Claire Donato

Claire Donato: 1) grew up in Pittsburgh; 1.5) lives in Brooklyn; 2) wrote Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press); 3) is at work on several projects: a second novel, a poetry manuscript, and a film adaptation of SPECIAL AMERICA, a multimedia performance on which she collaborates with Jeff T. Johnson; 4) has recent writing published or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Aufgabe, 1913, Encyclopedia, PELT, PEN America, and The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare; and 5) teaches writing at Parsons The New School for Design and The School of Visual Arts. She received an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. 

Phantom Limb

Touching his face
               his missing         fingers
I feel my own missing
    arm defy my body’s       boundaries
Like an omission                comes apart
       and cannot stop

I Will Not Die Here

We all have feelings of staying in touch
An example may be found in airports
Not having been attacked, I have been
Attacked in some contemporary
City for whose grim statistics
We should feel a sense of shame

We should feel a sense of shame
For our attitudes toward death
Like cracking an egg with a double
Now we will talk about dogs
Close to a wall or a boundary
Because we’re of one mind

A System Is Taking Shape

        with Lev Vygotsky, for Rick Donato

The child talks about himself
as if there is no social life
in foreign tongues

Notice in particular the glass
dog barking in the yard
that squeaks when pressed

It is an odd little word
the adolescent slices
to take off my black dress

And wipes away this talk
and skins off all my feedback
picks out its claws at random

The child speaks in foreign
tongues about his occupation
as if it is his social self

What baffles him is flower without rose
how the two are interchangeable
and juxtaposed

A word devoid of thought is dead
and this is a draft
unconscious of his own

Hate Hug

I am not the only one who finds herself at odds.
Something happened now the sound of language leaves me dead to bloom.
By night eggs scatter toward the body of a fish a married man I fell in love.
With a tragicomic tree from which a bare branch dangles.
Makes a fresh clean cut at home alone and eats my feelings.
A rosy barb cannot defeat the mind to heed itself.
After the first frost I clipped the stem oh I can be up front about this.
It’s where I live today between the graveyard and the park.
My mood in its black dress licks salt in cursive strokes.
Doves at the edge of the lake submerge the lake into a stroke.
I also want to thank the nuclear bomb who knows exactly who he is.
But where is the schoolgirl who used to be me I ask each hunting season.
How are you wild horses from the hills with tilted hooves.
Around the shopping mall at noon the walkers eat their lunches.
Or sit alone in a magnetic field as noiseless as the sun.
It’s a Monday morning known for eggs and virgin hemlock.
Due to the influence of real estate the hills are looking dumb.
Known to be huggers we greet each other warmly.
This tension allows us to grow.

My Arsenal

I fell in love with nuclear bombs      to make a public state
As if they were my arsenal      I collected them
Their existence      designed to bring a splattering      or else
I stop laughing altogether to completely rid myself

To rid myself of laughter I looked at where I was
I look at where I am and start to burn
Like a bomb laid out in 12-point font      carried as lost luggage
I seek damaged text      and lay it gently

Lay it down in lavender      to set it free from death
And fire it with blanks      as shots ring out in my absence
Laughing in a bed of nails beneath the moon’s full specter
I seek privacy from what      I cannot hate