Victoria Chang’s collection, Obit, seems to have anticipated the prolonged good-byes of 2020. In it, Chang says good-bye to loved ones, feelings, objects—everything we feel and know, who we were and where we’re heading—especially when someone we love is dying, and our sense of awareness is heightened.
This stunning book-length poem, broken up into 103 sections, examines the grief and trauma associated with losing a young sister from suicide. Threaded also through these lyrics is a conversation with Paul Celan’s Selected Poems and Dante’s Inferno.
The shoemaker labors over his leather, his work./A singular lightbulb illuminates his hands, like a ner tamid,
She keeps verbs in their bee box / until they all are queens. She keeps / words clean as the bowel of a sink.
These past few months, I’ve taken great amusement in others’ reactions to my newly bushy beard, and in their questioning why I’ve chosen to let it grow so full and long now that I’ve turned 60 and my beard has turned white.
The British call seagulls the “thugs” of the bird world. They “detest” the birds for snatching food from picnic tables and depositing splotches on cars. Pigeons and magpies come next on the list of most loathed, followed a few slots down by the unlikely sparrow who is simply “dull looking,” a criticism that seems dubious coming from a populace of oxfords, woolens, and tweeds.
arrives like a serrated wing. / Cuts the medium on which it is inscribed. / Cuts the fabric of the real.
In a co-authored essay, Priti Joshi and Susan Zieger observe that “Ephemerality might be described as the lived condition of an industrial modernity, founded on disposability, fluctuating value, and illusion.”
When we think of sticks, do we think tree; oh / bramble of me; what part of us, scatters wind, / becomes home to something other; how your / skinny bones in drape, mulberry limbs; oh slats / of light, ribs of; & dusk always resides in chest,
As kids, we don’t usually second guess adults. We tend to view them as infallible, since they’ve put in the time that we haven’t. So when Suzie told us that we were going to Broadway, I believed her. We all did. After all, everything we did was extraordinary, wasn’t it?
Our parents constantly reminded us to stay away from the tracks. Parents are always nattering on about things to avoid—eating before exercise, eating before bed, eating in bed, crossing the street without looking both ways, acquiring a lover who is ten years older with an addiction to Xanax, not getting grossly drunk at a wedding and peeing in the azaleas—that it eventually becomes hard to imagine they had any fun in their own probably non-existent childhoods.