Poem with numbers for no good reason
I can't stop thinking.
About how “hard” it is.
To do the only things that help.
Such as leave the house.
But then there's the problem of visibility.
Which is to say: of leers into dysphoria.
- Swallowed by what guilt paroxysm now for not being what They expect?
- For being exactly what They expected?
a. To have clumsily volleyed a radical email
b. To have delayed feeding any of the channels’ gaping maws
c. To lie in bed dreading while craving a perpetual liminal frisson
d. Obtained by scrolling blankly between tabs in one’s white matter, which is
- C’mon kid buck up we’re in the post-post-doublebooked-clickbait-whaaat?
- If your body won't calm itself down and get back to work They'll give you pills
- The richer and whiter you are the better they get.
- I'm always quietly terrified.
- Unless I've self-medicated it away.
- How much of the post-pre-anthroposcenic post-lapsarian scene’s problem is
- The type of people who write reviews on Yelp are in charge?
- There's so much culture twinkling in our ionized air
- That I want to avail myself of exactly none.
- See I have this terrible allergy.
- To culture.
- I get itchy-throated if there’s money in the air.
- When it gets closer it can smell my fear.
- Money knows we've never worked well together.
- The dead white guys’ green faces grow wrinkled and sweaty in my palms.
- Or, those who call me withdrawn might do well to consider what I’m recoiling
- Or, here is the point where the narrator introduces a conflict to dress the set of
- Or, racing up the subway steps to the opening I know I need to eat something.
- But I can't make myself.
a. That’s a lie. I did once.
b. Everything I consume is an imperialist theft of ice chips from my children's
children's children's smoking dungheap LOL.
- I haven’t taken a cab for a year and a half.
- Compare your mental maps of your city with your neighbor's. Neither will be to
scale; your scales will be different. Note these differences.
- My body consumed what with whom on this block before?
- Every balcony we’ve leaned off, chain-smoking.
- Is the same curated balcony.
- Is the emotion of balcony.
- Body buffeted on the street. Office-tower hotel-room observation-deck swaying
- Mesh stairwells in school slapped by kids’ palms between classes, the building
rattling like a cage.
- Her body shuddering.
- Between groups in the hospital we’d all exhale our cigarettes simultaneously into
a diaphanous cloud.
- Something about this ritual helped us go back inside.
- Did your school pipeline to a college or a prison? If college, ag or Ivy?
- Streets sinking into alleyways; staircases melding
- AP: I rode my bike through you seven times
- I wanted the centuries to stop slamming through me.
- River-smell vs. lake-smell.
- Sun on drying grass.
- CR: Our stone wall was built by slaves and my bones, my bones are paid for.
- But then... in all my unrelenting rumination there’s this constant reckoning.
- I reckon I'm lucky to know you.
- To have perambulated down a park built on a rail line together.
- The curated emotion of Sunday afternoon.
- Mutual lean toward the companion’s torso: the opening before an opening.
- Mutual assurance our basic desires would be met: bar materializes near gallery.
- Albeit intrinsically bearing some minimally objectionable element.
- The marked presence of the paralysis of thirty omg-wrong-bar-choices is to our
bar being low
- As the unremarkable absence of fear of being detained due to our race is to
a. Countless times x block scrolls by unnoticed until y event occurs there at which
point you think of y forevermore on x.
b. My maps used to be of grocery stores.
c. Other places inscribed themselves on top: places in which I’ve leaned toward
friends; performed wage labor; attended literary events; cultural institutions; bars
with generous happy hours.
d. It doesn’t take much to exhume wan yellow aisles.
e. I assume the stable, rich and/or non-hermetic have gyms and retail and
f. In the York F-train station I always think of Emily in a green pantsuit.
g. Slave bones under the FiDi.
- The relief of the gallery materializing unmistakably
- Evening’s halogened post-holocene light slotting into place.
- Imperceptible click as my internal gears are manipulated by a crepey hand.
- What you’re working on isn’t research, it’s brunch.
