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