Author: Wendy Xu and Leora Fridman

Wendy Xu is the author of the chapbooks The Hero Poems (H_NGM_N), and with Nick Sturm, I Was Not Even Born (Coconut, 2013). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review; La Petite Zine; Third Coast; Forklift, Ohio; Jellyfish; CutBank; and elsewhere. She lives in Northampton, and is the co-editor and publisher of iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books.

Leora Fridman is a writer, translator and educator living in Massachusetts. Her recent and forthcoming publications are included in Denver Quarterly, Horseless Review, The New Megaphone, H_NGM_N,  and others. She is an MFA candidate at the UMass Amherst Program for Poets and Writers where she is Assistant Director of the Juniper Institute and co-curates the Jubilat/Jones Reading Series.

Of Horse and Back & Part / Flails But & Or Beside Me & Toy Or/ Tricycle & Back to Back

Of Horse and Back

With all this space why don’t we
get bigger. Why don’t we say cracked
open like people like or say
failure went and left us. Now we have
these intricate mouths. Our lips grow
childish around children and grow pretty
pink shades. There are unthinkable
fish in the ocean. You say why can
you play when I can’t. You say you
think there was a time when people
were ponies. Where did they get
the field to run around in? I can’t
picture that color of land aching
toward sky. Evening is a dress you like
to wear. You take up all the space
you’re given in it. You are no baby
horse. You are no sweet ruff
of light in a garden. We decide
to split a pack of ruined cookies
when we get hungry on the last
train back. Someone else keeps
a spectacular life on the tracks.
Now we can’t not know what we know
but we let it not expand. We hold it close
and ruffle its hair. What do you think
about fences and longing? I think
of making noise once inside.

Part / Flails But

sagging on // brilliance is leafing toward
a bluff of white / a bluff of when we

sorted out // bright flapping
from a massive tree you / thought better

than tracking // you went over
giant diagrams / rational as a coat

billowing arms // snowing apart but
where are / you when you amass

those swells // go all schema beneath
light / you less figure than line

Or Beside Me

tapeworms belong elsewhere when I’m tired.
what do you think about it all on
the line? About putting it
where your mama won’t think
to go or call home. She shrugged
the piece off rather less
than brilliantly. Which brilliance
is the kind you think of first?
I think of seven movements
of wind. I take the one
a family won’t follow
because it has little left speaking
to a prairie. To an animal
speaking in a book. You mean
to catalog tiny nuances
of moral intention but instead sleep
inside where nothing
gets finished. Is this how
we fizzle out? Is this another
wriggling belt? Forgive me
a vacant smile – I’m
not always the smart arthropod.
When does everything become
neuroscience? Later on
a worm came back to me
and spoke: in pieces. And
then I could rest. It was
the moving that patterned me
fuzzy. Do you have shape
outside of me? Do you find
your body nonchalant?

Toy Or / Tricycle

My teacher said I took to it like desks pulled
apart when I took to mathematics.
I took your face apart into mine. I saw
red vessels that weren’t blood.
I sat on something dangerously fit
for talking when I talked that quickly,
when I thought no one would be
in this room. This room said things
back. My hand was like a flattening
disquiet. My teeth were like a terrible
flat classroom where they want
to talk but can’t, mostly because
a tricycle. Your bent shape was out
of a tricycle. In the tricycle you had
everything you wanted. What did
you want when you counted how
many tricycles there were on
the block? I don’t think you wanted
one for you. I don’t think
you saw me there at all
among the wheeling things.
This is just to say tricycles make
awful gifts. I wanted my old teachers
to come to the present
and admire me for trying.
They wanted something less
cyclical, but they respected
my hope related to hoping.
What did you relate to
in school? As in you
and me and what else was
meaningful? What went
into preparing for the test.
I go into the blush of an eye as
it closes.

Back to Back Because It Never Actually Happened

her noses pressed toward
a fine region in which I forgot
to bring what you wanted
for a souvenir. i know you
told me but somewhere there
was that low bench for
sitting and i got entranced,
you know how i get when the looking
is bigger than the materials
they hand out. her orange softly
tuned. I want to know what
region makes you feel you’re
visiting. is this something
everyone wants, or am I
furrowed like trees? Like how
trees can have oranges on
them when you call me. Look,
you keep calling me back from
my trips when I am inside
the water. I like these bitter
look-outs where you are almost
a duck. Wait, is that water lapping
an invisible edge somewhere
I can’t sit down on? I hate it
when I can’t touch my knees or
your knees like they are on
their own visit with themselves.
When the sky opens up
I’m not on a visit to anywhere.
Not a matter for hands. Not
a fruit for smelling. Everything
bitter or just peeling away.
Please stop calling. I’m no
known beacon at all.