The Heart


The heart just won’t stop                    You

try and you try                    You yank

up plies and push it down

deep under the floorboards                    It won’t

stay                    It won’t stop                    That’s not

quite the right account but you

are attempting to re-state the plot    

In this case the floor becomes

a door into a muddled memory

of a gory story and twice

now you’ve confused the scene of

a hacked up corpse with the

end of another horrifying chronicle which—

of course—couldn’t have happened exactly

the way you explained it—and—

in fact might even have occurred

in your own life                    Now observe

how despite a lack of accurate

facts you will still permit yourself

to speak—for to tell a

story poorly is an ancient disease    

The woman described the instant in

which she heard a recording cry

out from the mouth of a

headstone                    There was just one button—

imitating death’s tone                     The devise belonged

to one already gone and he

was long in professing his affection

for his once still grieving breathing

love                    His living other                    Though—the

woman said—she noticed the bride’s

name buried far from the persistence

of her groom’s unrelenting passing                    His

strange strained refrain                    The story of

the heart is that it just

won’t stop                    It talks and talks



Caryl Pagel is the author of Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death, published by Factory Hollow Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, Devil’s Lake, Jacket2, and Thermos, among other journals. She is the co-founder and editor of Rescue Press and a poetry editor at jubilat.