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Macalester College RELI 136-01: Reading the Upanishads at 19

Having come from East High, no religion taught—one faith assumed— I thought school only for social cruelty, ketchup packets ripped open, jammed through locker vents, smearing the textbook below. For shame. For fact checking the findings of Newton. Not getting grace-bit by a Text. Not feeling at home in bone and air, not seeing Self as a fiber of the worldskin. I began imagining my body as wholly sheathed in swamp- light. Of course, it faded. But for one whole month I walked arms out, fingers spread still as the roots of trees.

January: Noon

White sky met white farm plain below, snow- mist blowing but not falling, dunes risen from cloud to dust and crush the land. Tibia trees leafless, fracturing, fracturing. I drink too much. Indulge in dullness, edging this world of sense and lines into impression. Liquor my paintbrush. I have never allowed myself anything pure and easy. Low covering clouds do not break, but thin. And sun simply makes it harder to look.


My whole house is a mess. Peanut butter jar soaking in the sink, buried under pots for a week. My shitty Chevy Cobalt gathering snow and neighbors' dirty looks.

I have lost all my tax forms again. Late on electric, water, heat. All of my groceries are beer. All of my lovers are gone. There is this particular half-crystal

shattered flake that falls when yogurt lids are left out for days. My friend tells me I should fear for my car—battery dead—should fear being labeled abandoned.

My friend says, “Listen, Elliott, you owe me four-hundred dollars.” I make coffee for breakfast, coffee for lunch. Step out on the small, square back porch, sip from my mug in a bathrobe. Listen

to the morning thicken, to the thin tin roof announcing snow-melt. I was never a tactician for the world. Never enough an actuary to account for myself. I was never more swept with sunlight.

Elliott Niblock was born in Appleton, WI, and educated at Macalester College (BA), Harvard Divinity School (MTS), and the University of Montana (MFA). His poems have appeared in The Boiler, The Wick, Chanter, and elsewhere. Niblock works as a freelance writer, dividing his time between Missoula, and itinerancy.

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