from In the Antarctic Circle

Dennis James Sweeney

                                 67°30′S 53°0′E

New York is burning somewhere. Our eyes roll uncertainly across the brittle sky.

Shanghai is selling love for thousands. Millions chase it until it loses its breath.

In Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh sits up and hits his head. The guards flinch. Ho bangs weakly on the glass.

Tehran rolls a pair of bloodless dice with unmarked sides.

In the desert, a camel considers keeling over, then decides against it. It would be more difficult to die.

Denpasar smokes a trillion cigarettes.

Calcutta sets its scholars up in houses and crosses its fingers. 

In time, the clouds come and comb the rooftops.

They set the world down.


                                 75°37'S 132°25'W

I had plenty of coping mechanisms. Swimming. Hank. French food, which I swam so that I could eat.

Try swimming in the Antarctic Circle. It’s called looking for a place to fall.

There’s nothing to cope with. I never knew how badly I needed my unhappiness.

If I had known, I would have gathered it up in small, heavy glass beads.

Woven them into my underwear. Never sat again. 


                                 66°27′S 91°54′E

Your big red hood is up. Your vision an oval framed in fur. You wear kilograms of clothing. You manhandle the winter. Tear organs from its open stomach, melt them down and eat them. The wind sneaks past. Times are sharp. You see fog. You must be still. You wait out eternities. You have to remember that the outside does not get tired. Only you. Put your altruism away. First the pancreas, then the liver. Full of winter’s bitter fat. 


                                 75°30′S 107°0′W

Breed me. Make me new with snow. Hank, mold my eyes.

Dishware in white.

The idea of thorns.

Something to protect.

Harmony is a sort of absence. Following what’s left.

We have discovered: No matter how many animals we kill they barely run, knowing they cannot be shaped into anyone else’s want.

A heart is too found to run through.


The blizzard mourns fully and gently over you. 


                                     77°31′S 167°9′E

In the Antarctic Circle, memory is a lampshade, softening the light. The snow is a massive reflector, blinding you with it.

No need for cleaning products in a world where no bacteria survive.

Cast off. Let me know what it’s like on top of the blue expanse.

The parade. Shadowless.

If you can see the mountains, touch them for me.