The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

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APR 2019 Issue
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At this very moment, I'm fearful the sharp sensation in my spine isn't some essential call I somehow missed because my service and reception was shoddy. Bangs fire down my left leg with the power of susto, cleaning the house of my lower half, beginning where my lumbar meets my hip. I've been calling it ziz's nest while rationing foodstuff these past several weeks. I cannot sit for very long. To whom am I writing this piece if not you?

What are the odds that you read this text? What are the odds it would interface between us? You defied the odds. I burn up in the afterglow of such an honor. I've arrived at a different faith speaking crestfallen in whispers. There, in the corner, is a crouching spirit—we know her name. You are anonymous reaches of distance converted into meaning for us here. You are a conjury of spectral motes mattered into being. If, as The Picatrix attests, images are spirits of time, I imagine you as you imagine me, free if only for a moment, from time's regime. When you possesses me, I might write an epistolary to you, or a poem in which you becomes subject, or a poem in/of which you are object.

You predicts itself, in the sense that I predicts me in this sentence. I write poems so that my next life might recognize our sameness. I write poems I hope to find should I find consciousness again in another form. I personally don't want to return to earth, I write poems in the event that I do. The audience I hold most consistent sway over is ghostly, to whom my friends and readers seem closest in proximity. But none of this I presume upon you.

To conjure you—to imagine you now, requires giving face or form to the absent, even in the presence of life; it is an exercise in prosopopoeia. With each poem, I speculate at you, in an attempt to portal a connection. Where you are, I do not know. Each poem assumes its life after me with you. To write poems is to populate the world in specters made in the shadow of your absence. Poems, texts, languages ghost everywhere, seeking animation, in wait for you.

If a poem gives me life, what is agency? If a poem is its own thing, if it assumes a life of its own despite me or my intentions, and animates when read, then I cannot be mad when you lift a line, for what is known is easily copied and a poem's essence will find its life. Time tests a neophyte, just as poems return over time as if of their own volition for careful revision. I cannot possess the aspects that matter in my poems but, when called, I account for the language those voices evoked, even if it means you hand me my ass.

I don't imagine community forming around my poetry, poems are produced and populated by community. What poems would I have written if not for my mother? Poems consist of the mentors' echoes, a plethora of lyrics or rhythms riffed, of lines memorized or loved, they carry images sensed, things of dreams, the food the poet eats, and other visitations. As a volunteer editor at Apogee, I study the work I receive. All of it. By that very responsibility, my work exists in community with contemporary poets who identify with Apogee's mission to uplift writers from the margins of visibility in the literary sphere, regardless of whether or not I am seen, because I read all the work, in addition to the writing I read for myself, which all comes to inform commitments to the page.

Performing poetry invokes community; I no longer enjoy reading my work solo because something else happens when poems are collectively performed. I've been performing poetry in community with vocalist B Taylor and dancer Sammy Roth the past couple years. I find, when we collaboratively compose a hybrid performance poem we summon the most powerful entities.


Joey De Jesus

Joey De Jesus co-edits poetry at Apogee Journal, is a recipient of the 2017 NYFA/NYSCA Fellowship in Poetry and lives in Queens. Poems appear in several venues in print, online, and have been installed in The New Museum and Artists Space in New York City.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

All Issues