Urban model image by Brian Rex

Architecture / Place / Poetry

Images by Brian Rex + Poetry by Christine Stewart-Nuñez

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Anatomy, by Brian Rex


We need a new home with good bones,
he said. That first winter, he scanned
every surface with a laser.
Now a surgeon with a keyboard

and mouse, he dissects the model.
We have got a home with good bones,
and I see them as he slices
one way, hallways musculature

and stairs, arteries. Two more
clicks reveal organs: couch, chair, bed.
Our hundred-year-home with good bones
looks like a doll’s house with its front

sheared-off, but its dolls aren’t home, no
pixelated ghosts either, just
sheer pools of color: toy, blanket.
We’re lungs in a home with good bones,

and outside the umbrella spines
of old trees hover as we breathe.






Urban Planning, by Brian Rex

Urban Planning

The project of Lead, South Dakota is to negotiate between the Homestake Mine and the town’s fabric—or, to be cliché, the space between the two. We should build in and over and under the Open Cut. It will just subside in entropy unless it is made urban.
   – Brian T. Rex

I found you raw, cratered knee mapped
 with scar tissue     of the railroad track variety.
   You’d finished     with the one whose words
   ‘I don’t love you     anymore’ cleft you,
  and you’d left the     one who mined the neglect.
The topographical change       of Lead— twelve-hundred fifty feet—
  breaks across a valley                                and the Open Cut; the pit
 won’t fill with water                                     as once imagined.
   What vision one                                            needs to design in spaces
 between, to bring                                              the open cut astronauts
 can spot from space                                          into conversation with
   the sloped streets                                              and picket fences of that
       mining village.                                               Your model features ghosted
           structures that                                            collapsed into Lead’s maw.
                  Her words,                                        the next one’s guile, and my hand
            on your thigh exist                              simultaneously. My project
                  builds in and over                        and under. No one had ever kissed
                   the skin the oncologist stitched so close to the bone.
                       We work because we question in love. Fingers against cheek,
                                                         it leads where it leads; we make it urban.




Brian Rex is associate professor and founding head of the Department of Architecture at South Dakota State University. His scholarly interest is in “-Grounds”.  His various projects and studies form a constellation of civic work that presumes architecture must work in relationship to the land. See more of his work at

Christine StewartSouth Dakota’s poet laureate, Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author of several books of poetry, including Untrussed (University of New Mexico Press 2016) and Bluewords Greening (Terrapin Books 2016), winner of the 2018 Whirling Prize. A professor of English at South Dakota State University, she released the poetry anthology South Dakota in Poems in October 2020 and looks forward to The Poet & The Architect (Terrapin Books 2021). Find her work at

Header image by Brian Rex. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.