- You’ve weaponized social capital into a tax deduction regardless.
- Our ancestor’s faces are flying through our faces regardless.
- The bones in my bones did what to the bones in your bones?
- The gold cord and the syrup light pulling.
- Dark door in the head. Blue door in the
- Heart. Two ropes, valves.
- Four chambers, the corners of the room tumbled, clogged, highways pointing
four directions, granite heads of white dudes jutting above the badlands. Fault
line. Streamline. Pipeline. “Access.”
- Two blocks dopplering, vertiginous. Three delis.
- And where would we be without the long scythe of history.
- The name in my name naming the grasses.
- I catch myself thinking of my meadow as mine. I catch myself thinking of my
body as mine. The bones in my bones trampling over the prairie.
- We’re the beginning and end of the “real” story: we get ravished, wash their
- As she runs she looks back & as the pursuer’s footsteps slow she picks a door.
- As she leaves the junk-shop she’d never seen, the lintel seals behind her &
- Cottonwood bolls float through the meadow all afternoon.
- Overlay a map of the Middle Passage with a map of modern refugee migration
- Anne reminds me my body was most profitable when it was ill.
- To others, not me.
- AD:“When it comes to the human body, everything can be trafficked. Migrants are
a product in a system that breaks them down into lucrative parts.”
- The eye is the lamp of the body.
- Or, I can’t quite align. I go all blurry.
- Or, I can’t replicate the period style well enough to be a successful poet because
the insurrection breaks through.
- Or, I only like art that is earnest and floridly disturbed.
- Or, I only like art that is deliberately impossible to hang above a couch.
- Or, fuck white-dude minimalism, most of DIA Beacon, and new broet poems
perpetually being “worked on” with new women perpetually asleep in said
broet’s bed due to broet prowess captioned with a litter of hashtags.
- Or, relief is an emotion that is characterized by a sudden absence of a differing
So… perhaps this morning’s relief explains my hunger, but not quite.
Allyson orders food based on which word she wants to say most.
- My rapist’s name in my mouth.
I can’t remember anything Sarah had been seizing the way she was found wedged between her bookshelf
and her bed.
- My wanting to walk out into the desert with a dog at sunrise each morning is to
colonialism as my wanting to walk out onto the ice to die alone is to whaaaat?
- Mount Rushmore is carved from feldspar, quartz, muscovite, and biotite.
- The feeling of being intentionally duplicitous in one’s own failure.
- The facial twitch when one has finally discerned the inner machinations of the
empire then pulls back to historicize and sees it’s one tentacle.
- One problem is dovish austerity under surveillance.
- A second problem is groveling.
- A third problem is sour mash compressed in my lungs.
- A fourth problem is my lungs won’t stop flickering on and off.
- Fifth like the sun, or a fine mist of sequins, or a hive swarming, or a firecracker.
- Sixth these images are just neuronal sequences humans like.
- Seventh how to sell my sequences as cyphers for my emotions.
For eleven years I’ve been physically comforted by the sensation of throwing up. Ice cream because it’s still cold.
- That emotion’s a cypher for wanting to exude: to not be a receptacle. I can’t
remember not knowing that I’m the half that gets cut into. The question is who’s
doing the cutting.
- My trauma makes Poetry’s small eyes light like beacons.
- By which I mean Poetry requires a comprehensible account of what was done
- Oppositional rhetoricians are squeezing a plastic jewel for color.
- I am meant to exude an accurate depiction of how I am a receptacle
- They’ve the means to cultivate their “empathy.”
- MLK said there was no advance with freedom. Whiteness is a debt: we live in a
house we didn’t pay for, didn’t build.
- The mean of compressing one’s personal history into a saleable form of I’m
from list poems is to a major first book prize as a Rothko is to a psychiatrist’s
- By which I mean they’re savagely boring.
- To upload and compulsively curate one’s oppression in order to become
“relevant” is to publicly erecting a saleable brand
- Is to that rain-while-going-over-a-bridge feeling how?
