another poem :: geoffrey g. o’brien

I bypassed all the compromise,
The first ten problems of speech
And the latest, the sharpest, the contest,
Then began, having already fallen,
To rise just less, weaker than
My chore, yours, made else
By othering, by day by day,
The schedules, the routes, task
Whose claim I forgot to throw off,
Rising less but somewhat up anyway
With a kind of strength for having
Done so several times before.
I mean all times so far
Which is the taste of coffee gone
This latest one, and that it sticks
Like nothing else has ever done.
It isn’t a calamity so much
As a disaster that it’s not one.
Things already were real, are
Never just. Did not just get,
Can’t help being so. This
Massive ordinary cloud
Where I surrendered to
Filling out a form in the rain
That doesn’t come or does,
Sent down or kept in overplus
Till the next storm’s approved,
The face notified of its context,
The sequence continuing west
West I said west, turning up
To receive some all,
To celebrate that share of sense
Breaking into day then run
After it as through gray games
I plan to win by losing only
Every time but one, the next
To last or after that, though
What it’s called when it comes
I don’t, I do, pretend to know.

coherence in consequence :: claudia rankine

Imagine them in black, the morning heat losing within this day that floats. And always there is the being, and the not-seeing on their way to—

The days they approach and their sharpest aches will wrap experience until knowledge is translucent, the frost on which they find themselves slipping. Never mind the loose mindless grip of their forms reflected in the eye-watering hues of the surface, these two will survive in their capacity to meet, to hold the other beneath the plummeting, in the depths below each step full of avoidance. What they create will be held up, will resume: the appetite is bigger than joy. indestructible. for never was it independent from who they are. who will be.

Were we ever to arrive at knowing the other as the same pulsing compassion would break the most orthodox heart.

backside :: chika sagawa

translated by Sawako Nakayasu

Night eats color,
Flower bouquets lose their fake ornaments.
Day falls into the leaves like sparkling fish
And struggles, like the lowly mud,
The shapeless dreams and trees
Nurtured outside this shriveled, deridable despair.
And the space that was chopped down
Tickles the weeds there by its feet.
Fingers stained with tar from cigarettes
Caress the writhing darkness.
And then the people move forward.

dearest god of exiles :: chelsea dingman

Black-lunged am I, dear
enemy. If you want the truth. Torn-tongued

beast blasting away. Strings & scotch
tape holding up my skin. I’m sick with

the silver moon, it’s chill
emptying my throat. I moved

away from myself
by winding along your miles. Finding

terror wherever I look
for it. Praying to hear less

of you, I pray for less
weather. In what bodies have I

moved? Whatever hurts
more, I seek. Stick the slim silver

blade in its sheath. I have
no need for a reminder: irrational

sky. Your stupid voice. Define me.
I dare you. Dump me in the river

slithering past. That cold, cold water.
I have no choices, when everywhere I look is

new. And you are everywhere.

spoken for :: li-young lee

I didn’t know I was blue,
until I heard her sing.

I was never aware so much
had been lost
even before I was born.
There was so much to lose
even before I knew
what it meant to choose.

Born blue,
living blue unconfessed, blue
in concealment, I’ve lived all my life
at the plinth
of greater things than me.

Morning is greater
with its firstborn light and birdsong.
Noon is taller, though a moment’s realm.
Evening is ancient and immense, and
night’s storied house more huge.

But I had no idea.
And would have died without a clue,
except she began to sing. And I understood

my soul is a bride enthralled by an unmet groom,
or else the groom wholly spoken for, blue
in ardor, happy in eternal waiting.

I heard her sing and knew
I would never hear the true

name of each thing
until I realized the abysmal
ground of all things. Her singing
touched that ground in me.

Now, dying of my life, everything is made new.
Now, my life is not my life. I have no life
apart from all of life.

And my death is not my death,
but a pillow beneath my head, a rock
propping the window open
to admit the jasmine.

I heard her sing,
and I’m no longer afraid.
Now that I know what she knows, I hope
never to forget
how giant the gone
and immaculate the going.
How much I’ve already lost.
How much I go on losing.
How much I’ve lived
all one blue. O, how much
I go on living.

force visibility :: solmaz sharif

Everywhere we went, I went
in pigtails
no one could see—

ribbon curled
by a scissor’s sharp edge,
the bumping our cars

undertook when hitting
those strips
along the interstate

meant to shake us
awake. Everywhere we went
horses bucking

their riders off,
holstered pistols
or two Frenchies

dancing in black and white
in a torn-apart
living room,

on the big screen
our polite cow faces
lit softly

by New Wave Cinema
I will never
get into. The soft whir

of CONTINUOUS STRIP IMAGERY.
What is fascism?
A student asked me

and can you believe
I couldn’t remember
the definition?

The sonnet,
I said.
I could’ve said this:

our sanctioned twoness.
My COVERT pigtails.
Driving to the cinema

you were yelling
This is not
yelling
you corrected

in the car, a tiny
amphitheater. I will
resolve this
I thought

and through that
RESOLUTION, I will be
a stronger compatriot.

This is fascism.
Dinner party
by dinner party,

waltz by waltz,
weddings ringed
by admirers, by old

couples who will rise
to touch each other
publicly.

In INTERTHEATER TRAFFIC
you were yelling
and beside us, briefly

a sheriff’s retrofitted bus.
Full or empty
was impossible to see.

at night, by marriage: :: lisa ciccarello

Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought one behind the next, like beads.

I wear the answers I am waiting to give. The jewelry becomes heavy as soil.

My long blink is a scream & a yes. There are things I have to say, but they do not yet know the questions they must ask. & a blink is no word; if they misunderstand—

A heart is just soil. Ask anyone. A heartbeat is a blink. A long blink is a scream. A longer blink is sleep. All night I am screaming.