RYAN SKRABALAK‘s latest books are Levitating Scum (Tree Jumps Rainbow, 2023), in which these poems appear, as well as The Technicolor Sycamore 10,000 Afternoon Family Earth Band Revue and Assembled Climate, both forthcoming later this spring and summer. He currently lives in so-called “Lawrence, Kansas” with his dog, Donkey, where he runs and edits the poetry press Spiral Editions and curates the poetry reading series DOGPARK. He is also an instructor at the University of Kansas, a radio DJ, and an organizer for AFT Local 6403.
of the letter, which bends between us, means memory
serves. the greater
river by feeding the lesser, the
many. K would not communicate your aversion to K’s
harshness. To harshness.
Q would sound like 규, maybe, but, unmuted, despite its roundness, staked.
in the ground. A tree
by the river at the river’s
its groundedness, even
tuning fork struck
this note through bedrock
alone would not convey the other
half, the balancing
act of branches
that is 원 holding the silence
of 이응. In winter a tree
still holds its vacance. You
contract s at the edge
of One and grow s outward as do river s into theirs
Wood jaw under of
the key Changes. Keyed to. The
which-tree Of the melody ironing Out—that which is
Melodized, unrumpling the
-arries the paper through a crowd. No Wind but it rustlesthehalf-past
Hour round as
Gone’ s yoke is
Greening-in, unfastening—that which
is ours is an
H our cutshort. An a.m. of ours. An amourlike a flag. At
Half-mast, us evens, breaks the remote
future I crave the news—Van, the H
R guy, Relays
the news of delay. Delays the news
Of course it snowed as a matter of
Course, it rained
You cannot hear me; you are too tired to
speaking of cars, the cars are
that us streets hiss
All and Only
Rain without resumable cause. Concentrating fingers fumble. At Mothernode. Syntax problem builds.
Actual attention spreading mode. Heads only requirement. Trees analytic tools for studying air. One of us trains towards others.
All took exemptions. They live in heads rent-free. Woods guy neverminded into that guy. Wash tall quickly wraparound scrub.
Of course: not-perfect mirror. Pin doubles under scrutiny. Not needled by riddles. Rain taken down from the beginning.
Of path through chart. Moving with rain or because. Of deep structure passing into surface. Nodes flash back.
We live in the middle of nowhere. And I can give you rides whenever, wherever you need.
Trees assume grammatical branches. Grammar assumes roots that end. What is optional is eating noodles. With a fork in noodles.
I unbox. But stiff and scrambled. Tree is optional. Green’s descent.
Draw every possible tree as one. Tree. It is so. Non-one.
It somehow barely resembles anything. The last thing to figure out is the words. Leaping out of the last thing’s order. Of anything left.
어디든, 언제나 [wherever, whenever]
Was it looking at the speed at which rain through trees
makes sense and it isn’t rain’s speed through trees
or the speed of looking at rain through trees
looking for the light pull’s pleasing
weight in my palms counter it
pull or push or light, or weight of one’s breathing-concentrate
on palm’s sweating—or sway, I was sweat and swayed with
the light consume me and I blemish that way ants tickle
peach ooze down the table’s dwindled
Leg. Loneliness on the clean floor. Radiator’s
outside-my-air voice when I turn to be reminded of the bay in every window, not the machine of me whirring
simple stuck wipe up the table leg, song against grains I can’t see
on my knees, desert-vacuumed palm. I half-remember looking up
to feel you there, my admiring your ankles and your knees—how beautifully you are connected
to yourself—unclasping the phrase from my some such mouthing. Was it when we crossed
불광천 on those wide-flat stones the current pushed into place you asked me did I like the rain—no,
not rain, but days of it—비 오는 날들—living at the speed
they force—yes—we were in one and it appeared to only be stretching on my glasses on the outside
of my breath, it comes taking down the day’s 미세먼지 and the last week of blossoms and the light
I slowed to wipe the streaks you slowed
** JED MUNSON is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including Minesweeper, winner of the 2022 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook prize. A book of his essays, Commentary on the Birds, is forthcoming with Rescue Press. His writing can be found in Conjunctions, Bat City Review, Vestiges, Annulet, P-QUEUE, and other journals.