- Powerpoint clicking past a dead face.
- The .gif shudders inside the shut screen.
- Ghosts trail down the hallway in blue squares.
- Baby, can I click my moon across your sky?
- Cue dream interlude in which the question is “Can I tone down my ‘diversity’
enough to withstand tokenization at the rooftop BBQ?”
- Dream where in the back of the restaurant downstairs, a man’s cutting down
half a cow.
- Small-talk questions such as where I went to college or high school as an
exercise in breaking as little social convention as possible.
a. Something vague
b. If more questions, vague details
c. Derail ASAP
d. Turn question on asker
e. Is your world-view so narrow that my “having a GED” is surprising and
f. What does this indicate about your expectations of who belongs on this
g. Exactly why aren’t “enough POC submitting” to your lit journal?
- AB: Subjectivity will be convulsive. The earth bucks under us. I’m not unflinching.
I’m flinching. All day in my body the feeling of a convulsion: a long shudder, a tic
under my eye. The feeling of tantrum: wanting to shake and wanting to hit
someone and knowing it will do no good. Knowing that it will happen again.
That I can’t stop it from happening.
- Learning to fall off balance beams in self-defense.
- [ ]
- Dream where Natalie made the cookies, burger patties, and guacamole while I
made salad, cleared bottles, did dishes.
a. Dream where the wrong words edge in, smoking.
b. Dream where the man with the meat has wiped the counter, twirled the
meat bits in Saran Wrap, packed them in a fridge, wiped the counter
again, flicked the light off.
c. Some dude's fast-food French fries are the most popular item. Two or
three times he's swept his eyes over me looking for his friend.
d. Dream with water sweeping back and forth over the windshield.
e. Dream where I’m the pillar of salt, the rabbit bleeding in snow, the
broken vase for a torso, etc.
f. Dream where I ride off into a sunset perpetually.
g. Dream where one says says waking life is a dream in order to surrealize it
h. Nubbin of burger caught slick between teeth. Splinters. Bonespurs.
i. The mean of my childhood dream-stories: watching families eat dinner
behind bay windows. The feeling of front-lawn-observer.
j. What if I chose to not come in and eat?
k. The cow’s in lumps in a trashcan now, mostly.
- When her mom found her it was raining. There was very little blood.
- I’m not sad. I’m tired.
- I don’t know when the notion of retrieving a mutable futurity started to slip
away, but I know it’s gone.
- But. In the meantime, we have peaches, gin, blue windowsills, roads that lead
- We go on, we go on. We have to.
- When I smell my sweat I feel ashamed.
- Could you repeat what you just said more slowly while thinking about it?
- AB: If your hands are up they'll want them by your side. If they're by your side
they'll want for you to hold them high. This is so they can shoot you better, but
also so you'll grow confused.
- I want to go home.
- I don’t mean where I’m paying to sleep.
- The body’s useless ardor.
- My hands cupped on the kitchen table filled with bad blue light.
- Poetry is this life-rope I’m grasping for all day but can’t surface to.
- I’m stuck underwater in a cave too shabby for Poetry because I’m patiently
laboring to smooth my tangled narrative to saleability then, as it is impossible,
petulantly throwing it down & selfishly dopamine-inducing instead.
- By which I mean my body in public is one tall drink of 30-year-old apology.
- Lolz I’m 32 now.
- The means by which I’m sorry: I’m steering this white thread along
switchbacks, not a Roman road, and I can tell you’re not following.
- You’re keeping your face neutral as you half-listen whilst considering what
you’ll consume once you can bounce.
- What now-closed drugstores & gas stations & diners did you love as a child?
- Someday they’ll tell our kid’s kid’s kids about meadows. We don’t know why
the bees are dying, but we know it’s our fault.
- I’m not having kids.
- When I get something nice most of me wants to figure out how to share it
equitably, but a small part of me wants to drag my prey back to my cave. This
is both the part that “moves up the ladder” and the Gollum under my face. It is
the part that expects it to be taken away; that expects the person to turn on me;
that flinches at any body moving towards mine; that is waiting for the relief of
the Bad Thing starting to happen.
