This Contract is Complete

By Kyle Norwood

Featured Art: Crescent Moon from Album of Paintings by the Venerable Zeshin by Shibata Zeshin 柴田 是真

“This contract,” this machine with knobs
to be pulled, buttons to be pushed, inexorable gears
leading from
A to B, but so easily sabotaged,
mucked up by a fallen coin or shirtsleeve or
dangled lock of hair caught in the works


“is complete,” encompasses entirely the world
of its transaction, has an inside but no outside,
everything else is forever foreign and beneath notice
in the penumbra of this dazzling light,

“and all promises, representations, understandings,
and agreements,” theories, whispered assurances,
messages in code, three-martini lunchtime conversations,
husky-voiced proposals to meet in back of the bank by moonlight,

“have been expressed herein, and all prior negotiations

and agreements are merged herein,” forgotten, a haze,
only this document remembers, everything else is indistinct.
Nonetheless,
“no change, modification, or assignment hereof”
shall surprise the sociologists, or Erda the earth-spirit
who knows how all things end,

and no contract, no music or poem worth the paper,
no valedictory address or deathbed testament,
no blood sacrifices, voodoo rituals, fire sales,
or promises spoken out of a burning bush,
no house finch spilling its enthusiasm into the gutters,
no final snow covering the earth like a last sigh,

“shall be binding against the Company unless in writing
and signed by one of its officers.”


Kyle Norwood is the winner of the 2014 Morton Marr Poetry Prize from Southwest Review. His science-fiction story-poem “Cyrano” appears online in Devilfish Review. His poems have also recently appeared in Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Lake (U.K.), Light, Right Hand Pointing, and the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age. He lives in Los Angeles, where he earned a doctorate in English
at UCLA.

Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015

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