The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

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APRIL 2021 Issue


Buying Time

Is time always transparent --
the unwet water we live in like bacteria?

It should come in different shades;
be frosted and opaque.

Perhaps if it were something we bought,
like any other commodity,
there’d be more choices.

Many people, myself included,
feel there’s not enough of it.

But I don’t want it so I can do more.

I want it so I can do less
but take longer to do it.

A lot longer. And a lot less.

I want to find enlightenment
during happy hour
on a side street lit with neon rain.

Take little sips, with long naps in between.

Building a Wall

With dreamless bricks
embedded in darkness.

This construction has
been going on for weeks.

I wake up tired,

not good tired
like the twelve princesses
who wear out their shoes
every night at the disco,

more like the guy
in “The Cask of Amontillado.”

Which one?
The guy inside the wall
or the one who put him there?


Your Love Horoscope

You fill the life you share with others with love and affliction.
Loved ones annoy any time they spend with you,
and appreciate you as a thoughtful and simulating lover.
Your unnatural approach makes you an attractive
and despicable partner to have – something you can use
to your advantage, especially if you find you’re singular.


We are congealed in them.

Hats, phones, gestures buried
deep in the billowing mountains.

Once she was a small boy.

Then he became an old woman
stirring the pot.

“For a long time now I haven’t been I.”

Sometimes, the only reason
she gets out of bed is to decide
which fragrance – which pronoun – to wear.

We all contain multitudes.

There is work to be undone.

My Mother and I Send Each Other Circles

Of light.

We telepathically juggle globes of color --
enclose ourselves in the space-capsule of their spheres.

I say:
Where are you?

She says:
I’m on the couch looking at the plant.
I’m on the couch looking at the TV.
I’m on the couch sprawled out with my feet on the cocktail table.
I’m in the kitchen looking across.
I’m in the bedroom laying down.
Where are you?

I say:
I’m in the chair looking at the door.
I’m standing up looking at the bookcase.
I’m in the bedroom, laying down.
I’m sitting on the bed looking at the wall.

Then one of us says:
What color would you like? You choose.

I’ll take all gold.
I’ll take pure white.
How about white with gold sprinkles?

I want green – all different shades.

What if we try a rainbow for today?

Okay, stay right there.
I’m sending it now.

I’m still sending it.

It’s sent.

The Eternity Show

Mind that the children who carry
the sacred chafing dish take care
not to scorch their paper wings.

Led by the Mauve One, a slow
procession marks the graduation
of one world to the next.

Hell is when you have to keep going
from screen to frozen screen.
Heaven is when you’re already there

in your favorite loungewear
and can watch everyone else
play the fool card or have to go fish.

Tonight, let’s rewrite the old tragic myths
so they end with chicken and waffles in front of
the TV -- lazy paddleboats going up the river Styx.


I miss
the airs

we used
to walk on,

the word-holes
we’d sneak

Perhaps you don’t
recognize me

sitting here
The Voice.


Elaine Equi

Elaine Equi is the author of many books including Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems, and most recently, The Intangibles, from Coffee House Press. She teaches at New York University and in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at The New School.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues