The Sublime, Backwards by Rachel Ellis Neyra

The Sublime, al revés

If lilies would grow / backwards, /

if roses would grow / backwards, /

if all those roots / could see the stars…

Earth, Federico García Lorca



I touch through the unknown surface

Slowly beholding the repetition

Of an elevated vantage.

How to scale the fullest feeling of

Obliterated sight.

Landscapes seen

With my nose. Winged words

Perch on painted lines

Summoning from their frames

Motion. I sit down

Desiring both stir and stillness

Under the yellowed down-stroking light

Of this seasonal cusp.

Splayed in the joint – September –

My body turns inside a stone lumina

Smelling vetiver.

Sunlight shimmers through

The ceiling’s plexi-glass orbs:

Installations made from scraps of spaceships:

Bulging eyes make the sky land down

On these alien gray quadrants,

Draw my ears up

To the down-scrapes

Of branches bobbing and weaving,

Boxing with the wind.

The popping lights

Work up their inner Edison,

Lick their glow:

Starry calls for an art of



Earth made strange

Meet landed sky.

Smell Neruda’s poppies

On the green of Rehashing Mythology.

Smell the sweat smeared

On the finger snapping

Photographs at Aivazovky’s blue heights,

Heights I see from below,



A ghost cliff floats

On the horizon of the wilderness.

Could Thelma and Louise be flying just there,

In the beyond of that brush-stroked world

That is not a location

But a place?

A place where maenads






Disappearing landscape.

Tonguing geographia

To keep it present.

Is Chavela Vargas crying out of

A dive bar’s speaker system

In the town hugging

That Context-Dependent mountain’s skirt,

Where flickers of light

Suggest human existence?

Is Beatrice waiting

On the other side for me,

Above the Blakean-


Of The Unfamiliar Truth?


At the corner of Truth and Encoding,

The stones’ water stained V

Dangles like a spider’s web.

The V reverses the golden breach

Of Cole’s Expulsion. Moon and Firelight,

Calls to An Agent of Seduction

Across the room.

Paradisiacal / subtropical light breaks

Into a waterfall.

Arctic swaths of white

Downturn the dark.

Paddle towards that

Ice cave;

I want to climb into

That hole.

Hibernate my larvae.

Fiery then frozen temperatures

I want to feel on my skin.

A cold I want to feel so cold

That when I thaw and smell again

The dampness of overturned dirt

Will come on like a howl.


The sublime from in this hole

Feels backwards.

Roots upturned to the stars

Make the surface the underground.

The sounds of nature dubbed by

The blues of painted permafrost yield


The bubble between your parted lips

Goes Boom like

Drilling oil.

Blue green blue

Green blue green –

The pattern is broken,

Could go on for miles but

The seasons are upset.

Blue blue blue

Green blue red –

It’s after the end of the world,

Don’t you know that yet?


This poem was written by Rachel Ellis Neyra, Assistant Professor of English