Two Poems by Asiya Wadud

after ‘O’ by Claire


long live our loyalty, how it loops, falls, lumbers, lulls and lists— finally resisting its own limpness. 

long live anything that has long wished to live: the lasso, the lake, the limit, the left lane, the spices spinning on their lazy susan. the lavender field at peak bloom, illustrious and ovenhot. land and the outliers. land and the legion of the Outer Banks. land and the landed. latitude and that was my limit until I looked left. what length we expect to cover in these longitudinal years, early loops sliced lengthwise to see their insides. 

the latent exercise of the loom, left to right, layered weft and warp listening to its language, leeched all across the living room. 

an antecedent to loyalty is drift. drift or look away from the limit. Let me look at the warped shapes inside the lava, angry loaves lifting the mouth of the mountain then lifting clear off the mountain. Leavened loaves at the limit of the leavening. Left loaves rock hard obsidian thoughts make. My yearling, even luxury has its limits. having lived or existed all year long. love is a lifetime of long live our loyalty, how it loops, falls, lumbers, lulls and lists— finally resisting its own limpness. A lifeline or ulna, all my limber bones held in my left hand, I have placed the bones on a bay laurel wreath, placed the wreath inside a barrel. lined up the barrel alongside other barrels laden with laurels and ulnas. what to say of lavishing honor, what to say of laconic, I once tried. what of leisure or lassitude. 

Lateral pines loosen at the ends of their branches, languishing before they fall, loop through the extra air. I am alone in the lake region algae bloom at my ankles loaves lifting the mountain to make fresh archipelagoes.

the back door or the lone coast

Abnegation began in December           something to do with the raw nature of endings— to do with saline clarity or finish. Abnegation or I can have it both ways— as in part credence part self-splayed           the heart line of my left palm extends to receive       whatever it is you place in it.           I bet it will be sustenance because I have known how it is to be fed

abdication or the act           of annexing another country or the act of crawling deeper into the hole for the purported days           that act as some extension

I made a charcoal line in           the wet cement while it was being laid stuck a few pebbles in the corner as the cement set.  Knew each time I saw           the pebbled surface would be reminded of the moment when           I placed the pebbles in the pavement of the wet cement 

                                                           I am always half here moving the bouquet around the 
                                                                        house, let its little shuddering petals fill me
                                                            hold the neck of the vase                    don’t dare let it slip

abnegation began in December             something to do with the self-made endings

chlorophyll in the winter is a commitment but possible— train the pothos towards the sun so that it can also grow             might as well let it grow if you plan to let the plants live.
I could not burden you            with this kind of abnegation so instead took to the bed— stayed there all night                 slept for the eight hours of it, woke up on a Saturday
my head leaked the message                                    everything set to orchestra pitch

the radio reminded me that if I could commit I could do it my way
place my foot in the black asphalt take my foot to the cement for clearance

the cooler weather began in December I didn’t notice when the cloud coverage ended—  my eyes were trained on the ground and since I trained them I saw the       phalanx of my winter shelter

in the night I sweat out all the abject days            or humiliation the ceiling fell around me
and I belatedly sought shelter under the
desk             I asked my sister to join me            and I awoke at the threshold
snowbanter of drywall            dreamlike in this way
I awoke at the threshold— all cleave and cleft

abnegation is a coolish lean lake       slipping into the logic       of three fold then deliverance
the hull marks its own shape            the hull marks its own shape

abnegation is an aseptic aqua lake             I have seen this kind of water
all stylized and brute all shelter shorn and brute all gradient, stalled becoming

I have seen this kind of water            leaks out to life             something like a crosshatch
but I think he said we are only             made by giving away what 
humble placeholders we are given       and what we are given was cultivated in a garden
Arkansas crosshatch      cane crawl down the corridor faith talk and myrrh or iron ore and oxidation

I have tried to board a flight       bird like and furcula— wishing and my documents. Night train and terror— compartments or gardens
I have tried to board a flight                   I succeeded 78 times. 
Stamp marked my entry             foul language my exit
but anyways means nothing to me— barely matches my imprint 
I retreat to the garden— let its language provide             the slippage let its countervalence 
get more vivid                   let to let to let to lean

between Christina Sharpe & Torkwase Dyson: what kind of space would you need to move 500 people quickly

I have used the blueprint as             a maritime future            used it as a seafaring fold
all foul futures never rest— blueprint I’ll show the magistrate
and expect to claim what is mine or at least clarify what I meant

I thought to ask permission or to just erase the door from the back entrance
room to room to room to green finish vaunted ceilings and picture windows

a vacuum or comfort in the cavity comforted by the room and oiled all the birch doors
abnegation or the lone coast the back door or the lone coast clarify what I meant or the lone coast

Author’s Note:

I recently read Claire Wahmanholm’s piece ‘O’ and was dazzled by the way it spiraled and constricted and created its own claustrophobic ‘O’ landscape. My piece ‘L’ was written in reply to Wahmanholm’s ‘O’. I also taught ‘O’ to my middle school poetry workshop and we created a collective alphabet book (each person wrote a poem for a letter of the alphabet). I wrote the ‘L’ poem, which is this ‘L’ poem.

“The back door or the lone coast” I wrote after hearing Fred Moten deliver a sermon at Trinity Wall Street on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this past January. It was also a period when I was listening to this one talk from Christina Sharpe and Torkwase Dyson over and over again. There is more to say but I don’t know where to begin. Nathaniel Mackey was in my mind, some nightmares were in my mind, too.

Image Credit: “Limitless” by Henry Brown, 2012 / The Met

About the author

Asiya Wadud is the author of Crosslight for Youngbird, day pulls down the sky/ a filament in gold leaf (written collaboratively with Okwui Okpokwasili), Syncope and the forthcoming No Knowledge Is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body. Asiya is a 2019-2020 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council artist-in-residence and a 2020 Danspace Project PLATFORM writer-in-residence. Her work has been presented at Mount Tremper Arts, Danspace Project and River to River. Recent writing appears in e-flux journal, BOMB Magazine, Social Text Journal, FENCE, Makhzin, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she teaches poetry at Saint Ann’s School.

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