- Sorry, where did you come by your habit of looking down when you talk?
- Sorry, where did you come by your taste for blood?
- Who buoys you & how do you thank them?
- How fast are you sinking?
- Into the sky & who is buried there?
- What in this event is compulsory & what compulsion?
- What in this body is corrosive what explosive?
- If your narrative was made into animal terms, what group of creatures is
- What animals moved how to make the structure where your body is? & what
- The rupture through of the convulsions. The earth bucking under us.
- A seizure, a hiccup, a tic, a tear, a tantrum, a stutter, a flinch.
- Baby, do you hear that rumble at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?
- What do the cracks in your austerity today indicate about yr compulsion,
income, race, social expectations, landscape, habits, etc.?
a. I go through a 2-liter of Diet Mountain Dew every other day.
b. Stole a variety pack of Ferrero Rocher I know I won’t digest from the Duane
Reade by the north end of West 4th after the reading.
c. Four white, four dark, four milk.
d. I’m pretty fucking weird.
e. Articulating the howling fantods doesn’t diminish them.
f. I tantrum & return to the Room obediently.
g. That Duane Reade, open in the first draft, is gone now.
- Billowy blue curtains ooze out of my fingertips.
- Constriction within constriction as a means to break the rules, as a refusal of
- Interrogation: My failure to stretch this white cord to thin umbilical sparkles.
- Admission: To have already upended all your tables in my head.
- Sequence: To assess the breathless fine dust of snow in the morning as a means
to offer my contrition.
- Non sequitur: Run low to ground.
- But: the word rapture, in all its many forms. The word awe.
- CS: This border is not a stitch where nations meet/this border is a wound where
- Permit me to point to the humiliating ruptured stain at the foot of the
basement stairs aka my poetics are fundamentally impermissible.
- n.b. The feeling of being afraid if I don’t adhere to social convention I’ll be
- n.b. My fucks-to-give went to the movies and never came out.
- Don't patronize me. Don’t be polite to me. I’m not playing yr game. I’m not
playing the game. I’m not playing a game.
- I mean none of you specifically! I love all of you!!
- I can't stomach the hegemony of the Event’s small talk group dynamics long
enough to have not sped under & past the trite sentences that reify the sadistic
- This puts me in danger of dying alone.
- In an attention economy, what statement is this poem making? And what
forms of social, financial, and/or cultural capital are you wielding to uphold
hegemony in yr careerist poetics?
- “The” “women” “…”
- My sentence: the befuddled cathexis of having survived the plague. To have
not planned on living. To not know I wouldn’t die first.
a. Sarah, I was supposed to die first.
b. Sarah, when I talk to someone from those days, we ask each other who
c. Kills two birds—we don’t have to add asking who won.
- Who, when mentioned by name from the podium, instinctively covers their
- What is the aspirational fascism of hope?
- Why am I not particularly interested in being visible?
- When I mean I'm sitting here waiting very quietly for you to see me?
- “ ” “ ”
- Where OK perhaps my worst selfishness is I’m happiest alone exuding text?
- How if I didn’t have my brain to obsessively put before everything else I’d be
left with only my body… and we know what that’s worth.
- How there’s this feeling welling up of half that I could cry and
- Half I’d like to tuck your hair behind your ear for you, darling.
- Half faltering selfishness as snatches of English buried in a language I don’t
- Half interior dread expressed as imaginary faces I mildly dislike in a room
where Poetry happens.
- Floating whole under white airport hangar light.
- All day in my body the feeling of swallowing an ice cube whole.
- All day in my body the feeling of a fishbone in my throat.
- All day in my body I break a rule every second by existing. The difference is
which rule and who made it. (See #97-102.)
- WX: I’m afraid of being collected.