a vestige where
the geometrician steals my iron spine
magnified consonants spikedby hard sand
a gambling swarm
ignored mumbling laughter
spillover noxious language
insect voices yell complicated double knots
i cut prayers for a stoccato god
shut their blinds
paused suffocated by living room edges
familiar smokescreen noises
i am wide awaketwo stink bugsnauseating
release steam above decorative porcelain
bounty fine fabric of raincoats
strangled by mildewy smells for three days–
my blurry radar is showing stones
flattened by the sea salt burden—
vowels to be notated
cutting the lawn is a neighborhood tremor–
play rotted bones at dulcet frequencies,
and the fake grass is an irreducible obstruction
next to fallen half-cuttings from dogwoods
i picket the granular bone into fresh sod–
stress pathology of sewer flows
as an ocean depth synchronizes on a green diamond
i am ditched at the colossus
barnacle lining grafted fields
this grass-sized muted siren is flayed by a monolithic voice
as oil pools in the base of the frame
i paint a picture of a bull on the ceiling
and there is not enough in the pocket of a giant–
talons of antholites bounce sour sounds
hear segments of blank space
nestle beneath molting wood sorrels
wrought wasps move frenetically collapsed by vacuum
submerged by the flood of sun rays scorching leather chair
the immutable geometer is killed by his enamel coat
and this rotted obstacle closes
i place dynamite on the counter with plaster birds–
of kinetic departures— a trash fugue
curtailed plastics pile up by middle June weaving against suffocating living rooms
i am poisoned by its asthenic furnitures–
or a heavy foulness,
anabatic by a multitude of herbs
my words unfurled
by a ballet
collecting aerial mint tulips, i am staring into the sun’s mirror
phases road blocks
of terror traffic
a splintered geometry
pray to weaved jams
and fragrance vapor
unmetallic spoiled saint parades a silent February
by dancing jokes crumpled harmonies
i navigate a bismuth garden, carved into an unconsulted Oklahoma
wisteria sensitive to a cataract whistle
my skin is beginning to break off
convergences of rich blooms disassembled
by page length creases
melting point to stale winters curved to massive appearances of unfamiliar insects
i live drowsy on heated flatlands and the geometrician practices
a routine of seeing double—
MAXWELL RABB is the author of the chapbook Faster, the Whirl Wheel (Greying Ghost, forthcoming 2023). He lives in Chicago, leaving his heart in New Orleans and Atlanta. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Action Books Blog, Sleeping Fish, mercury firs, and ctrl+v, among others. He is currently an M.F.A. candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He co-edits GROTTO.
“Ding-dong. / Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.”
My dad is dying. Who will say, Ding Dong! Hark!
Full fathoms he lies? Will it be me, tolling the bell
Since it already tolls for me? In Noah’s Ark
A camel said, “my hooves still feel the bark
And teeth that herded us here. I prefer the desert hell
Where my dying father sang ding dong to a hawk
Circling above as his soul readied to embark
Toward the promised land. But here I dwell
Since bells already tolled for me in Noah’s Ark
To haste hence and wait for the world’s new spark:
Annihilation in the form of power washing fell
Deeds till death. It’s all a ding dong. But hark,
This water I carry I’ve no use for when all is dark
Floodwaters. I will weep till I’m a shell,
A machine for retold tales inside no one’s ark.”
Noah, a father, fated to be a son’s lark,
Woke up naked. His son had a story to tell.
Ding dong, dad, you made me build your boat. Hark!
Toll for this world was my love for your ark.
“It’s a strange new winter here. You will sleep”
It’s a strange new winter here. You will sleep
And wake up in a body. It will feel as though you ran
All night till you found a lamp lit next to a keep’s
Great gate, opened just enough for one to peep
Inside. You will see a rowdy festival held by a clan
Of new strangers come down for winter sleep
To endure this climate. Food and wine to keep
Them happy, a maskless masquerade for their caravan
That crossed a night to find the lamp of the keep
Welcoming their journey’s end, a herd of sheep
They brought double as blankets. Jealous caveman,
You’ll be the stranger in this new winter. Your sleep
Rudely ended, you will sigh out of your bed leap
And return to the endless cycle of lifespan,
A long night with no lamp to guide you to your keep.
