Untitled Mise-en-abyme by Ashley Taylor

The incapacity to name 
is a symptom of disturbance.

Operator / Operator,

I could not join the troupe of myself
observed by the lens.

The windowpane and the landscape 
make it very difficult to focus.

In order to “see”
Myself / beloved

“myself” / which is light, divided
doesn’t hold still, giggling in my jar.

We all have our secret / chart of tastes,
the blue- / green of her melancholy.

            (What is it then?)       
                        down to the root.

I recently hung up those pairs of fish 
to become as crude, as certain as a sign:

a pipe is always and intractably a pipe
a bottle, an iris stalk, 
a body, a face.

And what is more 
is what I call the air,

the process of becoming 
the past, part of what has been 

through a dense fog 
of its own making. 

What I am
cannot be transformed but only repeated,

fills the sight by force
blocks memory| intense immobility.

I am, I don’t know why,
drawing an object through a prism.

The child
says nothing.

I could be “painted” 
captured, delicate, 

what I am
apart from any effigy.

Myself which is 
heavy, motionless.

Stubborn. Give me a neutral, 
anatomic body, a body 

which signifies nothing:
an egg on a naked belly

here laid bare: the naive 
attitude of her hands

                                            passing through
the grain of the voice.


Ashley Taylor [she/her] is a non-binary poet and MFA candidate at Spalding University’s School of Professional and Creative Writing. She curates, promotes, and designs inclusive programming of creative writing and performing arts workshops. She earned an MA in English from the University of Louisville, where she served as graduate editor of Miracle Monocle, writing instructor of college composition and intro to creative writing, and facilitator of UofL’s LGBTQ Creative Writing Group. She is the founder of the Louisville reading series River City Revue, the author of The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (Damaged Goods Press, 2019), and a teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville KY. 

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.