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Under Pressure

Yes, I did know I was being used, & how. That’s one
of those songs someone’s singing each second.
A seed-tray sprouts in the shed’s darkest corner. Friday ten kids
got shot. Tuesday a hurricane unshucked trees to matchsticks

two counties over. Just now I danced with a girl & when
night breaks, she’ll find another. I can’t align with why I should hurt
my way up…  nor why we ache to rely, & to believe for a moment
time’s malleable, & grows back green, & to forget hunger’s tender

current. Slow star, quick blade. Night doesn’t fall
or break: it seeps like blood plumes in water—as silt,
as cream, as madness seeds wind.  Books are a sheaf
of corpses in the language of the victors. I’m to want to ink

my name on one in order to eke out my clearing. Houses are hollow
reliquaries built from books. I’m sidling toward the door, a curtain
of 4/4 pulsing at my heels. I throw my career under a bus
whenever possible, but I’ve never wanted to carve my love

into bark. Others have. Men on mountaintops blazed paths
with their white names long after people palmed caves inside mountains
& blew red powder to show where they’d pressed. One removed;
one accrued. Most of what I think about is how to get smaller

so there’s more later. Good days, I’m frightened by this terrible tenderness
tendriling in me: what’s not discharged festers. Maybe I’m not cruel enough
to claw my way into the junkshop’s interior, but I can’t help dismantle the empire
when I’m this stricken: knotting & unknotting my scarf,  trailing my trauma

to the chip aisle again. I know this: bad nights, every angle’s a wall & shadows blur
but what seems set against us is only itself, breathing quiet. Listen. If trees could talk,
they wouldn’t. That sigh isn’t tree. It’s wind. Driving, your oasis is heat: you’ll have
responses to this & the responses will have responders— the reams of ancestors

floating between us are who should be addressed. They can’t be repaid. I’ve this long
white debt. Various vistas will sweep around us, glow, get razed.
I should maybe go West for a bit. I’m sorry. The aftermath
of destruction is predictably peculiar. A hurricane, for example: after a flood,

fires start. One goes back. One’s never done.








elegy with music box & warm deer blood

each invitation chloroform
trembling in ionized air
reject their strings
reject the duck I 
cleaned of buckshot I
can't remember when the
attacks started
but they haven’t
stopped something
will be sore tomorrow
I don’t know what
but I’m doing it now
I bit the hands
that starved me
but they
were mine
just blow on the dice
& go
you know how
when numb fingers
get inside
they burn?
think of me
as that







Nina Puro

NINA PURO is a poet, human, & queer weirdo whose writing is in West Branch, Guernica, the PEN/ America Poetry Series, & others. A member of the Belladonna* Collaborative; author of two chapbooks (Argos Books and dancing girl press); recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Brooklyn Community Pride Foundation, the Deming Fund, & Syracuse University (MFA, 2012), Nina cries and works in Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2016

All Issues