You will suffer it all again as your body weeps
Jumping from one wildfire into another frying pan.
Winter is strange and new. You will choose to sleep
All night to find a lamp as if you’ve a promise to keep.
“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit”
Those two stars we wished upon were never stars.
Their distance is measured in fruit flesh,
Nightblue splash no larger than fingertip scars,
Units to gauge lifespans spent in fast cars
Like brutes on planisphere hunting for warm flesh.
Guided by stars, wishing our catch weren’t stars
But anything we could swallow and make ours.
A fruit torn swiftly from the tree is as loud as car crash,
Nightblue bruises the size of fingertips turn into scars.
Hand in hand, our steps slow, guided by distant stars,
The shining tips of a tree we turned to ash.
Those two stars we wished upon were never stars,
But embers of the choice we made as co-stars
In the show at the beginning, God’s big flash
Splashing nightblue with His fingertips of light the scars
That still haven’t healed. And that which we are,
We are. Paradise lost for a fruit tasting ash.
Stars we wished upon the first night weren’t stars.
Our nightblue fingertips are covered in gardening scars.
“A Quartz contentment, like a stone –”
In the old clockwork kingdom where needles glide
Above a dial like a figure skater’s blades on ice,
The new electric quartz movement set aside
Was kept in a storage below the lake. I was dock-side
And hawk-eyed. Saw the tremble on icy paradise.
I was old. Kingdom ran like a clock. Needles got all to glide,
High as highest peaks. Subroutines couldn’t provide
Answers to the tinny whir in our hearts. Our vice
Under electric neon moved us. The quartz was set aside,
The answer no one liked. To be loved was to abide
And let the water freeze over the watch from which we hide
In the kingdom that once told time. Needles glide
Above a dial more on design than function’s side
Rounding up to the hour when one pays the price,
Quartz moving in to be the body electric’s new heart. A-side
Of the tape is a song about the lake’s lapping tide
That spit out the beat for the skater to stage her device,
A relic of an old clockwork kingdom where needles glide
In new quartz electric. You move or stand aside.
JACK JUNG studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He is a co-translator of Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books 2020), the winner of 2021 MLA Prize for a Translation of Literary Work. He currently teaches at Davidson College.
ALAN SONDHEIM is a new media artist, theorist and writer concerned with the phenomenology of the world and body. He has collaborated with motion capture and virtual environment labs. He has had residencies at Eyebeam and the Experimental Television Center, among other venues. Recent work examines virtual and real bodies in relation to mixed realities and codework; and with “states of mind” under extreme conditions.
Sondheim grew up in Kingston, Pennsylvania, in anthracite coal country subject to floods, strikes, and mines. His background was middle class. He attended Brown University, studied English, and releasing several experimental records, mostly through ESP-Disk’, still a leading producer of free music. His most recent release is Galut, 2023, both as CD and online, also through ESP.
In the late 60s, Sondheim moved to New York, where he edited and wrote a number of books, including Individuals: Post-Movement Art in America (Dutton). He moved into video and other tech around 1969, and was in the Paris and Whitney biennials.
He continues to work in video, text, and music/sound; since 1994, he has continued to produce a new online piece daily.
His most recent book is Broken Theory, available from Punctum as a hard copy or free pdf. His video work is mostly online on YouTube, and his writing and other work is indexed on his website.
The Embodied Voice of David Wojnarowicz: An Essay on Listening
“I think what I really fear about death is the silencing of my voice…” —David Wojnarowicz, speaking to Cynthia Carr, in Fire in the Belly
In the summer of 1980, five teens coalesced into what would become “the best art rock band in [New York] city.” Among them was David Wojnarowicz. When asked what instrument he played as a member of 3 Teens Kill 4, David’s response was “the tape recorder.” Of his years with 3 Teens Kill 4, David said, “I was in a band. I wasn’t playing traditional music, but using tape recordings of street sounds and conversations and playing them as percussion behind the band.” While David’s tenure with 3 Teens Kill 4 only lasted a couple of years, the work that he started there as a sound artist would inform all phases of his career, wherein tape recorder and voice were medium, sound was form, and speech was theme. Still, even exhaustive descriptions of Wojnarowicz’s career frequently omit his work as a sound artist.
