from Intramural

I drag an archive of icons across the desktop.

I am always drawn to wilderness.

I square the mass of lines, their accumulated, gossiping cells.

My grandmother planned to become an engineer, but got pregnant and left university.

I sift through a bank of encircled content.

I loved being read to every night.

Blunt personhoods, masticated, resembling.

I am very curious about different subjects.

Coy icons winking in pure blue light.

I probably read about 400 pages a week.

Their lines and squares enfleshed by my ones and zeroes.

I take a multivitamin.

Or their own desires evacuated by the rules of this display.

I am a lover.


( )


I assemble numerical sequences to sort the next class of icons.

My mind is a dangerous place when I think too much.

I direct that certain icons be imprinted upon recycled fibers.

I urge the reader to think of something more than bickering and pedantry.

I filter each icon’s documents through my silky, errant fingers.

I can become good at golf if I play consistently.

I track repetition in the margins in blue ink like a fly’s combed hairs.

I want to live in a cabin in the woods in wintertime.

I turn to face the screen and decant each document’s icon into a watery blue folder.

I am an obsessive runner.

Each icon carries coded feelers in its extant lettering.

We see in ourselves what’s brought to mind, do we not?

I relabel each icon tenderly, like a food.

I enjoy learning about economics.


( )


These icons, once fleeting, now named in a grammar.

Mostly I play casual games.

Each icon’s grammar ‘struck from the float forever held in solution.’

I would not call it a passion.

The grammar of each identical in its ‘system to pointing.’

I am not a very avid reader.

Yet each also disassembling into variously boxy and curved bands.

Someday I’d like to buy property in Northern California.

One kind of grammar like real blue light, now smoothed in ordinary genre.

There is no time limit for my growth.

If I were a graphologist, I’d chart calm, clarity, conscientiousness, constancy, cruelty, or curiosity.

Also, I have a talent for woodworking when I apply myself.

Full lower zones for eroticism; upright script for diplomacy; high loops for abstract thought.

She chose to have an abortion.


( )


Or the velvety tones of an interviewer stroking the icons’ grammar.

It was so subtle and understated I didn’t even notice until he was leaving.

A fieldworker narrating objects such as rare metal strung on thread.

Little touches like this are remarkable to me.

Or narrating the shock of the singular.

He wore a light blue button-down shirt, navy slacks and light brown loafers.

The field note as a genre of longing, ‘which is a system, which has feeling.’

He speaks with intention and his face is masculine in a delicate way.

So that this recapitulated grammar might leak into the corridor of my own thought.

I can tell from our interview that he enjoys meeting new people.

Toward a state beyond raw or washed or informed consent.

He speaks with a beautiful accent and is thoughtful and humble in his speech.

A unique state. A like state. A state approaching mine.

The donor lights up.


( )


I try to carve a path of wild grammar down the middle of these systems.

I find clarity in the simple things.

To probe each document’s sense of belonging, a plain tree.

I feel that I was lucky.

To separate each document’s dressings using the metrics of affect.

Another trait that describes me very well is that I am extremely loyal.

I launch certain documents based on their clickiness.

I am suited for formulaic disciplines.

Desire smears and seeps through any material layer.

I am not a religious person.

As the torn packet of goldenseal dusts the countertop.

I would like to lead collective research projects.

Or the bladderwrack tincture stains the cabinet floor.

This is a scary question to answer.


( )


I assess the history of this tangled flesh of wires.

I drink a lot of coffee.

‘Escondido,’ hidden, a name given in 1885 after a long search for water.

I feel that I may have already answered this one elsewhere.

‘Choice’: in French, chois; Old English, cyre; early Middle English, kire, or ‘cure.’

I am not too serious.

‘My work is nearly complete,’ says the monster at the end of the novel.

I need time to myself.

Their flesh draped in copper and plastic after the war.

By 2023 I will have finished my training.

I thought I could metabolize the language, like pressed powder.

I have had several dental x-rays.

I wet my lip as I drain history from the icons.

My shyness disappears once I am on the court.


( )


Note on the text: The form of this sequence (alternating lines of Roman and italic typeface) is inspired by Lisa Robertson’s poem “Face/,” in R’s Boat (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010). In that poem, Robertson edits and rearranges selections of text found in her own literary archive; she refers to this method as “archival gleanings.” Most of the italicized language in “Intramural” is gleaned from an archive of interviews and autobiographical narratives collected by the Sperm Bank of California for anonymous sperm donor profiles. The poem also refers to the Repository for Germinal Choice, a eugenicist sperm bank that operated in Escondido, California, from 1981 to 1999. The repository took sperm samples only from white men, it sold only to white married women, and its founder got rich from inventing Armorlite, an eyeglass lens made of plastic derived from CR-39, which was used to make B-17 fuel tanks during World War II. “My work is nearly complete,” says the monster at the end of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818).



Julia Bloch

Julia Bloch grew up in Northern California and Sydney, Australia. She is the author of three books of poetry: Letters to Kelly Clarkson, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; Valley Fever; and The Sacramento of Desire, forthcoming in 2020 from Sidebrow Books. She is a Pew Fellow in the Arts and lives in Philadelphia.