Layli Long Soldier

from Vaporative

However a light may come

through vaporative

glass pane or dry dermis

of hand winter bent

I follow that light

capacity that I have

cup-sized capture

snap-like seizure I

remember small

is less to forget

less to carry

                                                           tiny gears mini-

armature I gun

the spark light

I blink eye blink

at me to look

at me in

light eye

look twice

and I eye




When I want to write seriously I think of people like

dg for whom I wrote a long poem for whom I revised

until the poem forgot its way back troubled I let it go when

you love something let it go if it returns be a good mother

father welcome the poem open armed pull out the frying

pan grease it coat it prepare a meal

apron and kitchen sweat labor

my love my sleeves pushed

to elbows like the old days a sack

of flour and keys I push them

typography and hotcakes work

seduce a poem into believing

I can home it I can provide it

white gravy whatever the craving

poem eat and lie down full

poem rest here full don’t

lift a single l







Strange how lying on this side works

yet on my back I grieve and turning

to my left I rewind to a child’s world

so I re-turn back over to the first

position of poesis prenascent page

before any material thing makes

in this right-side peace I work most

nights I greet open-eyed delicate

pronunciations like thank you I thank

the empty room I still my body I work hard

not to slip a centimeter in dark work not to

interrupt my own conversation I move

my mouth as if silently reading as if a begin-

ner or courting a friendship careful holding

to my chest small gifts tight 3-lettered

words in 3-word phrases I welcome in

the new new.



if I read you

what I wrote bear

in mind I wrote it









down only

so         that

I remember





I have always wanted opaque to mean see-through, transparent. I’m disheartened to learn

it means the opposite. Why this instinct to assign a definition based on sound. O-PĀK

I interpret the O: open P: soft Ā: airplane or directional flight K: cut through / translating to

that which is or allows air, airy, penetrating light, transparency. To say, You don’t fool me

for a second you’re opaque. To say, I’m partial to opaque objects I delight in luminosity. To say,

I’m interested in this painting on glass opaquely bright. I understand the need to define

as a need for stability. That I and you can be things, standing understood, among each other.

One word can be a poem believe it, one word can destroy a poem dare I. Say I am writing

to penetrate the opaque but I confuse it too often. I negotiate instinct when a word of lightful

meaning flips under / buries me in the work of blankets.


God, just don’t write a poem about writing. Bo-ring.


Says my contemporary artistic companionate, a muscular observation and I agree. A poem about writing poems, how. Boring as it is, it asks me to do. I couldn’t any other thing tonight. I sat I wrote about writing. I write I sit about writing. I’m about to write about it, writing and sitting. I will write and sit with my writing. It’s satisfying to sit when I write.

Defamiliarize writing then, somebody says okay I’m not sitting then I say to somebody. I’m chewing at a funeral and. I’m nibbling my pulp knuckles. I’m watching a man with a stain on his. Pants always wrinkle in this heat, gnats and humidity. I walk to the front pew to make a lewd, joke. I regard laughter from the man in the. Pants are always honest I mean really heavy at a summer burial. Yet he doesn’t ever cry, the stained man, why. When I observe nothing (unusual) I do nothing (unusual) in response. New or novel. Real lit relics (!) on these occasions. In ritual: nobody’s learning, true. And to lewd is dumb. Like the way I put up my dukes when I observe the cowboy kneel. He’s praying he’s asking. He doesn’t see me, my gesture’s futile. What am I doing here, writing. What am I doing here righting the page at its funeral.


When I stay up late I have thoughts, continually pen-marked by the clicking-on

of an air conditioner a cutting coolness or imbalance I hear so clearly

in critique. Yet nuance saves a line and looking / space / in the trees, I watch our dog

bounce carrying the bone of a sheep’s leg. I notice the carcass and her bark: both absent.

So I learn to write around it, the meat, in wide circles to be heard. When a friend says

I believe you’re privileged by being so closely under, I ruffle I ease. It’s not easy.

Who’m I speaking to so often no one if not the friend. On the road to Shiprock I count

eight dust devils spiraling at once in proximity all in, a line. Then only seven.

What causes reduction in this instance? I’m tempted by the bed next to my desk, yet

the desk next to my bed “sounds” better sometimes. I don’t want to hear a fiction writer say,

This is why I don’t read poetry. I mean, he said it not me. Of course: influence(s). Where do I

consider myself among them she asks. A tick head burrows in the skin of a question. I glue

the coffee cup to my lips, blow the heat. The sun’s not up yet the birds begin first

5:06 am. A signal. Lie down closely my skin to sheet and pillow now the eyes orbit

the white star of a Caps Lock light STOP don’t revise a word comma semicolon or.




“Vaporative” first appeared in The Brooklyn Rail.