3 Teens Kill Four. Left to right: Doug Bressler, Julie Hair, David Wojnarowicz, Brian Butterick, Jesse Hultberg.
Between 1981 and 1989, David Wojnarowicz sporadically recorded what he called tape journals. Highly anticipated by many, the transcripts of Wojnarowicz’s tape journals, edited by Lisa Darms and David O’Neill, were released in print as Weight of the Earth by Semiotext(e)/Native Agents in 2018. It’s less widely known that a selection of Wojnarowicz’s tape journals from 1989 were also released in 2018 as the triple LP Cross Country by the Brooklyn-based purveyor of audio artifacts, Reading Group.
Weight of the Earth: The Tape Journals of David Wojnarowicz (Semiotext(e)/Native Agents, 2018).
Cross Country (Reading Group, 2018).
There’s something asynchronous—even downright odd—about releasing tape journals on vinyl. Wojnarowicz was solidly of the era of cassette tapes and Super 8. The portability of the tape recorder is what made these recordings possible: David casually lying in bed, shooting up around his apartment, or driving through the southwestern United States with the recorder resting in his lap, the tape unraveling with the road. Listening on my record player, I feel too tethered to big objects that bear no real relation to what I’m listening to. I want to put David’s tapes in a Walkman or in a car tape deck and drive out of the city (my car, of course, does not have a tape player). Would I be better off cueing up the excerpts of Cross Country that can be found on YouTube and strolling through my neighborhood with AirPods? It seems there’s no way to close the gap between myself and Wojnarowicz, no matter how much these tapes make me feel I’m hearing from an old friend. All that said, the power of watching David’s voice travel from vinyl to needle to receiver to speaker is undeniable. The records demand slowing down, sitting still, paying attention. They demand listening to David’s voice.
In his introduction to Weight of the Earth, David Velasco writes, “Just because he’s talking doesn’t mean it’s not literature.” I think that’s true, and the value of Darms and O’Neill’s transcripts is obvious. Velasco says it best: “The final image of these tapes is of a single car stopping for a red light, like it’s a fucking F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.” Still, literature wasn’t Wojnarowicz’s intent. Wojnarowicz was highly attuned to the archive that he would leave behind, and he left the tapes un-transcribed. Listening to the audio reminds me that these tapes were, at their very core, about embodied speech and the desire to be heard. Cross Country draws necessary attention to David’s voice and makes hearing him—something he wanted desperately—possible.
My copy of Weight of the Earth, annotated while listening to Cross Country.
Despite being a triple-LP, Cross Country only includes tape journals from February through June of 1989. Separating the later tapes out from the 1981-1982 tapes is powerful—in the seven years between these batches of tape journals, Wojnarowicz’s world had collapsed. The scale of loss that Wojnarowicz witnessed in New York City in the mid-1980’s is incalculable. During this period, death, once a distant abstraction, became a concrete reality that weighed heavily on Wojnarowicz. In 1982, the year that the acronym AIDS emerged, David spoke into the recorder: “Whenever I think of death it’s projected way in the future.” By 1989, Wojnarowicz was a year into his own diagnosis, Peter Hujar had died, and there was an immediacy to the question: “Really I just don’t want to fucking die.” Over the course of these years, Wojnarowicz’s relationship to language and speech shifted dramatically. Wojnarowicz transitioned from self-conscious about speaking (“How I feel is self-conscious about anything I say,” 1982) to disillusioned by speech itself:
I hate what words are like. I hate the idea of putting these performed gestures on the tip of my tongue or through my lips or through the inside of my mouth, forming sounds to approximate something that’s like a cyclone, or something that’s like a flood, or something that’s like a weather system that’s out of control, that’s dangerous, that’s alarming. (1989)
In Fire in the Belly, Cynthia Carr says, “David once told me he used to long for acceptance from other people. Then he began to value the way he didn’t fit in. He realized his uneasiness with the world is where his work came from.” David, once preoccupied with social norms, was transformed by witnessing mass death and staring down the prospect of his own. He was newly compelled to speak, but at the same time, his new reality broke down language and rendered it totally inadequate, even violent. Cross Country gives us intimate access to living within this catch-22 and the intensity of David’s struggle with language amidst the turmoil of AIDS in the late 1980’s. In spite of his hatred of language, Wojnarowicz never abandoned his commitment to speech. If anything, he appears to have become more invested in it, the catch-22 providing an essential fuel for all his later work.
