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Please Don't Touch the Art

What a sound I’ve made becoming someone

who wants to find her way back. Increasingly


I’m someone who wants poets to cite

their sources, how they do it in visual art.

I—gnawed bone, copper rod, shape

for swallowing—have been variously.

For a time being from there I was in a city

of sights and souvenirs, learned quick

that limits meant mist, festivals of light.


I’m not being figurative. At the border

there were waterfalls, electric plants,

tightrope walkers going from one public

to another and below them I in a gorge

actually named for the devil. Circumference

along a crease. You got used to it.

For a price there were things to bring back.


I bought time there looking up

at hard acts to follow, learning what it takes

out on a voice, how it makes it slip.

I’m good with saying something about money

because it’s there. It’s here

because it makes me so emotional.

In fact I feel positively lyric about it.


I was angry in a practical way. I mean it.

I was practically angry having gone from one

something to another but this is my stop.


The difference between us and there is one

is I don’t need to touch the art.

Rachelle Toarmino is a poet from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex and several chapbooks. She earned her MFA in poetry at UMass Amherst, where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is also the founding editor in chief of Peach Mag, an independent literary publishing project, as well as the founder and lead instructor behind Beauty School, a new independent poetry school. She lives in Buffalo.

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