Fact is I’m perhaps most afraid of the feeling of having finally gotten caught.
a) Fact is because of my experience with authority (read: institutionalization), I
resist efforts of other people (read: Poetry) to extract my secrets. The major
system of control was tied to an effort to hide my reality alternated with
“confessing” what I did & why; I expect to be punished for writing the truth.
b) Perhaps because my relationship with authority is one of being disbelieved,
of performance, my work is never quite a satisfying explanation—or I’m
implicitly expected to convert a fragmented, quasi-hallucinatory, somatic
experience into a smooth, saleable narrative.
- Fact is I’ve started to glare at catcallers or those committing the equivalent in
the Duane Reade, the bus stop, the promenade, the office, the barricades, the
poetry reading, the waiting room, the living room, the museum, the balcony.
I find myself visibly flinching when referred to with female pronouns but they
never notice. The “best” ones ask me to correct them.
- Or: those who say there are no rules have generally benefited from following
- Just as those who say money doesn’t matter have generally never lived from a
position in which food and shelter are the only tangible concerns.
- Here’s the thing: the new way the despots get richer is to publicly consider the
many someones working their fingers red to prop them where they’ve always
been and where they’ll stay.
- There’s the thing: Poetry is waking up languidly
- In a lemon yellow room, feeling midcentury modern,
- Last night’s Seamless strewn around His sleeping conquest.
- Poetry sometimes remembers to properly credit the designer on Instagram.
- I’m here for Feminist Poetry’s clerical soothing?
- I come bearing my deep affection for humanity, cheap secondhand seams,
and a hermit’s ineffable social cues.
- To unfashionably belabor my point: Anyone who says art matters more than money
- Probably learned the definition of atelier from another white person inside one.
- Anyone who wonders why Hesse dissolved into her toxins
- Has never been relegated to dwelling inside a drop shadow:** the glitter
around the edges of the curators’ screens.
- Still, if disappearing were a viable option
- I’d want some of you off-grid with me. When the big one comes,
- You know where to find me.
- I’ll be watching yr party in the meadow from just behind the tree-line.
- Each morning alarms chorus from other bedrooms at quarter or half-hours
and from inside my body at any loud noise.
- Every morning consciousness’s incessant inquisition: Then what happens?
- This morning’s population is only the numbers of the living.
- Sometimes I imagine the static we hear is confusion in the spirit world,
because the dead have to press closer and closer together.
- There are fifteen dead people for every living person. By 2098 dead Facebook
users will outnumber living Facebook users.
- In my head I run through all the exits at once.
- A partial list of this morning’s convulsions reads thusly:
a. The violence of depositing twelve checks for tiny amounts at a credit
union I walk a mile to on my way to work.
b. After waiting in line after a mid-sixties Black woman who argues about
the new $2 NYCHA rent fee.
c. I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.
d. I don’t have a safety net.
e. Every food I unwrap has a warning printed on it.
f. The kinds of lights that give us headaches grow our “fresh” food.
- OK where is your bank and when did a delivery person last come to your door
and what dots are on your mental map of sustenance acquisition? Refer to #161.
- If I spin the Poetry-thread around me into a cocoon can I be boiled inside it
- When you get to the palace, touch the wall and turn around.
- If you lose count, start again from the beginning.
- ND: What is a wall except something to be shoved against?
- Growing up, there was a church at each pueblo because conquest.
- A sky like a poem like a dream: betrayed in the telling.
- A sky mistaken for a girl mistaken for a cocoon mistaken for a shroud mistaken
for a car crash mistaken for a set of pan pipes slowly lilting Hotel California
mistaken for a sleeping face mistaken for an easy lay mistaken for pretending to
stay asleep so as to get more sleep & not provoke him to hold you down & flip
you over & go again like the last friend mistaken for a place to crash mistaken
for surely a dream mistaken for the fuzz around a light-bulb mistaken for a
head-light approaching mistaken for a tunnel mistaken for an elevator pitch
mistaken for someone who is indeed certainly ready for this/bringing it/sir yes sir.
a. He knew I was awake because he covered my mouth as he came.
b. After, he gave me a ride to the airport.