In 1989, just two years after the advent of the iconic SILENCE=DEATH campaign, Wojnarowicz first performed ITSOFOMO (In The Shadow of Forward Motion), a genre-defying sound art masterpiece brimming with his voice, at The Kitchen, Chelsea’s multidisciplinary and avant-garde performance art melting pot. By the time Wojnarowicz was working on ITSOFOMO, he was also imagining his corpse laid bare on the steps of Congress. ITSOFOMO, a collaboration with musician and composer Ben Neill, was first recorded in 1991 and released on CD by New Tone in 1992, the year of David’s death. ITSOFOMO is an ambitious experiment in sound collage, pulling together David’s voice (certainly reminiscent of his tape recordings) the otherworldly wailing of Neill’s mutantrumpet, sporadic percussion, and Southern American ethnomusic inspired by Antonin Artaud’s radio adaptation of TO PASS FINAL JUDGEMENT ON GOD (translated from the French), a piece railing against American imperialism.
ITSOFOMO (Jabs Records, 2018).
ITSOFOMO opens with a diaristic account of David in looking out the window of a dying man’s hospital room (presumably Peter Hujar). His words are, in equal measure, interior and cinematic. Various noises—both white and as specifically yellow as piss hitting the pot—form a variously soothing and agitated backdrop to David’s smooth, calculated speech, undeniably sexual, yet modest, and then increasingly urgent, increasingly distraught as he can’t get this man to the bathroom: “I felt my body thrumming with the sounds of vessels of blood and muscles contracting and the sounds of aging and of disintegration. The sound of something made ridiculous with language. The sense of loving and the sense of fear.” This first track, “Living Close to the Knives: Liberty,” is a sonic crescendo to rage: “Rage—a perfect rage I was beginning to understand. Seeing myself hovering in the atmosphere or outside the building’s walls and wanting a shout to come from my throat, a shout that would level all the buildings.” The crescendo mirrors the experience of dissociation—the transition from a deeply embodied “humming and thrumming” to a trauma-induced departure from one’s body. For Wojnarowicz, silence and disembodiment were twinned. Resistance came through the throat.
In many ways, ITSOFOMO sounds like the full realization of Wojnarowicz’s early impulse to render his voice an instrument in a way he never quite could in the context of 3 Teens Kill 4. In conversation with Sylvère Lotringer, former bandmate Julie Hair said of Wojnarowicz, “He had more complex ideas about what he wanted to do artistically that could not be accomplished in a band situation.” Ultimately, with ITSOFOMO, the individualistic impulses that propelled him away from 3 Teens Kill 4 were allowed to flourish; backed by Neill, ITSOFOMO was Wojnarowicz’s vision executed. While the texts David read at the Kitchen in 1989 would ultimately go on to be published in Wojnarowicz’s great Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, it should not be forgotten that they were first spoken aloud—they are performance pieces, meant to be spoken, meant to be listened to.
In 2018 (the same year Reading Group released Cross Country), ITSOFOMO got its first and only vinyl pressing (Jabs Records) in conjunction with a major retrospective on Wojnarowicz’s work at The Whitney, History Keeps Me Awake At Night. The Whitney retrospective was controversial, as any showing of Wojnarowicz’s work by a corporate art institution will be. Evan Moffitt wrote for Frieze:
The glittering new Whitney, capstone on the tourist-clogged High Line – itself a promenade for sexless ‘selfie’ cruising – is in some ways complicit in the neighbourhood’s gentrification, a fact that goes unacknowledged here. It’s not hard to imagine Wojnarowicz’s ire at the institution parked on the ruins of a place he called ‘the real MoMA’, once a site of erotic and creative frisson between the classes, and now a monument to wealth.
