The Student Literary Journal of Vermont State University

It happens like this: upon sustaining a severe blow

to the head, the brain tells the arms to jut out

in front of the body, in the same way that a fencer

will hold out his foil in an act of aristocratic

bellicosity just before all the lights go out. Almost

adorable that this happens when the body

is falling, has fallen. I cannot do justice

to its strangeness, though I imagine it must be

horrifying to see in person: a human

made into one of those World Championship

Wrestling action figures we used to play with:

Sting, Lex Luger, Junkyard Dog, each poised

in their very own action stance, each cast in solid

plastic that will probably outlive us all.

(Can you fathom the idea of your body,

dressed in strange underwear and neon boots, arms

outstretched, duplicated ten-thousand times, cast

in solid plastic that will probably outlive us all?) Go

to the Internet if you’d like a better image than that.

The first video that came up for me was a professional

soccer player attempting to head the ball at midfield,

but instead finding the shoulder of his opponent, then

the ground, and then suddenly: “ON GUARD!”

A two-sport athlete, just like that.

But seriously, folks, the thing to remember here

is that this is not the work of the mind:

it is the body, or the part of the brain

that is the body: the thing that tells us

that we are not safe, to take up arms

as quickly as possible, to remain

frozen in the moment, poised

for victory, defeat,

whatever we dream of

in this boring dark,

whatever keeps us

from coming to.


Caleb Curtiss is the author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). His writing has appeared in New England Review, TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, & elsewhere. He lives in Champaign, IL where he edits poetry for Hobart, organizes literary readings, & teaches high school English.