Four Poems

Nothing about Tomorrow

How will it be different in the future? It probably
won’t. Is there a future? There are the limits of
the body: age / illness / something else not said
out loud. For example, yesterday I couldn’t get
out of bed. Today, I got up and had breakfast.
So, I flipped things around, the day shifts, time
eats itself and is gestural / procedural / I could
have today and it could mean nothing about
tomorrow. I make appointments and don’t know
if I can get to them. I used to be someone who
made their appointments, and now I am not.
Weren’t we talking about the future?

Everyday Warfare

Sipping my hot lemon water across the street from the aerobic yoga studio
I don’t wanna get massaged into some tacky version of clarity
I want to destroy the fiction of trajectory that has been concretized by ownership

 

I ask her how do you get rid of a chronic condition, which makes us laugh
She writes me a script for allergy medication
We both know I don’t have allergies
The sun is enchantingly soft in New York today

 

I want to write a poem about the same thing that traps me over and over
The medical model isn’t working when it attempts to stabilize a condition essential to life

 

I am well aware that the entire world runs on misogyny
But proclaiming everything “complex” can enact violence on the systemically poor
If you’re abdicating the practice of truth-seeking you better not pretend you’re impartial
The morning-long process session has left me spiritually exhausted

 

My sister across the ocean takes lessons in Hebrew and Arabic
She coaches Palestinians in representing themselves to lawyers
Meanwhile there is police violence in Brooklyn on the Nakba Day
Our warzones go by different names
But the funding comes from the same place

 

As I get older I feel like I am coming out of myself instead of the opposite
Flushing cosmetic samples down gold-plated toilets in an act of modern bravery
The critique is only as complex as is the Whitney, the Notre Dame, the NYPD
Hold it up to the light and see if we can detect a colonizer watermark

Price of Love

I like ears not because of their properties of balance, but because of their soft folds. In the Wikipedia article for life, every word is a link. Life is a characteristic that distinguishes us from that which is inanimate, without life. I am in a permanent state of approaching arrival but the approach is unattainable. So it’s a continuous cycle. This a darkness, that looping sensation of being on the beach of endless ocean, but the beach is also endless. No relief by ocean, grief, or folding outward, the prison of a membrane what keeps me alive and encased. I can only be grateful for that which gives me grief. On the beach is a being, sweet and foldy like a cat just waking up, muscles flobby. At the end of his life he vomits up a lifeline of stars so that we can have light. I know there is more than a common feeling, but wait for me there just in case. We wish we could say that death is a construct but we cannot think of ourselves in community with the dead. It’s this absolute loss, like sunning on the endless stretch of beach at the ocean at the end of the world. If it was constructed, this beach, then the end would be an act of giving death then, no? We are symbolically being murdered when we go swimming in capitalism, which must die but won’t. This cat has visited us from space, or at least, he is not of earth, which we love but delude ourselves into believing we don’t need because the price of that love is more than it’s possible for us to pay.

 

Museum of No Belonging

1.

A neighborhood is a fiction passed down like a diamond ring
Schöneberg is beautiful at dusk, when we walk its streets in admiration
of the pastel houses and reading the memorial signs
eighty of them hung on lamp posts
a suburban setting in the city and the scene
of a turmoil that happened almost entirely in the dark

 

2.

The only way out of the world is to become
ourselves the conditions that stand between us and the world

 

3.

I was in the Topography of Terror and it was really hot
water forming on the small of my back as I drank my second espresso
of the day in the cafeteria, trying to get my body to relinquish
a kind of unearthly fatigue I haven’t been able to shake
the large museum crowd snaked quietly around the many panels
depicting the history of the SS, its rise to power and subsequent brutalities
it was a very text-based experience
I liked the panel about a Dutch Jewish resistance
the facts blur together now, but I’m sure all of them,
I mean the ones who tried to resist, died
out of all the Holocaust museums in Israel (there are many)
there is only one to feature these resistance efforts
examining the effect of studying an event from the perspective
of its victims and their humanity,
their everyday mundanities
their intimacy with their own mortality
through acts like writing zines, fucking and loving
and through suicide not as defeat
but as reclaiming a brilliant jewel
from the museum archives who stole it
In Schöneberg, the signs of the memorial
do not use names or pronouns for Jews
because the artists wanted to centralize the point of view
of the perpetrators, not the victims
like maybe to show the crime
with double-sided signs
such as Jews must give up their radios
and make them snappy
so that people can read the bulk of it
while riding by on their bikes

 

4.

I ask my students who that Ross Gay poem
about Eric Garner is for, and they suggest
a readership who might need to rationalize
Garner’s death with the fact that he infused
the earth with plant life before his murder
and brand him posthumously nonthreatening
to white sociality / to paraphrase Audre Lorde,
you can’t fight Israel over a rumor being spread by Israel

 

5.

The hole through which the body
could find a way out arouses exactly
what brands the body as desiring of the hole
through which the body could find a way out
and so ineligible for the hole
through which the body could exhale
into the billowing sail of a poem

 

6.

One sign depicts a bottle of sleeping pills
in front of the house of a professor
who found the jewel and wore it around his neck
a final resistant fuck-you to a world whose structure
was built on top of the ashes of his beloveds
I will say, I think the sign is too cartoonish for its content
deportations happened in the middle of the night
to circumvent an oral history from developing, I’m sure–
the neighbors aren’t talking about it because they are all asleep–
but also perhaps to foster a mass insomnia

 

7.

Last spring I went 4 months without sleep
and when the season finally ended
I had a dream I discovered a secret room
and inside there was a movie screen
and in the movie, my mother went swimming
and in the lake, her reflection fragmented
and in the water, she called out to me
but the beach was endless, and I couldn’t reach
knowing that I was the one setting the scene
and my reluctance to swim was a knowing
the film that was my life could end
The projection there–not being a dream
of an undisturbed sleep–not resting easy
the somnolence of a turbulent life

 

8.

Can a poem use logic, the order dependent
on the social order–no way out
of brutalizing logic and into the sensual
brink of a poem if only the poem
can sensually allow the crossing?

 

9.

As we somberly read these signs and then photographed
the bright pastels of the apartment facades I wondered
who was living in the apartments and if they still hate Jews
like their parents’ generation in the UK and America
who didn’t want to take in the starving and traumatized Jewish refugees
and the Jewish refugees who went on to Israel and whose grandchildren
today are in the IDF blowing up Palestinian houses
I wrote a manuscript about insomnia, dreams, depression, falling in love
and a deep sense of unshakeable sadness
but the manuscript was supposed to somehow solve all those problems
and come out the other side, so of course
life happened before I could finish the manuscript
and I had to throw it away
faced with the devastating realization
that the sense of sided-ness to everything had dissolved
and that my life had no linearity at all
I saw the afflicting doubleback of all things

 

10.

The body is supplies on the ground
is naval is militant is causality is a vapor
how to bear the body and the way it dies
to vaporize the script of itself as a body
who lifts up the world of itself becoming
vapor in the atmosphere in a poem
how to go on? We continue adapting
to the conditions of a world which requires
we destroy all dreams of a world

 

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Phoebe Glick

Phoebe Glick is a writer concerned with preserving queer intimacy under the carceral State. Her work has appeared online and in print at Prelude, No Dear, Apogee, and elsewhere, and she has been supported by the Poetry Project, Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics, and Pratt Institute. She teaches writing as a CUNY adjunct.