Claire Donato


A Floating World Of Errors


The plant I love is an avatar
for whom I take photographs
between the hours of 11:00am
and 200x200 pixels: lyrical macrobiotic
circles dressed with chickpeas and edible
flowers call out in slow burn
from the polka-dotted void
where ocean = audience
and sand = fake world
and not ≠ is a logic I employ
at the root of the network’s periphery, where
I research the best practices in

                                                               HOW TO GUT MY LOVE

                                            1) hold it firmly by its skin and scrape the scales;
                                           2) grasp its stem to anchor yourself;
                                           3) connect the word love with French l'oeuf ‘egg’;
                                           4) note the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero.

An egg is not a zero, but when I think of it, I think that
once upon a set of images—before the age of the handheld
computer—we ran into each other. The setting was a non-profit
community arts center, a counter-serve vegan eatery featuring locally
sourced fare in an arts complex of galleries and performance spaces.
I carried a small rectangle. At times, I stared

into it. Of course, this memory is affected by sediment. I try to chase it
in order to illuminate it, but it
fades out in the center of a field, and I
am in the middle of a modern living room, painted white
for Zen energy. Or, I am writing a poem through my celibacy
—which I have been driven toward violently—
so when an outsider scoffs at erotic literature, I stand
ground. Could I fall in love with this plant? I am
, I type. It is a new form of apartment.

Like a top or Jacob’s latter, I’m attempting to be better
while exposing the remainder of the time we spent
together. This isn’t an attempt to create distance. I
want to let you know what’s happening in my world:
trips, crossings, trudges, abrupt and gradual—
the gentrified island, aquamarine—
I hope it’s not weird I’m explaining this: that

the last plant I loved was a willow who lied.
I’m keeping everyone safe, it lied.
We’re the same age, it lied.
Love doesn’t have to be anything, it lied, and this lie
was a lie of attraction, for as it lied, it looked
like two perfectly circular eggs.
I stared in, tore open the golden yolks, and
smiled. When a conflict arises, one smiles

to remind the other of what one prioritizes—so there’s
hierarchy, and unity, and always some disparate creature
of greater importance, a sea mollusk eight years
one’s junior who dresses in colorful yarn. But
I am in love with the end of this story, the plant
whose presence, once a day, grazes mine.
Together in the rectangle, ours is a floating world
of errors punctuated by occasional sentences.
Some days, we say hello.
It’s the closest I’ve come to knowing anyone.
It’s the nearest I’ve been to another without coming close.


Oh, How Lovely Is This Planet


You have to break relationships to replace them
says an unidentified man
who occupies my heart as an accessory
exported from a planet
where no one holds a bank account
and where one hour is equal to 29 years
— the # of years I’ve loved you —
even knowing what the patriarch has
done to make the situation worse

And then my rapist graduated and became
post-punk, a term I very much think of
when I think about crystalline plants
and people in big cities afraid of the sky
who cannot use the word in conversation
for fear of an encroaching lunar mare
located in the Moon's Crisium basin
where non-consensual sex forms
the bedrock on which this lake sits

Oh, how lovely is this planet
It has a flat floor with a ring of wrinkle ridges
toward its outer boundaries, and this cape-like
feature protrudes into the West, visible from
the Earth as a small dark spot I kiss
as an expression of forgiveness

And so too is this lake a forgiveness
whose moral of the story shames me
but is a direct extension of my heart
because it’s easy to break the social contract
— I too have violated its Terms

And was he my rapist or a war crime I actively
avoided from within the noodle shop’s fluorescent
interior minutes after orbiting love’s
darkness, a lifeline I reboot through the birch
bark I carry on my shoulders into history with
certainty, where there is no clear oblivion for this
earthly dust from off thee shaken


It Has Been Six Years

how has our vocabulary grown
an extra glass of Cabernet or a borrowed Xanax
a pair of corresponding hands or a 1960s
black lace dress you fancy I take off
the Northeast winter
the title of this post is bad enough with no
forced breaks, or a host of other HTML
sins the door’s a wholesale canning jar
screwed shut in a fit of wildflowers
the left-hand margin’s integrated circuit blooms
thick purple-spotted flowers
so tonight that I might see us 



May your prose be quiet and violent
May your limbs grant you agency
May your crying be full of rage


There Is No Right Time


If you were here I would no longer be a ghost
And I might love you though I'm not myself
But flowers in a plot behind an antique curtain
Where I imagine declaring my love
Unknown at the end of a dormant galaxy

Nor is this assemblage a sparkling wide galaxy
That cannot be sustained and so it loops
Into a sine-wave where I seek to look to find
Provided the object is true
Sorry getting tired typing suffering


Claire Donato is the author of two books: Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013), a
not-novel novel, and The Second Body (Poor Claudia, 2016), a collection of
poems. Recent writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Territory, DIAGRAM,
Bennington Review, VICE, Fanzine,
and The Elephants. She teaches in the
BFA Writing and Architecture Writing Programs at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn,
NY, and is a Mentor for the PEN Prison Writing Project.