Refraction (Artaud to Jean Paulhan) / Aaron Boothby

the special fire, the strangely lit facet of a particular thought, which needed this perversion in order to catch this secret fire, this illumination of one of its hidden facets

Not until I try to restrain the residue. Then difficulty. The object. What is it. The tree fell cracked at the base. Devoured from the inside. Weakened. There was rain there was wind there was a storm. It fell. There are yellow balloons hanging. Moss where hand touches. Softer than bark where skin touches. The thought is the tree fell. Without being the words “the tree fell.”

To keep looking at what is not there. To retain touching. Nose pressed into moss. Wet green of fur. To forsake idea for records of nerves. Losing the ability to answer what it is. Said held idea found carapace in a hand. Thought writhes as it burns. Char marks the space in mind where it’s held. Peat fires where nerves smoulder. Hot coals on the inside of leafed flesh still living.

Evening falling through scales of blues before a moon’s absence rising. The thought is not the tree fell the thought is a particular tree on a particular street before a particular house with a particular form. Specificity defies relatability. Your tree did not fall. Your nose did not touch moss. Inhaling. You have nothing of this. Phrases crowding perverse around refusal to allow thought’s alighting.

They are only words. They cannot soothe. Courriers of burning. Agonies. She says hummingbirds you can leave in sun to dry. Examine frozen iridescence. Under a boiling refusal motion dries to dust. The bird fell. What red trajectory no longer is. The signal ceases. The nectar is not drunk. Idea erases being by dominance. An unfolding orange of hibiscus spreads as wide as a palm.

Folds back into itself. Stilled wheel of blurring feathers within. Petals suck shards of an idea. Vanishing them. The curved beak piercing through. I want to look long enough to know. This terrible thing which motion obscures. To catch as if it can be caught. The shield evaporating hot gleam exposed. Corolla unwrapped under new arc of stars. A syrup dripping cochineal onto leaves.

Taste and it flees. Each time. The perversion is stillness. Close to lifeless it remains. You remain. Watching. Touch and it flees. Syrup coating tongue’s greed. Suddenly only sweetness. In a sensual world of thought’s lack of utility. The perversion is arresting encounter. Flower’s wet bulb crushed in hand. Leaking out. A metamorphosis that alters only the feel of a thing.

Broken enigma fixed on a gleam, face pressing deeper against wet moss and breathing.

Aaron Boothby is a poet from California now living in Montréal. Work has been published in PRISM, Axolotl, Liminality, and other journals while a chapbook titled Reperspirations, Exhalations, Wrapt Inflectionswas published in 2016 with Anstruther Press. Website can be found at

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