Field notes from margins.

Beautiful day. Outside gathering.

A child laughs above you.  

A hostile force appears. A toast


You know the threat when you

hear it. Time to flee again. 

But there is a precious item.

You’ve left it inside.  

So now you are here, looking.

Looking for it.

Parts and Paintings

Language of forms.

I wanted a language, the artist told us, that felt consistent

Let me show you, the artist offered. The bodies. 

And there they were. Body as image, a cipher to be doubled, dismembered, cradled, lifted, evaded––each exceeding the limits of its own banks, overflowing. 

What do you call this one? We asked the artist.

Unfinished, the artist told us. That is why we are here, still looking. 


Inspired by the work of Salman Toor.

Subaudible Damage

And resistance.

Behind the veil of official information, a justification for maiming, these blows administered at regular intervals by calculated technique for a purpose, and silence effectively shields it. 

Here is a hearing aid. Take this stethoscope. Hold it to her.  

Listen, wait.  

Keep listening. 


Inspired by the work of Sung Tieu.

Behind the Curve

At the bottom of the lens.

Where is the story to account for waves of squirrel over branch, or this ache reminding there is no way sometimes it seems to reckon with (to recognize?) the way things are and when the fall and the hawk and the fire­­­–––? 

No. Look. Stop this. 

I am looking. It’s the seeing that won’t come. I remember when sight was like a vision, the undulating body of it, ripe with equal parts recognition and want. Now this spinning, keeping watch, shapeshifting dark. It knows me. But I want to remember the other one. Who laughed and meant it.


The stories we keep.

Which history? The people, or the book? Language or lens? A soul reveals itself by the memory it keeps. It is less like the cementing of bricks than the stitching of squares. The quilters’ collective eye has its aesthetic aim, an effort of seasonal return. It is a functional art. But to forget either one of these––function or art–––is to make it something else.

Shelter Lullaby

Praise song for the dancers.

Face buried in her warm bread smell,

I cannonballed into dreams of flying;

she kept watch with one good eye

trained on roaches in the ceiling.

As I cannonballed into the next flight

she said Just a little while,

good eye trained on roaches in the ceiling,

in the room beneath the church of the sisters.

Just a little while, she said, 

bandage over other eye

applied by sisters after landing,

and changed it when she thought I could not see.

Bandage over blinded eye,

she left the bed when I slept

to change it somewhere where I could not see,

and then she danced.

She left the bed when I slept

for a basement where music played

and then she danced

with the women in a circle, and they laughed.

In a basement where music played

danced Leti, and Patrice, Maria and Janae,

these women in a circle and they laughed,

away from the men they had survived.

Danced Gina and Kira, Shondra and Renee,

and my mother, and I, for the time being,

away from the men we had survived —

and you should have seen her dance.


This one first appeared in High Shelf, 2019.