Rainie Oet’s Hallway Noir Mixtape

Rainie Oet’s poems ‘Caverns’ and ‘I Miss the Slug Ooze of That Summer You Died’ are published in The Poetry Review, Vol 108, No 4, Winter 2018.

Picture walking down a noir-film’s hallway, in and out of slatted window shadows. It’s like you’ve been walking forever. You don’t know how long. If you choose at any time to stop and look outside a window, you see night. It doesn’t make sense. Because when you leave the window and keep walking down the hall, the light streaming through the windows is blinding.

Window 1: Natalie Diaz: ‘It Was the Animals’

This is serious, he said. / You have to understand. / It can save you.

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Window 2: Ariel Chu: ‘Ebenezer, Ebenezer’

“By the time our parents found me, my whole body was covered in pale caps—waving and bobbing in the wind, fat with all the things I’d never said to her.”

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Window 3: Tracy K Smith: ‘My God, It’s Full of Stars’

“We saw to the edge of all there is — / So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.”

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Window 4: Porpentine Charity Heartscape: ‘One-Move Boss’

“The bonus level is calm and grassy. You fall asleep in the field of spinning power-ups, suspended in a blue nowhere sky.”

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Window 5: Douglas Kearney: ‘Darth Vader, King Laios (Fill Out Their Applications as, Across the Lobby, Genghis Khan’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” Ringtone Plays): Fathers of the Year’

“What I did killed me already.”

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Window 6: Walt Whitman: ‘A Child said, What is the grass?’

“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, / And to die is different from what any one supposed, and / luckier.”

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Window 7: Michael Dickman: ‘False Start’

“We hold hands in the middle of the ocean and look just like a painting // His paint has just now started to chip away // He needs to be restored // Carefully, now // My brother”

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Window 8: Mary Oliver: ‘A Summer Day’

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

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Window 9: Wendy Videlock: ‘If You’re Crowish’

“You are putty in my hands // said the wind // to the stone”

 You come to the end of the hallway. A door. You try opening it. But it’s locked.

Rainie Oet is a nonbinary writer. Their work appears in The Yale Review, Shenandoah, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. They are also a game designer and Editor-in-Chief at Salt Hill. Read more at rainieoet.com