“Still Lifes”



for desertification.



uncontrollable process

processed through,

Like a cliff face which just now buckled.


But always unfinished!

Agnes Martin
The Islands, 1979
Oil and graphite on canvas 72 x 72 in.
Courtesy of the Artist

     Even the green ones

Wilt some.



     Don’t speak

They mouth.

     They eye.

Out of what vengeance?



     Glass bloom—


     Down into itself



Charles Ethan Porter
Mountain Laurel, 1888
Oil on canvas 20 x 24 1/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

  1. Evidence.
  2. Soil fertilizer and hardy bulb.
  3. Bric-à-brac, origin unknown.
  4. Reads “The Rings of Saturn.”
  5. Remains of cherry pie.
  6. $.55, no origin.
  7. Dry spring, calendula.
  8. Fig. 3. w/ cigarillos.
  9. Exterior: debris.
  10. Kitchen TV, paused: Channel 03
  11. Debris (detail.)
  12. London, night.
  13. Contraband.
  14. Reads: “Postponed breakfast til [sic] 12”.
  15. Dry sprigs, unknown origin.
  16. Pencil drawings (tornado, cube, etc.)
  17. Digital scale.
  18. [Illegible]ICE DAY!
  19. Opaque unbranded bar soap.
  20. Ductwork.
  21. Batteries x4.
  22. $2.30.
  23. Fig. 4, Evidence.
  24. Radiator, matte white, Trane brand.
  25. Mastercard Diamond.
  26. Acetylene torch (disassembled).
  27. Orange plastic cup; sprigs of calendula.
  28. Mass of string x3.
  29. Carpenter’s square, unbranded.
  30. Debris, wood shavings, dust.
  31. Dust, etc.
  32. Remote control, site of verifiable fingerprint.
  33. Lip balm, cinnamon.
  34. Evidence, out of sight.
  35. Business card, reads: “Pip’s Baked Goods”.
  36. Debris, soil.
  37. Vermiculite (dispersed with soil).
  38. Egg.
  39. American Express Vista credit card.
  40. Chemicals (source unknown).
  41. Data.
  42. Eggshells.

Wolfgang Tillmans
Nachtstilleben (Night Still Life), 2013
Chromogenic print 53 1/8 × 6 ft. 7 3/4 in.

Jack Kohler is a poet and translator from Columbia, Missouri. After graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in spring 2020, he is now a freelance writer and critic in St. Louis. During the pandemic he began building a chicken coop.