c. I thanked him.
d. I wish I could say I was surprised.
e. My silence was harm reduction, not acquiescence. Every cell in me
wanted to escape so I forced myself to leave as it was happening while I
forced myself to make the scene as short as possible then I snipped the
thread of that night out and left it in the room.
f. “I’m leaving soon I’m leaving soon I’m leaving soon.”
g. [redacted] said her ex was a choker and I nodded and we kept talking.
h. The threads of the rooms keep clawing in.
i. When I did sex work I preferred when they were dominant because the façade
that my agency was a consideration heightened the cognitive dissonance and
increased my labor.
j. “You can leave soon I promise. This won’t take much of your time.”
k. How much time attempting to prevent intrusion do you spend each day?
l. Every time I’m in public a man informs me of something about myself.
m. In case I need a reminder.
n. Natalie’s stalker gave her an apology note for stalking her.
o. By hand-delivering it to the bar where she’d host a reading that night.
- I can’t remember if our mutual revelation was via email or text or gchat or
- Re: social media—I despise it, but when I look away I’m afraid it will be gone
when I look back.
- I mean I will be gone.
- The banality of violence.
- Hold your breath underwater.
- Hold your breath as you check your balance.
- To have yelped when the doorbell rang.
- To have stood on a beach and looked at the waves crashing.
- And for once failed to muster a holy precise any-emotion-at-all.
- Or, the feeling I’m always seeking is that of being so numb I can’t feel what’s
happening. I lock the door inside the door inside my face.
- I invented a system to replace the system that had broken me and then I broke it.
- One question I have is
- How quietly can you play the stuck clock of history? (CDW)
- One answer I have is the feeling of wanting to implode.
- One answer is my anarchic silk-spinner’s failure to smoothly exude
- Finely calibrated tiered poems with trending flourishes
- An array of guns glittering in a drawer
- My feminized complicity cat-sits at a charming dining room table & stoidly
gulps three issues of [redacted].
- As the studious means to be as absorbent as a sea sponge to their mastery.
- Poetry is a shit-ton of plastic approaching on a conveyor belt.
- As viewed by a shit-ton of sleepy grifting inspectors.
- One definition of penetrable: I listen very closely, nodding.
- Another: I narrow my winged eyeliner to slits to decipher what brandidentity/
soulscrap/laborchunk can most accurately be volleyed towards Culturemoney
- To be justifiably refused entry by the bouncer again in favor of the more
deserving (read: pliant) narrative
I can only stomach faltering my glitched presence through their set once a
Swapped identity politics waver awkwardly in the air. Cue being “too tired” to wait through the twenty minutes of pleasantries until
the after-thing sorry. Walk two to three train stops. Get on train.
- Body against mattress; organs pressed in skin; ceiling; subfloor; linoleum,
another body in bed.
- All the dead under my city.
- The way to succeed is to appear alert enough that they’ll want to hang you
- On their wall.
- My poetics are a milky lopped off part of my body on a tray
- Is it slender & white enough?
- Sorry that fine-downed hair under their lamplight.
- Sorry is the lanugo infants and anorexics get.
If you want to know what I really think about publishing I’ll say this much: The difference between a shotgun in the face and a handgun in the stomach
isn’t much unless a few are vaguely waving at you.
I need a first book like I need a gun to the whaaat?
- Or, that fall down before it comes down on you is both my earnest urge.
- And the position I was conditioned to swallow.
- The many feminine forms of self-sabotage.
- The numbers for no good reason.
- The sweeping line you remember is the title.
- Like poplars shaking just so against the horizon.
- The weather colluding with you for once.
- Chainsaw purring in your hand.
- Spoon scraping the bottom of the ice cream tub.
- Ice cream going backwards hardening.
- Blood back into veins. My face clicking back through years.
- That retrograde scroll at the end of the poem broets love at the end hardening.
- Into my face before it hardened into my face.
- As is to dismay clicking into my black neighbors’ eyes at my presence.
- Chain-smoking and walking under the condo mushrooming up.
