Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler: “Vodka”


crashes silently over your head
and everything slants like scenery—
theatrically, the trees across the way
turn to aquarium furniture, the brain
is shucked, sheds vegetable layers
as vodka acts on the surrounding medium.
The warm breathing center of the world
is abruptly shot full of quartz
veins that inscribe fine anatomizing lines.
The heart is stripped at last of clenched red fists
of candles pounding on cold nights,
of love and rumors of love—the lungs
are vast and empty as cathedrals and like
dockside warehouses, the kidneys are shabby
and full of contraband, yet you understand
that your body resembles very little,
and vodka least of all, though unnamed organs
go on moving, warmly moving,
as shapeless fish in a silver net.


Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler is a poet and translator best known for his English renderings of books by great contemporary Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan with co-translator Reilly Costigan-Humes. His work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in journals such as Coldnoon, Post(blank), and Two Lines.

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