The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

All Issues
DEC 20-JAN 21 Issue


Don’t get me started
to break me

How do you know the poison
of my mind
isn’t running through you

just now

I’ve seen it: ash brain areas
bleary meat
with a special stink
                                     light up

What have you to say?

What of your flesh have you got to make
to make your flesh disappear?

I know: something smart, compatible.
Someone quick! invent the emoji with the nosebleed

I’m lucky this is only a portrait
of my prosthetic movie face

The shape of my eyes is like a capsized rowboat

Maybe I’m angry underneath. How are you

If you think all poets are your friends think again

Who put the bomb on silent? And who’s got
the fancy parents? Who admitted me? admit it—

I don’t want your check

                 stolen power
                 for normalcy

and everything keeps changing
while never understanding the inexplicable pain in my right nostril

I hope one day I can aspire
to fuck all my affiliations:

They have you thinking otherwise

                             (thinking your intellectual and spiritual being depends on it)

                                                                                           But remember

Resume the bath. Trees sleeved
of willow kind
               casting shadows round the light
when there was no snow

Momentary guilty pleasure falls, like snow.
I was there even before I was there

Where I go I will willingly

like stones from the beach

seeking available feeling outside memory

The sick place is its people
the city which steals from you before
teaching you how—

Who looks like me when ash is me?

Bees drop like remembered snow
and lemon trees as full as bridges
you could walk beneath

Sister, if you have begun to believe it
you will suffer. The pears I put
in my mouth taste like holes. The objects of my hate

are people.
President, if only you could die
so I could be free of you. Brother,
if only you could live
so I could be free of you.

To internalize nothing though your life depends on it.

And the solar pulses beat brilliantly through the trees.

Double Take

There are things I can’t
find my way out of
by crawling outside.

Tested by the
meaning of this

when the point is to get
excitement to spend itself
into a calm one can
be oneself and enter—

The blizzard as I see it
is more like an infant when it turns out to sit

so unobtrusively on the earth.
Then, trying to be
one thing less, venturing
out, noting that this

ruins nothing, least of all
return, which
being what guards itself
seems a way to get you somewhere

all because you said you would

Stay with me, or else
these words were clipped for nothing.
The stars fuck and align
for nothing, not even misery, our mutual-feeling.
To not be here, yet feel entangled
in cold reflections I’ve been seeing,
a tree moving in its own way. What
would be the point of that, reader,
save to cut you with the blunt end
of my face reproduced in the knife?
We are close in fake spirit.
I can feel it upon my organs.
I need a reason but first
the street is getting away from us. Please do not,
I mean, best not to be. I assure you more and succulence
not in one but two fell swoops.

If you should weep my love, weep
for I am not dead, and you are living. Under the plaza mart
rubbing the sun into your face, ready to tan
under the infinite gloom, goldening compliments before they burn.
Some people recant their love to love’s face
but I recant my death from the universe. When I shouldn’t
I think of you most, hard and fascinating
in trees pregnant with wind and flowers. Against all odds
I marry off my collection of envies, which although appearing simple,
entailed my being. And if you should weep my love, you’d weep.
It doesn’t mean anything, above the cold pavement of
human significance. I am here to wish us well.
May we win the lottery, may all our dying platitudes come true.


Jennifer Soong

Jennifer Soong is the author of Near, At (Futurepoem, 2019) and a forthcoming chapbook When I Ask My Friend (Doublecross Press, 2021), which is one half of a collaborative project with Daniel Owen. She lives in New Jersey.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

All Issues