Binge Watching Winter on Mute / Victoria Nordlund


Binge Watching Winter on Mute

poems by

Victoria Nordlund

ISBN: 978-1-59948-740-3, 48 pages, $12 (+ shipping)

Release Date:  June 4, 2019


Victoria Nordlund teaches creative writing at Rockville High School and is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. She is a 2018 Best of the Net Nominee and the 2016 NEATE Poet of the Year whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Coffin Bell, Gone Lawn, Ghost Proposal, Amaryllis Poetry, Philosophical Idiot, and other journals. She lives in Glastonbury, Connecticut with her husband, three children, and poodle.

In this satisfying debut collection, Nordlund establishes herself as a terrific new voice in poetry. At times deliciously macabre–you’re almost afraid to find out what strange science she’s been reading now–the poems also explore the rocky terrain of grief. While the poems are serious, even dark at times, she finds humor in unlikely places. With details that flash, she peels the skin off the mundane to reveal the truths lurking beneath, or inside. ~Steve Straight

In this stunning collection of poems, Nordlund is constantly deconstructing and reconstructing realities she presents with deceptive ease. Accessible yet startling both in subject and style, her poetry ushers forth a new, acute way looking at and living in the world. From parasitic invasion, to elemental decomposition, to a seamless blending of past, present and future, and the revealing folds of grief, these poems sing with a visceral beauty that is as sharp as an autopsy knife. The words that come to mind are genuine, fresh, direct, smart, unsparing, and real. This is the kind of collection that makes new readers fall in love with poetry and reminds old readers why it’s worthwhile it to make the trip back again and again. Outstanding! ~Barbara P. Greenbaum

How to Write Poetry

Maceration is a form of controlled putrefaction, a stage of decomposition in which the proteins of the body’s cells are broken down and consumed by bacteria in anaerobic conditions.

To prepare for this decomposition
peel off the skin,
expose the muscle and fat,
and separate the organs from the body.
Don’t worry, this does not need to be neat.
You will still have excess tissue affixed to the carcass.

Remove eyeballs and ears
because some structures are brittle.
Store severed parts in nylon panty hose for easy identification.
Remember to keep the tongue in place.

This process generates a strong stench.
Therefore, use a closed container in a ventilated area.
Maintain a constant temperature for optimal results.
Wear a respirator when you switch out
maceration baths and pull out tough material.

Sometimes the degradation of tissue will stall
for even those well-versed in this preparation.

Be patient.
Proper incubation is required.

Cut any additional flesh.
Make sure to use gloves
and handle the cartilage with care.
It is likely some bits of vertebrae
may still be attached.
Soak until your water is clear.

Gather the bones and let them dry.
Resist the urge to boil or bleach.
It will damage the remains.



You’re Never Fully Dressed


This Halloween
I’m going as Adult Orphan.
I had no choice.
This garb shipped to me
without notice
and with no returns–

You might be picturing
the wide smile
and cute red dress that Annie
wore when she clutched Sandy
and Daddy Warbucks
as she sang Tomorrow.

Or, perhaps a child-size
pinafore with patches,
tiny broom included.
Suggested props:
handkerchief over blond pigtails with a
gritty twinkle in eye.

But I am stuck dragging
this bitch of a costume
this ill-fitting XXL
black burlap bag of grief
that hangs over my bones.

This outfit didn’t come
with pockets to hold my loss,
it scratches me raw and
I keep tripping over my
unraveling fabric
as the gaping holes
offer no protection
from these October nights I wish
I could sleep through.

I did try embroidering
I am fine.
Doing great.
Fucking Dandy.
along with assorted fond memory appliqués
to the front of the garment
so at least everyone else
will feel comforted.

This orphan also comes complete
with swollen eyes, ashen skin,
red gums and shedding hair–
My appetite that used to crave
the bite-size treats
behind every door
has abandoned me too.

I just wish I could be a daughter.

But this year,
It’s the hard-knock life for me–
Come what may
Orphan won’t come off tomorrow:
It has stitched and stapled into my skin,
grafted its fibers in the damage,
and developed its own vessels to carry
the blood away from my heart.





My daughter shuffles through her stack of drawings from Spring semester.
Says she doesn’t really know what they mean.
A woman pulls her flesh over her head like a sweater.
A man-balloon flies over puzzle pieces that don’t fit.
A toddler smokes a cigar in an armchair.
Life will take everything until you do what it says is scrawled under a burnt-orange tree with hands.
“This is my favorite,” she says.
I note her chipped green nail polish
and faded henna tattoo.
And as she sprawls out on my bed, I wonder when she showered last.
She tells me she reminds her digital art professor of Cyriak.
Because he is disturbing.
“You or your art?”
And we both laugh and she shares
she hated her geology class but rocks are really wise though.
She puts on a bunny costume she bought for her roommate’s extra-large boyfriend Dante who doesn’t go to college or to work.
Tells me she wishes she got one for herself.
Tells me she hasn’t signed up for her classes yet.
Doesn’t know what she wants to take.
But she did acquire a purple ukulele so she can jam.
“This is so cool,” she says,
as she thrusts her iPhone in front of my face.
And I am forced to view a time-lapsed YouTube clip
of a fungus boring its ways through an ant’s body,
infiltrating its mind, moving the creature against its will.
Shows me a picture of this girl’s huge stick-and-poke of a bear.
Not your average one. “Must’ve hurt,” she says.
Adds that she tattooed a guy’s thigh for fifty bucks.
Informs me that she doesn’t want to dye her hair violet anymore
because everyone else does that now.
Shows me pictures of a guy that she washes pots with at 7AM in her dining hall.
He is not her boyfriend.
And she tells me about a dream she had last night
of clinging to a rope swing as she watched a cat smoke.
She seeks my interpretation.
I tell her I can’t make sense of any of it
as she puts on a flannel robe that belonged to her friend Marie’s grandfather.
“It’s all good ‘cause he’s not dead.”

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