In contrast to the Whitney exhibition, which de-historicized Wojnarowicz’s work, failing to even mention ACT UP, a portion of proceeds from ITSOFOMO vinyl sales go to Visual AIDS, which the album’s liner notes remind us, “utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.”
These recent engagements have skyrocketed Wojnarowicz into mainstream public consciousness, and today, David’s voice is especially close to the knives of commodification. In 2021, Daniel Levy arrived at the Met Gala clad in a mutilated adaptation of one of Wojnarowicz’s most recognizable paintings. Levy carried a handbag smothered in another iconic Wojnarowicz piece—an untitled black and white portrait of a young David surrounded by text relaying the homophobia this boy will encounter—the physical and political violence that will be enacted on his body. Surely Wojnarowicz, anti-capitalist to the core, would be rolling on the steps of Congress if he saw his work so severed from the reality that some 650,000 people still die of complications from AIDS each year. This severing is also a form of silencing. David’s voice remains under constant threat from forces coming from multiple directions—from censorship on one side (most recently, in 2011, the Smithsonian pulled “A Fire in My Belly” from its exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture), and commodification and appropriation on the other. It comes as no surprise that efforts to silence Wojnarowicz have outlived him.
For Wojnarowicz, silence equaled a swift and permanent death. Speaking, on the other hand, meant a life accounted for, and the possibility of leaving a trace on this heavy earth. Listening to Cross Country and ITSOFOMO, it feels as if David sensed he might somehow speak himself out of oblivion. As Sylvère Lotringer wrote in 1992, “ITSOFOMO’s forward motion becomes a battle to reclaim the organism of life.” Indeed, the life of David’s voice, persists through these records. The sound of his saliva, the weight of his tongue, his lips, his voice, right here, in my ears.
East Village Eye, Dec. 1983.
Since writing this, these videos have been pulled from YouTube.
A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side (Semiotext(e)/Native Agents, 2006).
From the liner notes to the 1992 release of ITSOFOMO (New Tone).
ADIE B. STECKEL lives in Portland, Oregon, where they work for an HIV/AIDS health and social services nonprofit and co-edit the small press and literary record label Fonograf Editions. Their writing appears in Annulet, Dream Pop, Full Stop, and Harbor Review, in addition to Old Pal Magazine, where a sequence of epistolary poems for David Wojnarowicz from a manuscript called DAVID were published earlier this year.
Kevin Hernández Rosa Untitiled Pinwheel
Utz cheese balls, epoxy, paper-mâché, steel mesh, steel, automatic air fresheners, found earring, found sticker, found dollar
Soon, the inverse of everything in the details glare of embedded
grit in slick coherence, such glassed disappearance waits for us
in the sun, the act of melting you cleaved off, flares of rejected
vision, visual itch looking for the keys too closely the heat mounts in the mind
what shines in the bright what intensity concentrated in shrinking parameters
a beam of focus trained on unsurvivable conditions not a refined emergence
so much as it squeezes everything around it out of distinct elseness– wanted light
on more light, smear on magnified terrain findings burned off cloud cover to
expose what’s inside until it’s the surface.
Kevin Hernández Rosa hovering hold
street sign, signposts, steel bracket, hardware, twenty-five Mercedes-Benz hood ornaments, black shoelaces, paua shell fragment
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.
Kevin Hernández Rosa desublimated. effigy/monument
Sunn 410 SR speaker cabinet, packing tape
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.