- New tumor as neighborhood implodes.
- Both body and backdrop suspended in the eerily ambient February air.
- The feeling of a poem about to descend.
- Don't lose it take it take it all.
- The urge to leave your childhood city burning in your wake is to gentrification as…
- My favorite physical thing about Allyson: the tiny wispy hairs curling around
- It’s nice to know someone long enough to know the old-old-old hair. Alexis’s
blonde dye brassed like aspens, washed pink, darkened.
- This morning the sky at sunset is the same lavender color it was at sunrise.
- To walk Eileen’s dog in Marfa and NYC. To know the dog is different here. More
frightened. More angry. To pull her toward the river.
- My favorite thing about you is [ ].
- Run your finger over your mouth.
- Walk out into your street. Note the position of the sun.
a. Skyscrapers are clumping up in my vertebrae.
b. Imperialism and I keep forgetting to return what we “borrowed;” I’ll take
the fall as a good “woman" does.
c. Imperialism, I can’t tell if I’m kidding or not.
d. I remember the future and in it there were people like lakes.
e. I can’t remember the last time my laughter wasn’t nervous.
f. Imperialism, I’m sorry I took so long to check my email. Something
inside me was busy choking on its grubby tail.
g. I mean this wanting in me is irrevocably bent on self-destruction
h. Another bleach-white wanting is bitter about that.
i. I want a perfectly ripe avocado and resolution and to learn the ukulele.
j. I want everything to hold its breath for one fucking second.
k. We’re never going to buy a house in Vermont, are we?
l. This knowing pangs, but I continue to reply wistfully.
m. I can’t quite align.
n. I’m scared nobody will bury me.
o. I want to have sex while smoking while taking a shot while doing a line.
p. I’m aware it’s killing me.
q. Sometimes I want it to hurry up.
r. My grandmother’s face is flying through my face.
s. She was a bitch to my mom.
t. In my yard, a cute dog is biting a sparrow’s wing off.
u. Imperialism I’m sitting here loving the sunshine and it’s gonna kill us.
v. Here I am loving y’all so much and you are the worst.
- Our collective twilight, albeit impending, is exquisite, you know? It’s the best
light of day.
- Dollar store plastic suddenly faceted, lit from within. Lit windows domestic
- Our legs churn air and money. A white cloud of moths, roiling.
- All of us lit candles swimming in dark jars of honey.
- Not everything is decaying faster than we can love it.
**I’m poetry’s modern illusion of three dimensionality created by Microsoft?
*I’m from an intractable compression I left
the moment I could. Sarah there's all this industry
slamming through me. Sarah I don’t want to be
industrious. Sarah I'm from a glittering ruin
sucked upward. I’m from a dialogist’s knees bleeding
up the stairs of the miracle. Sarah I'm from the industrial ruins
of the prairie. I'm from a puff
of smoke. Sarah this room in me
won't stay locked. Have you ever been sad
to come to? Sarah the first hour
awake’s worst. Sarah I’m not scared
of dying. Sarah I'm scared to leave
my apartment. I'm from a place with no names
in English and none what they were first
named. From the cool shadow of a mountain
named for blood. Swallowed thin air
above the tree line. Sarah a man cut a cave
in the mountain. I sat in it. Sarah it started
by tearing. I’m from a brutalist cinderblock
room bathed in institutional light and the smell
of industry: vatted food & bleach. Sarah I feel avocado
& burnt orange pain and I’m pretty sure
the rest of this room has trauma sourced from
celadon & brushed metal. I’m from next door to the end
of the line & the slumped postures of the workers
who live there, but not them. A generation from driving
a gas truck. I'm from displacing
a displaced people. I’m from a ghost rat ship
floating in international waters. I made hurricane
season come a month earlier. Sarah once all our fluids
were measured, required, recorded & there was an argument
about salt on the reg. Two ambulances & a drive South long as a needle
of light on riverwater. Sarah Caitlin’s alive & in Denver &
oh it’s the same signal flashing red & we all turn left
towards the picket fence they were nudging us toward.
