The Poetry Project

danilo machado

poem upon re-leasing a handful of painted walls in not-mine crown heights in not-mine brooklyn in not-mine new york in not-mine united states

it’s a crisis, so we negotiate
discount upon signing another year,
permission to drill holes for frames, or shelves
our metal doors open pressing numbers

four floors and a rooftop to see sunsets
or full moons or king’s county hospital,
sibling smokestacks, former poorhouse, almshouse

it’s a crisis and we’ve engulfed ourselves
in leaves -- pots on the sill, terracotta
among records and pillows and the mail

group thread with the neighbors,
compost at the community garden
down the street, past new pavement, new building

who planted trees on the few sidewalks we walk?
whose soil on whose land? who? Not I
not I not I not mine not mine not my

not from or of here, but here still

lately what’s returning has been nausea

/ / today we’re talking about return -- there’s little leaving lately,  square feet on the same square feet / i’m always writing the same poem / motion sickness from stillness, mild unalignment / / marwa says i am made to leave i am made to return / crossed home off the mural for the title / something about a blurry migration / something about the realizations of a body / something about cramped language, about holding it in your fist too tightly / / jasmine spells something about diasporas / something about the flimsiness of white supremacy / i met byron kim in the green room at the museum once / i’m obsessed with his blue & gray & brown canvases of skin & skies & sundays / after the talk (or was it before?) he said i looked like someone he knew / / most of my new poems are written on sunday /  maybe every finished poem is a draft of the next

another new year’s day taking the train to the church for poetry

on the 2, two dykes rest their heads on one another, talking with a friend about new years past / the three of them just miss the d at barclays, where i wait for the n / i sit next to the boy i was staring at at sterling / corded black headphones on, blue beanie eventually taken off // all is the same, or at least continuation / queers mass travel, show affection / boys gazed on platforms and moving cars, half-poems started in black notebooks / on the other side of me, someone sketches a bust in 2b / big eyes, shadows / it doesn’t look like anyone on the train

Issue 18