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heart sorrow caused by heavy suffering, injustice
or persecution, a dull lingering ache
in the soul— a blend of lifelong


moving away from
the imprecision of words— nothing
goes away—


sorrow & resentment, a collective
feeling of oppression & isolation in the face
of overwhelming odds, a sense of helplessness


charting the space departure
creates: a map of blue
veins, of scarshine—


because of the tremendous
forces against one, a feeling of acute pain
in one's guts, making the whole body writhe


you can enter it, but you have to give
in to it in a different
way— you acquiesce, you inhabit


& squirm with an obstinate urge to take
revenge & to right the wrongs— all
these things—


a world of things that fall down
on the ground & lie flat, which may be
picked up & made beautiful—


air hunger, heart palpitation, &
dizziness— someone who dies
of han is said to have died of


things that breathe
out light & a luminous


hwabyeong [fire illness], a somatization
disorder which arises when people
are unable to confront


a crumbling shrine, cemetery
sown with missiles & circled
with concertina wire, coiling


their anger as a result of unfair
conditions; passive, it yearns
for vengeance, but does not seek


& twisted so tight, anyone trying to leave
has to strafe the field, burn the premises down—
but I promise to show you


it, is held close to the heart, hoping
& patient but never
aggressive— it becomes


a map, blotting out all
the legends of how we canonize
despair, how


part of the blood & breath
of a person, a state of mind, of
soul, sadness so deep


we might play the game called tell me the story
of your scars (ask how did you get that welt
on your knee? & also ask why    


no tears will come— something
that's tangled, knotted up & cannot
be untied, lamentation &


do you always look so sad when you hear
that song?) ask until you unveil the whole of
history, of all broken bits, all the wounds


even reproach toward the destiny
that led to such misery— & yet still
there's hope


inside & out— until we are stronger than the forces
that would do us harm, until there is no need
to compare bruises.


Jenn McCreary

JENN McCREARY’s new full-length collection, & now my feet are maps, is now available from Dusie Press. Other works include The Dark Mouth of Living (Horse Less Press), :ab ovo: (Dusie Press), a doctrine of signatures (Singing Horse Press), & Odyssey & Oracle (Least Weasel Press). worrywort, a collaboration with Pattie McCarthy, will be published by Little Red Leaves Textile Editions in 2014. She lives in Philadelphia with her family, where she edits ixnay press and was named a 2014 Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2014

All Issues