here the surface forever pressed up against everything pressed against this screen where it pushes and becomes the screen that moves underneath moving and wriggling and the screen and the skin are the same what the screen says is right there and part of the skin but the things that the screen says are not and never not part of the skin

a back is a beautiful face
a longing

sitting next to the turned-inside-out mausoleum being a function of the stone you are with the grasses wholeness is wholeness is a sighing

and skin as a way to be
just by reclining in the light

like little roses red and all balled up
and they crawled everywhere and spun all over the body

they crawled up the rocks and they crawled through the moss that covered the rocks, and over the lichen. it was late in the summer. it was the last day of summer. they wait near the water. they’ve migrated into their skin. the air moves like glue.


we set stones at the edge of the river and on the other side of the field where we grow olives we set out platters of food and with coal we burn some animal fat and we use the coal to sketch a picture of the rooster and we write RIVER next to the sketch the children set the honeycombs in the grass near the marker we pour sheep’s milk over our hands and arms we are making the fucking work by making edges and knowing to make the fucking work to make generations of people coming out onto the appropriate floor the proper time the acceptable dress the correct movement we regularly discover abandoned office chairs by the side of the freeway or littering the edges of county roads


in the office park
a motionless noon


incredible light

droning everything

demonic acme

a mouth full of germs

glass walls


one moment of the day

bright cold air

office windows glitter

they sleep feed you

tremendous sighs

naked greed greets the noon hour

rotten fruit sits in your trash

kill the sickness with wine wine wine

eat the men hidden in the trees



PHILIP SORENSON has released two full-length books: Of Embodies (Rescue Press, 2012) and Solar Trauma (Rescue Press, 2018). A smaller handmade work was released last year by Another New Calligraphy; though, now it’s out of print. He co-edits, with Olivia Cronk, The Journal Petra.

Abraham Smith


so brief and the briefer
the purpler so memory so ink
to lease at least the taste

of back in the day
where the idea was taste
lasted for a generation

in the throat’s insides
so cranes
epicurean fiends

so cranes
jealous worthy
info hiways

of tipple so guys
craned cranked themselves
a little each day

to maximize the wine
just as guys will
gear towards performance

missing by a tire swing
sagacious with raintar tannin
the point about life

a pigeon right at you
a bee right at you three tree bees
the ducking the dancing true

how you roll a holy lacquer gold
over reflex or duty’s dayby
that’s all

guy says that i might swallow allow
the same coin of wine mudded
hourglass going dunno down

threads its traipse toes
mingled with conjecture
as per the yawning clown

as per the swell portico this
lamplight quaffable
most unbash

mimes a freshfruit
mine is too
attenuated peach lights

pressing pink and orange
against the blue
penals of steel

grandpapa there
couches his shark shoes
on in the corner there

proofin history
a matter of stretching
back from fishing

so sound asleep sound
little flaps of lips his
while cuts down a coast

of forests in zanzabar
his neck trailin out
his pantleg his

out past the disappointment mailbox neck
his out past the twin oaks neck
out past the goldenrod

his out past the yellowrocket
his now you’ll have to
see it with your mental neck

out out beyond museum barn
whole county one
abandon sounds like a rainwet

pigeon slappin her blase freaked
blase freaked heart awake she
feebles touch bad luck barn

whose springruns shits never dug out last
whose roof cut gill prodigal
whose weathered roof’s harelip slit

permits one bad ban(d)ana
string of good day
light to ride

down floorwise and lift
given springtime next and natural
damps of nowhere inviting

this one regal thistle up
for whose wide wide
cactus britches

and personal space
purple heart i writ(h)e to vision
through sugarcubes



they will kite and key over
the tallest mountains
the snow jag hiss kind

the heart monitor in heart
attack’s welly foam kind
and they will with the eases

of phrases once
struck you
in the belly of the bell

wcw purrin beauty

hank baitin pinched vinegar
purple bruise fruit bird
perception unction

my reading all that
in susan howe and
my maybe somehow

splicing johnny keats in
puts me in mind
of folks giving birth to overalls

back when brass clasp
fell on off an amniotic tongue
some power wire undoved

bless the ragged
vinegar sputter of a back-
glancing heart

you know i am the spanner of spaces
you know i am the giver
back of sound

in methy rentals
on dug skin
their bones hangers

seems they step on slips
cast off bad water
in movies when she

she’s running
for her
dark life

when the metal ploughs come in
the people were sore afraid they’ll
poison the soil the accented said

no sir just gonna steek to my
wud one offered one old bohunk
his skin so moled by sun

you’d have thought the day
had a hidden behind ear
number 2 pencil had a hidden

test and was bubbling
in C C C C C spinning circles
closed in him

spat tar
nicking it
in to him

always heard that’d get you
at least most of the way to
not that far from average that away

hate to say it but it’s to crane
credit the chemicals on credit killed
the fields same russet deathlife hillsand

shoehorn scissor
shotgun crane mouth
bellow tomato beanie

above rope or straight smoke neck
above last year’s wasp’s nest blown
one stop shop stab and done shuttle the hack

down the smoke rope
held to the oval then
for one fledge of tocks then

fuel to forge force bird sky worthy
your fate to go down
something 2 carrots thin

plastic bag in elm arm alarm
coked up man’s fixity eye
i go where the night leads me

says slapping at his pockets
like money fights
flights or bites

when scissors and
shoehorns get busy together
with rope and old wasps nests

there you have my
memory of my whack ass
stepdad cutting my hair on

the yard missing cuttin my ears
and carcass flies over
a county off comin runnin

cuz the baste sang
oh i ain’t got
no turkey flats no

and i knowin then
the bleedout secret
freshet candle humalong

someone swimming
flying fulsome in whim water
the milk peace all that glide

seam gem wise the water
midswim mind and then
icicle carrot gat and then

gargle gargoyle and then
gaggle gag gull and then
on into the blown

wasps nest bulb belly body
probably half alive still pre lift
but then what would you be for?

if we are all a little or a lot
a woodlot a good load
what would you be for what?

mess i vote for
let my pretty
my petty parts scatter

cross the platte’s

many or one
footbridge footage
jitterbulge floating

a toll




there’s worse overtime
friend than wings
past dawn

unto the waste corn
walked off the job
those statues just did it again

ah history we
try and stone it
sand bleeds



ABRAHAM SMITH is the author of five poetry collections–Destruction of Man (Third Man Books, 2018); Ashagalomancy (Action Books, 2015); Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014); Hank (Action Books, 2010); and Whim Man Mammon (Action Books, 2007)–and one coauthored fiction collection, Tuskaloosa Kills (Spork Press, 2018). In 2015, he released Hick Poetics (Lost Roads Press), a co-edited anthology of contemporary rural American poetry and related essays. His creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He lives in Ogden, Utah, where he is Assistant Professor of English at Weber State University.