055.1: Joshua Marie Wilkinson:: Poem for Julie Carr & Poem for A.C. 055

Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s two poems here are both dedications. The first, to fellow poet Julie Carr, compliments by admitting frustration. The second, to the ambiguously named A.C., teeters between happiness and danger in every line. Quick to read, both poems seem deceptively easy. For those of us who have followed Wilkinson’s career, this is the moment when spelunking begins. Wilkinson’s lyrics have the sparse yet rugged qualities of a cave passage twisting here, opening there. His poetry has a tendency of slowing to a crawl and then tumbling into a chasm. In “Poem for Julie Carr”, line breaks spin us around tight corners: verb phrases like “flick off” are split, the bridge’s “wobble” is its own suspension. “Poem for A.C.” speaks with a bravado part macho and part wounded. The intensity of the emotional range is matched only by the tension: there is a sense that the speaker of the poem knows his addressee well enough to claim: “You know the moon might as well fold”. But the “you” remains chimerical. A brother? Keats? An old acquaintance from college? In the end, any answer is glib. Wilkinson’s writing is delightful because there isn’t a switch to flick on in the first place; we explore these dedications in darkness, trusting that his touch will lead us through.

A third poem from this series, "Poem for Garrett Caples," is available as a broadside in Chapvelope Two, which also features chapbooks from Gillian Conoley and Emily Motzkus, as well as art by Halsey Chait. Order by Tuesday, March 29 to receive our special pre-order offer of $10 ($2 off list price). Ryan Winet

Poem for Julie Carr

The hunt’s on in
the night book &
I try to flick it
off like a reading lamp

but your poems don’t
flick off so good, Julie Carr.

It’s leaching like
salt in the truck
bed, a bridge’s got
the wobble—
what if we imagine
the worst to
harvest it up & try
to keep the violences
off the porch?

What’s standing here with us
breathing its breath breathing
its breath here alive in waiting
for what we aren’t human enough
to endure.

Poem for A.C.

Wish I didn’t feel out how
desire clocks the grid.

Mosquito nets around the poster
bed, so who’s in here?

I broke a rule when I answered
my phone in class & it was you.

A bag of apples. What kind of
swimming is available?

It’s you and a bunch of undergrads
badmouthing the motherfucker you
may as well know I am.

Keats breathing onto
a letter re-reading him.

A brother off like a
stunned border dog,
half happy unsafe out alone.

You know the moon may as well fold.