Rush Rankin

The ineffable and haunting sublimated
spirituality of words, the misty frisson
  of elusive books, that ancient city
      hidden by vines, excites almost all 
of the intellectual teenagers in Kansas.

Their eager, tattooed, mystic teacher
      bequeaths the class a blackboard
      of hazy erasures no one can read,
      except the cabbalist, who reads
in the dark. A revelation betrays its own 

      functional mystery. As the other
            others others othering
            others, the abyss abysses
      its abyssness the next afternoon
      in a taxi. Each absolute doubt,
            doubting itself, accepts

that rebuttal. Spinoza sent Descartes
a letter whose paper itself refuted
an airy cogito. The postal service
      connects one fact to another
like two people in bed who share

      a dream. I mean, the faux
center of a semiosis, like a state
      employee, refuses to answer
      the phone only when it rings.

Rush Rankin is the author of Pascal’s Other Wager, a collection of poetry, and In Theory, a mediation on literary aesthetics. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Triquarterly, Antioch Review, and other journals. He teaches philosophy at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Originally published:
November 1, 2017


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like


Shipwreck with Spectator

Martha Nussbaum on Our Political Crisis
Feisal G. Mohamed


Bondage and Freedom

Frederick Douglass
David W. Blight


Finding a Literary Inheritance

Four Korean American writers on jeong and the elusiveness of home
Alexander Chee,
Julia Cho,
Susan Choi,
Cathy Park Hong


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.