A pity the selfsame vehicle that spirits me away from factories of tedium should likewise serve to drag me backwards into panic, or that panic should erect massive factories of its own, their virulent pollutants havocking loved waterways, frothing all the reed- fringed margins acid pink and gathering in the shell and soft tissues of the snails unknowingly in danger as they inch up stems. Through the bulkhead door I can hear their spirals plunk into the sluggish south- bound current and dissolve therein with such brutal regularity their dying has given rise to the custom of measuring time here in a unit known as the snailsdeath. The snailsdeath refers to the average length of time, about 43 seconds, elapsing between the loss of the first snail to toxic waters and the loss of the next, a value equivalent to the pause between swallows in a human throat, while the adverb “here” refers to my person and all its outskirts, beginning on the so-called cellular level extending more or less undaunted all the way down to the vale at the foot of the bed. I often fear I’ll wake to find you waiting there and won’t know how to speak on the subject of my production, or rather my woeful lack thereof, but in your absence, once again, I will begin drafting apologies in a language ineffectual as doves. 
—from “Globus Hystericus” by Timothy Donnelly

A pity the selfsame vehicle that spirits me away from 
factories of tedium should likewise serve to drag 
me backwards into panic, or that panic should erect 

massive factories of its own, their virulent pollutants 
havocking loved waterways, frothing all the reed- 
fringed margins acid pink and gathering in the shell 

and soft tissues of the snails unknowingly in danger 
as they inch up stems. Through the bulkhead door 
I can hear their spirals plunk into the sluggish south- 

bound current and dissolve therein with such brutal 
regularity their dying has given rise to the custom 
of measuring time here in a unit known as the snailsdeath. 

The snailsdeath refers to the average length of time, 
about 43 seconds, elapsing between the loss of the first 
snail to toxic waters and the loss of the next, a value 

equivalent to the pause between swallows in a human 
throat, while the adverb “here” refers to my person 
and all its outskirts, beginning on the so-called cellular 

level extending more or less undaunted all the way down 
to the vale at the foot of the bed. I often fear I’ll wake 
to find you waiting there and won’t know how to speak 

on the subject of my production, or rather my woeful 
lack thereof, but in your absence, once again, I will begin 
drafting apologies in a language ineffectual as doves. 

from “Globus Hystericus” by Timothy Donnelly

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