We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
Slouched so long in the black of the crowd gaping up
From a blot torpor to a flurry striking up
Silver gaps, sodden fields, ice ripple openings
I wanna be whole, now the hot beam comes trundling
Over the headscape, through lawn flowers’ last frothing
I wanna keep together now the beam out-blooms
My body to the socket, my body hoisted up
From the dark to the hollow where the hard light streams.
I remember believing in the tenderfoot sins,
Furtive bends across dim, root-cluttered lawns
Of some diverting crush when I could not contain
Glib oaths I blurted through hedges closing in
While earth’s moss patch surface was sponging underfoot
In the slow thaw, and remembering now the span
I strode home, apart, tracking mud on the carpet,
I keep this shivering body steady as I can.
When so long snarled, when so long I’ve soliloquied
To the stains on the lap of my jeans, neither to strut
Nor lament shreds left fluttering in the void,
I gotta barter with the old antinomies
And reckon in the blot, in the light beyond control
Those paltry trespasses, tasteless gum wads in the gut
Lodged in the stuffy, treaded crannies of the soul
Till I can’t keep my body steady as you need.
Let me barter all my slump retreats, hum-lit nights
Crumbling squares of lemon-cake in corner luncheonettes,
And black oblivion, the monstrous playground tire
I huddled in through recess when I pissed myself—
Oh it was getting stuffy in that rumbling gulf,
But no sir, I’m no wilted claustrophobic quivering
To crumble on the spot, no, I wanna keep together
The screw-pitch dreams through the beam trawl and severing.
After all the chafed scraps, accumulated stock,
I wanna be whole, I am ready for the trunk—
Consummating act when the gleaming saw blade’s sunk
In the fault my body sprawls, quartered and solemn
In the unsplit egg’s hot velvet blind asylum,
I’m not gonna break, no I wanna be intact
Out of lash-fracted light where you can work the lock
And steady my body: I am ready for the trunk.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.