Amy King


Look down. Naked.
Where did you get this body,
perfect with golden bruises,
its tattered pattern and beaten tissue,
a youthful master tucked behind a spooning heart?
Oxygen’s the bacteria we extract from tea we sip
and help we turn out.

Look down, naked.
I should draw perspective,
the shortening legs, the closer torso,
the thinner arms that wrap around. So much.
We are full-tilt city, still buildings who howl to buoy ourselves.

Declaring the death of poetry,
declaring the context of concept is the cradle of words
confuses no one. You are the one
investing position. Battening hatches. Writing a furious nudity.

A piglet in your meadow is the same misapplication
of love that love begot. I read before begetting.
When I was not. I am younger than this minute;
I read the dark. I have a phone, but not to call you.
I have a phone to beget the dark.

I am younger than this minute. The water opens,
water opening and I see the shape of summer’s cemetery
begging the dark, emerging at the island’s ankled smiles.
The Botanical Gardens beget what water,
what water comes. Grab its ankles,

Write what you see. The sea’s a nudity.
Every anger has its place, seated among us,
begetting. The Big Bang? There’s another. Sometimes,
you begin without end. Filling a soul is an empty
pocket from midnight to noon, in either direction
just like back roads hole up. Travel now. Get an empty pocket of soul.
Feel the seams up.

These seeds from the Walking Willow crack
soft, sweet against my teeth. New York City has become
a burly drag queen the rich mayor would like
to put in her pretty little place. A sidewalk tree bound.
No one is an empty place.
We are fat slugs your father chubs his chuff upon.
We feel the emptiness in place.

In your cigarette hands I lay my head. Write what you see.
Knuckles that know how to work with what.
If I had a hammer? Hard to say, I go
straight impromptu, not saving wood or nails but full-on
thatch-roof hut. O Governor’s Island, I make the hurricanes work.

I called a baby deer to the table’s head: Baby Deer,
enter here, this future meal. Tell me the sinew used
to make way through shrub and midnight
and all you dream for This Next Life, the drizzled days
masquerading night, the light you darken a wooded path with.

Make way to what was among us, once if never
is a ravine you leap your dove-white-snow tail across.
Thickened pupils and jewelry hooves, tell me ten score
and forty years over, how the west was once a part
of a break in the glittering stream you lap with human lips,
the light of expansive moors!

Come split your shank and drip strings of muscle
down my face into these entrails,
absorb our cells into epidermal earth;
ignite my noose with your only apple-spell. Forget
the heterosexual dollar demanding its due now.

Through Colorado I rode, carrying the boroughs,
Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens all the way west, winning
the entire way, across my back. Boulder broke horizon,
blue’s blood spilling the deer inside. A doe and a stag.
I don’t feel like pulling in or going up and over.

I go on, pulling the lake’s silver sleeve around Boulder’s
shoulder, Bhanu’s hottest field of sun into immigrant hydrogen—
every anger has a place. What comes before feeling?
The feeling that the scarlet song is raw walnuts milking
down the back of one throat, the hide of a hare
turned to socks that ribbit the frog it was before

That will beget a parallel future, a transcendent position
on mountains and the Bowery’s river bottom with crabs.
Whole intellects queer adoption and a black cauldron pot
pours over with births the baby hips have borne,
redundancy’s eyes dancing out, watching back.

We jump the Book of the Dead watching back at us.
We are backs and fronts; we write what we see. A nudity.
The light turns smoky white into baby skin, and we forget
the people stolen from continents without leaflets
escaping religious persecution, we forgot.

We structure the fire and suture the flames
on the freedom of public parks and petals we hide behind.
What comes before feeling? We shrews that wink
a secret-no-secret, enforceable personhood, drinking the tasteless.

And the corpse of the new rose into everyone,
conjured herself, full of diabetes, cures, chimney sweeps
and modern day movies filmed long ago. She willed herself,
begotten, The Woman who was three, spoken
as Carrington, Varo and Fini lining the empty pocket.
I heard the pelican in her voice.

The women entered dirt floor kitchens, hardened
with smoky taboos—they lit pipes and cooked Mexican fishes,
mashed green pastes and searched for vermin to name,
looking through tenement windows long since empty
in the nameless borough’s name.

Write what you see. They spice soups with weeds for sons,
husbands & wives. Thus was the hyena of their horse,
the bitch who ate garbage and wafted into phoenix
while others prayed to paint it. For every god, a witch,
for every monster, a heathen cat.

One minute things turn great and horrible, the sun a setting
in an upside down sea, and then the end is temporary.
Write what you see? Nothing exists, the same as nothing else.
Nothing is nothing, which is why there is so much.
The rose garden blows, but what explains us.

Love is an alchemy, love is ellipsis,
and everything’s watered with air.
You are in position, and I am younger than
this minute, a piglet in your meadow,
the same love that love begot, the baby urban deer.

Amy King teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College, co-edits Esque Magazine and the PEN Poetry Series with Ana Bozicevic. Of her most recent book from Litmus Press, I Want to Make You Safe, John Ashbery described it as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.”  Readings, reviews, and more @

No comments:

Post a Comment