Soon, the inverse
in the details
glare of embedded
grit in slick coherence,
waits for us
in the sun, the act
off, flares of rejected
vision, visual itch looking
for the keys too closely
mounts in the mind
what shines in the bright
in shrinking parameters
a beam of focus trained
not a refined emergence
so much as it squeezes
everything around it
out of distinct
elseness– wanted light
on more light, smear on
burned off cloud cover to
expose what’s inside until it’s
The room asking, it seems, you to breathe
and be careful about it. Vowels
on the walls, steam rising
off the ground, noxious language to match.
Like eyes have a half
stop, half-lidded the way I try to hold
my breath when I’m not underwater, things seep
in and scatter. I perceive
the porous edge as danger.
But that’s Whalley you know
two or three kinds of haze and
you want to point to the trace
of its dusted horizons. One line
of rust around a car coated
with road stains, lifting time out.
Passed by these coagulants every
day, hardening: an inverted
table by the porch just exposed
to whatever. Iron rain along
the thin track of its frame.
Some days a dusting of snow
then a missing surface disappears
in long grass. It can hold something
up, even friably, so it splinters
under us. You can tape
down the sharp atmospheric, not
to sterilize the blade–rusted
like New Haven shining, I can’t even
separate it to inoculate the hurt.
But it’s a tint, little crinkle
over the eye, its virtual
blindness. Another layer of
the mask could reveal a grasp
then not, and alternate; somewhere
the air intervenes: what you meant
to see through for so long, but
couldn’t until you realized hands
wave at what’s calling
from a different plane. The dripping
sheet only severs seeing’s expectation
of clarity. We can
stand bereft when the mask
won’t promise to see us, a little ripped sky
could come between us: you
in the dark, me guessing what your
stagger suggest you might be seeing. Still
it’s a pretty veil! Medium we’d
communicate through so thick that we can’t.
Bridled air, streaming like shorelines
and the borders of our eyes.
KEVIN HERNÁNDEZ ROSA was born in Gaguas, Puerto Rico. He received a BFA from The Hartford Art School in 2016 and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2021. His work has been the subject of national and international exhibitions at the Slought Foundation, Philadelphia; M23, New York, NY; The Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT; The Ely Center of Contemporary Art, New Haven, CT; The Dial, Hartford, CT; 891 N Main, Providence, RI; LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York; and Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK. He was the first recipient of the Fain Family Scholarship at the Hartford Art School and was honored as a fellow in 2014 at The Mildred Complex(ity). He was a 2021 Graham Foundation co-grantee and he will be presenting his first solo exhibition at the gallery, Hatred 2 in Brooklyn, New York in January 2023.
TOBI KASSIM was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and has lived in the United States since 2003. His work has been supported by a Stadler Center Undergraduate fellowship and an Undocupoets fellowship. He won Yale University’s Sean T. Lannan poetry prize. His poems have been published in The Volta, The Brooklyn Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Zocalo Public Square, and elsewhere. He currently lives in New Haven, CT.