I’m from confusing two languages when first learning
to speak, then English winning. Sarah I can’t improve
my Spanish. Sarah I’m starting to wonder
if there are other things I was forgot. Sarah I erased
faces & years entirely. Sarah I don’t think
about those years except in terms of my immature
complicity, my grandiose juvenilia. Sarah your face
keeps swimming back. Sarah I'm an offer
you can't refuse Sarah. I’m. An offer
you can’t. Resist. Sarah they’re not not buying
what I’m selling. Sarah I’m not buying
into this. I shouldn’t be surprised at how
hard it is to get power if one refuses to comprise
of a new platform for the powerful. Sarah my support’s not
covers or photos or hashtags or the community
of the false. Sarah if I care deeply about you
I won’t tell the Internet. Sarah it’s so striking
how the links shimmer. Sarah o how lovely
the chains. Sarah I’m going to rust into oblivion. Sarah I’m tired
I’m tired I’m tired of feeling everything
so palpably. Palpable trepidation palpable sunset
palpable screens lapping. Sarah why’s murk
so palpable? O the unsaid fronds turn red-brown
and then I keep not saying them until they fall off
the side of the world palpably. Sarah I’m sorry
for the late reply. Sarah when the water runs clear
I’m scared there’s still some stuck to the sides
of the pitcher I made of me. Sarah my battery
is getting to where I shouldn’t be
typing. Sarah the machinery webbing my
undercarriage has been declared a lemon. I swallow
this half-red half-white feeling upon consciousness
before thought. When dread’s not
subsumed yet. Sarah I’m curtains billowing into an alley
where clotheslines crisscross. Sarah I’m scraping dry
dirt under my nails. A caged rat will press and press
a lever for red pings. Sarah there is an inherent hierarchy
in my demanding your attention. I can’t change this,
but I’m fond of you. Sarah I’m side-eyeing the dude
at the mic. Sarah I’m all of us glancing
at the sky & flinching. Sarah I got this
lucky thing. Sarah the hardest part is the palpable
flicker in my friends’ faces of mental
re-categorization: a cloud passing over
a desert: the social sky recalibrating palpably.
Sarah success or not I’m content now,
mostly. Sarah I want to be contented but
not produced. Sarah I’m contentious. Sarah
I’m a riptide. Sarah I’m a room
I can’t walk into. My amor fati
reels at the juncture of transfer. Open mouth, shut mouth,
apologize, leave. Sarah I steel myself & walk into the room
where I know the bad thing will happen. I don’t want to book
a buying. Sarah I’m an ugly filter. Sarah I
keep throwing my career under the bus. Sarah
I’ve got this communist sway
toward societal crucifixion. Sarah
on a crowded train my instinct was to step into
the bad spot where folks were clearly avoiding something—
no visible body liquids! Sarah the wrong was a large man
in full psychotic thrall or really high swinging and rubbing & I pressed
the strangers back. Sarah I’ll take one for the team. Sarah it’s
showtime ladies and gentlemen. Sarah I’m not
a box to check. Sarah there’s this monastic
purgatorial font of paper splayed all high-
thread-count over Instagram. My bedsheets
have threadbare ink-stains. Sarah the needle
keeps skipping. Sarah last week on the subway
the car stopped & the lights flickered & I looked up—
wedged in the corner, naturally—& noticed two large men
in my car & the next car empty. I flinched
& felt annoyed at my flinch & the car rolled again. Nothing
happened. Nothing happened. Sarah I keep gasping.
Nina Puro's writing is in Guernica, Jubilat, the PEN/America Poetry
Series, & others. Each Tree Could Hold a Noose or a House, winner
of the 2017 New Issues Poetry Prize, will be published in 2018; a
chapbook called Elegy with Pilot Light will be published this fall by
Argos Books. They are a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative
and recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Syracuse
University (MFA, 2012), Deming Fund, Saltonstall Foundation, & others.
Published November 2017.