Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Dead Hand Control

by Devon Balwit


If at the time of my death, I shall leave any incomplete manuscripts I hereby direct my executors (i) to destroy such incomplete manuscripts (including, without limitation, all copies thereof in physical, electronic, or any other medium…)
              E. Albee

If at the time of my death, like Albee, I am still writing,
pay no attention to any injunction such as that above,

but scatter far and wide, and in perpetuity, any and all
of my extant darlings. If any playhouse, small

and insignificant as it may be, even located in Oregon,
wants to cast a dark-skinned, dark-haired actress

as one I penned as white, by all means let them.
If they wish to translate my poems into Inuit, Haida, or

Tagalog, offer them coffee so they might work late
into the night and be up again at dawn. Should any poet

ask to engage my work in erasures, centos, or collages,
videos, animations, or AI LSTM recurrent neural networks,

fund them. As soon as is practicable after my death, fire
my works from cannons into sleepy suburban neighborhoods

and over the walls of each ivory tower. [E]nsure
that such materials are not copied, made available

for scholarly or critical review; In fact, grab critics
by the shoulders and sit them down until

they notice me. And should their verdict be grim,
shelter my work away like the seeds vaulted

in Svalbard, Norway, until the climate is more amenable
and they can be replanted for future generations.

This determination shall be final, conclusive and binding
on all parties who have any interest in my estate.


* * * * *

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and three collections out, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, the Aeolian Harp Folio, Red Earth Review, Queen's College Quarterly, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Red Paint Hill, and more.