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A Poem by Isabella Costa

I look for you

in a dirty pile

of cctv tapes.


the shop owner testifies:

you haven’t been around

at all lately.


I’d hoped we’d go

together, but I knew

you missed home.


replay—I wonder

why I see me

in beeping blues.


rejoice—I weep

as my image wheels

itself in prayer.


repent—I witness

the weight of zero-g.

I am alone






systems overlapping

rotten to the core. I clutch

my virtual heart


hopelessly devoted

to a simulation. I watch

the end of


the world unfold

from an alien screen. I bask

in the warmth


of my own surveillance.

A Statement by Isabella Costa on her process

As a child, attending Catholic mass was always an eerie experience. The attire, the
choir, the watchful eyes of statues. The Priest spoke of love in a dead language.
Sacred images walked amongst commoners. Life followed death. As an adult,
witnessing such feigned bliss is like staring at a screen for too long. Swaying lights,
blurring edges: you’re neither here nor there.

Like a video feed, a religious experience is one of repetition and communal
projection. You pray in hopes of being heard, and you film in hopes of being seen.
Like the Priest, I wish to speak of sanctity through the past. In my poem, I wanted to explore this concept of sublime surveillance as a way of reconciling with loss. Loss of faith, of family, of self. I believe in the power of poetry as a medium for harrowing visuals, and my starting point was the idea of someone rummaging through archives almost in a found footage, desktop movie kind of way. It eventually evolved into a preaching structure to emphasize the conflict between holy contemplation and visceral reaction. I focused on alternating them rhythmically, as if the words were being manually rewound. I’m also fascinated by the image of the body as a machine, so this movement of transcendence is depicted as detaching, failing flesh.

As the cycle goes on, the poem shifts. Communion becomes solitude. When you ask
for deliverance, does anyone respond? When you gaze into the camera, does anyone watch? You’re a click away from unspeakable horrors, yet you can’t catch a glimpse of truth. When prayers end, when you look away, the promised world ceases to exist - so you do it all again.

Back to BoundBy: May / June (Edition #3)

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