The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

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NOV 2020 Issue

How to Breathe Underwater: The Pandemician’s Reprisal

(what leaves you, what loves you)

   the last wave of consciousness
begins the first
   where men come to towns they don't live in
and poets use blood for skin

   I am the change the world
   I am the change the world nothing
   I am the change the world
   I am the change the world nothing

   and of the 3rd wave
where virus claims body privilege
   at the end of the march — lightning flash —
— thunder ghost of a collective mouth —
   — top of the mount top of the cop —
— that far away clap from the mother tongue

   landscape of a curve on fire
   landscape of a flattening fire
   landscape of a fire been quiet too long
   — landscape of a quiet —

   begin with a forehead
pick up a thought
   — thinking is movement
so is un-comfort —

   organize a gathering, invite the power structure
interrupt them when they speak — that's the closest you'll ever get to change

   knee-deep in the 8th wave, 14th wave, 8th wave, 14th wave

(what defends you, what defunds you)

— combine text-maker
— with sound-maker
— with direction-maker

   I am a word, re-word, by me
   I am a word, re-word, by me

— to create conflict between what's broken down
and what's new you create
— conflict, and broken, and down

   this isn't something new — body, something
   new this isn't — something new

— new creates the arc, what's broken
is you

(what reframes you, what encounters you)

and of the 7th wave, of fear in recollection
of spiritual tentacles as animaliens — of literacy
as an act of language, spelling out the sound of your evolution
— of a people's spillage
of a host, visiting a body it doesn't live in

[what opposes you, what breaks for you]

and of conflict as idea — pre-wave numeric —
of ways we don't speak to each other
when we step into, new ways

of gather as form
as word, re-healed — the massive aquarine intelligence
— to direct all followers
as their own —

isolation leaves a surrounding contour
vibration of the gathered following, grows heavy
— no need to respond, if you're already light — where do you hold your weight
   39th wave
   40th wave
   39th wave

— what is the sound of gravity, following a fist
— what does asphalt do, to a skull
— how does bone on bone work, patella on thorax
— vertebrae upright, for hours —
   been walking
   for something
   to walk on

intention coagulates the ephemeral, unshakeable
acquiesence of nightshade, neon in my breath
nocturne accapella, inferno in my lungs — did you blink

in solidarity with the mob, who blink good news
in the 6th wave — where sadness is considered bad news —
when is corpse vibration, 11th wave

did you spill a bodybag full of ink
over the front page of a newspaper
and call it protest or art or the new normal
   don't browbeat, stay subtle
   don't browbeat, stay subtle
   13th annihilation, amarinda corpuscle

(what mediates you, immediates you)

solidarity — with what, the human race
to stand, with, implies, against
unless everything, is, with
— everything IS with —

our relationship to collaboration, is how we meet it
with air, with skin, with IS
let creation/destruction rule motion for action
— in solidarity with vibration —

— all bodies are lit with vibrational forces
— all bodies are solid permeable ether
— all air remaining upper respiratory solidarity
— lower bronchial solidarity
follicle local autonomy

mutation is a wave, every dismembered particular
every misunderstood difference, every fear of them against us, is, with

300th wave, I see you, I was born to hear you
I don't hear you, I was taught to hear you — did you see the fracture
how deep it is, how it ruins the furniture, how we keep sitting on it
   what is it, to get used to a broken home
   to live in the thing you broke

wave six hundred and seventy what, did you smell
sky's incision as placement — how sun, released its name
for us to borrow, as death

   and what of the stamen, diagonal for pistil
   and what of the cuerpx, domicile insurrection
   and what of the, too much to say
   in the about to be moment

9th wave as destruction of a flower
9th wave as chaos of a flower
9th wave as scent for colonial apparitions
   —collective drowning
   shapes my breath, to live in your mouth —

(what serves you, what saves you )

10th wave as intersectionality, 11th wave as doctrine for serenity
did you lose your count after wave 1,000, or are these waters
where the boat picks up — the matter, the lives, the names —

      we get tired of saving
         we get tired of saying
   we don't get tired of saying
      we don't get tired of saving
         we get tired of naming
   we don't — we name — we them — we name

— the work is in, the unfolding
— naming darkness, something we can see
no home unbroken — no home given

45th wave as apology
do you sleep okay, in heat — does the air reach you, in mind

(what marks you, what hieroglyphs you)

questions that don't belong in poems, have been
permeating my consciousness lately
   — how to settle into the frame, so my eyes can close
   into the dissonance
   into the allowance for error, that I nurture
   for sanity, for ancestral mobility

   my motion, in this world that matters — my voice that reaches
   this world that matters — my sorrow for what it is
   to belong in language
   messa me — mecca me — terra me

   [we're almost done here, not with civilization, but with the poem]

I should edit this, I should shorten this
   — but the 62nd wave is my name
is there sorrow in belonging, am I allowed to claim that
   — how do I take out the raw, and leave the body intact

there were people reminding me — onama name me
monoma name me, mosoma made me
onoma lingua, cosoma lengua

there were people tonguing me, mother tongueing me
in my mother tone, telling me
who I was, what I was supposed to do, in my mother tone
what is my mother tone, tongue tone
tongue tone, tongue tone, tonguetone, tongue tonetone

[what patterns you, what shapes you]

— there were people, could not any, be me
telling me, how I was walking, where I was supposed to go
— there were people, some of them right here
telling me, that each wave, is the last

   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be
   I am the about to be

   — this repetition came to me
   — I give to you for erasure
   — to live how I live
   — letter by letter
   — remove what you want
   — reveal what you need
   — you are the about to be
   — you are the about to be
   — you are the about to be
   — you are the about to be


Edwin Torres

Edwin Torres is a NYC native and editor of The Body In Language: An Anthology (Counterpath Press). His books of poetry include; Quanundrum: i will be your many angled thing (Roof Books) which received a 2022 American Book Award, Xoeteox: the collected word object (Wave Books), and Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press). Anthologies include; New Weathers: Poetics from the Naropa Archives, The Difference Is Spreading: 50 Contemporary Poets on Fifty Poems, and Poets In The 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement. He is currently hovering the zeitgeist, occasionally unearthed in Beacon, NY.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

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