1 This poem references this video which kevin directed and I acted in, as well as the inverted frame in this piece
Kevin Hernández Rosa prayer
Virtual reality goggles, automatic air freshener, rusto, twist ties
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.
if I move slot by⁃⁃ erratically so stoked contractions ;
enshrouding bursts that take particulate, that make the stifled, retinal in- take
lapse by overestimation
segments recessed⁃⁃borne up⁃⁃
when regulated⁃⁃ culled purse⁃⁃ still,
incremental rebounds: want
for desultory and liability to⁃⁃ abridging, only
to recover from (light), accelerating
doubt in foreground.
survivability, gradating distances.
so face in tact, speaking, I desire.
before getting in the warm car that made me sick in a corrugation…
and before I did push-ups on the rug with a blue cone pattern…
I took off my shoes beside the bed.
bough ⁃⁃ ; cinched of flaccid prongs,until
diminution undifferentiates (don’t
i gird, upwardly borne through ⁃⁃ or ⁃⁃ sideface of.
in a way, rind thinning, berate escarpment.film berate, saddle hemming ⁃⁃
unprepared for flagrant bestowals ⁃⁃ excelling my practicality
DEVEREUX FORTUNA is a writer and visual artist. They are a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University and received their PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston as a Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Interdisciplinary Fellow. Their work can be found at or is forthcoming in hush lit, bæst: a journal of queer forms and affects, Triangle House Review, and elsewhere.
That the Cinnabar Kid was at it again is no joke; some image of him sitting at the window
Or going through it I- the moon, it was, um, with thee conversing I forget all time
With Thea in the pleasure loam at Taix arguing over the bill
And Morgan’s bedroom, nothing on the wall, cinnabar lacquerware on the credenza
In the adjacent room, we had just watched Solvent’s Moon, and I slept on the couch
She slept on the couch; We weren’t nothing, we
Which was some reenactment of a disappearance at La Ripa
Of the Cinnabar Kid in Terlingua a column of dust
Looking forward to noumena at the block party
It causes shaking
There was a sudden wind and fog that morning, and no one knew where he departed from
I was shaky inside but I was really at a party with
Doing helium in her studio
Singing a waltz in helium-singing
Painting solvent on each other so the Cinnabar Kid might’ve laughed
In that bituminous way we all laughed
It’s time to cut trees and carve
Lacquerware inserts show the Cinnabar Kid’s red -splotched neck
Now I keep the grain-light lit in the grain-shaped cave
Reaching out obliquely about a stepped-on snake in a letter
My arm shook while laying in bed
The Cinnabar Kid had to go to work the next day
So now I guess I’ll be up forever
Breaking dishes in the kitchen, just keep dropping them
Earthy matter; just don’t break the cinnabar
In Hang Seng, blues, keep overdrafting
My tent, it was small, and little raining, and we painted mud on each other’s faces
I heard the Cinnabar Kid fell out of an airplane in Idrija
Later married a bucket maker who had seen a saucer of light in the well
Thus enstrangement became a suitable solution
For image-making, full of angles
And I felt tattered, but not dry back at the house
Or get married in the basement of the paint-chipped plant
But I’ll see you after work, okay?
He contemplating the rusal moon in Friedrich’s painting under
chanticleer poundings from sberbank my brother
In collision uh huh, and, have to finish a watercolor tonight
After all this back and forth, my aluminium love have
We ended at the right moment — This all swept up in the dream
Of electrifying America 220k volt high tension to small telephone wire
When you called at the wedding and I heard you my tears
They flowed the wires through canyons and rivers
Switchyards, conductors, trying to say this was a tangible thing
To see a face in the dark, I was standing beneath a crop of aspens
When the man came over to show me his hands, Alcan restituted
Framing the walls, he was wearing a black cloak in
This actual material flux, and the “agency” of profligate forms
Alumina, forgings, castings, extrude shapes that
Shift in featherlight global riffs of aquarelle on the baseboards
Showing Cockpit Country or Odisha this base mineral light
Which irrupted, floating like this bauxite pontoon
TERRENCE ARJOON is a poet and book-maker whose work has appeared in The Oxonian Review, The Poetry Project Newsletter, and Screen Slate. His chapbook Acid Splash, or Into Blue Caves was published by 1080press. He edits 1080 Magazine and The Brooklyn Review, and co-organizes the poetry series at Pete’s Candy Store.