The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2020

All Issues
JUNE 2020 Issue


A Gentle Touch

Anger is just a fold in water
where reason descends into
the structure of duck shit and sand
fear the objects beneath where
complex reality buries itself and has
no room for beauty, which is
sick and present. yours is not predictable
we are all it. and tag is permanent
and difficult

Protect your stomach, protect your heart
don’t patch up the seraphim on every letter
Bud light as calories is a real, calculable cell now
(I’m more fun than you I suffer
then multiple talking to shelves)
(I write all the time for the energy company
that is my shelf.)
I hear a radio outside saying, “Mr. Vice President!”
(I think – it’s late?) (I know my mind
is beyond infloa-tation.)
I’m not rebelling – I’m no longer just a curve
I miss hugging people not for me
to feel useful and safe
hearts. hearts. none as icons
there’s no way to know where in the data
writing from my second desk
to stay up late and remember
one problem needs another until it’s replaced
with a more center gear of a bigger disgrace
my OCD now / I treat like the child I
don’t have / that I still have to homeschool
now Tony is my lego muse / I bet the bridge
ride though / was glorious / just for those
six minutes / it’s just a daily question of are
subtle nudges / maybe? I guess
O this is the game I used to play!
No! we are not going down like this!
we have a semi-society we can enact
to buy time back – just read your own writings
enact! share carefully, specifically, and exact
this more than possible; this an opinion w/ need
of a nudge of many shoulders
Don’t abandon yourself, not now of all times
watched Skype horse the other day
no matching socks
it’s like a god-time piano
gray be-spattered cement
showing you an article on passage sweet
wood and wilderness sweet
looks of the rain, spring
and Shauns in dawn-looking shy


Diamonds in a Fritos bag indecent squeaking. Push
the broom over and mop out the
cardinals mating, the wood duck wooding
in the downed cattails / it fell on
my head like a poof in Sunday funnies
and clothing on mailboxes, you
have to sign for the pumice stones
oh dear shouldn’t say dear to
yourself so often. why not?
there’s nothing to see. twenty factors
on twenty bunches of leaf buds
drawn against territory, anything
else as listening at a species
there’s a lot of dishes
but my instinct
is to say fuck

For Jason Morris

Still some blue and white paint
by the stop saying Happy Birthday when
the needle skipped
minds put the shimmer and its sea stars
around me. I order maple bars
and chocolate eclairs inside my
head upon lower fingers curled
toward me like a bummed bronto
I get you buddy. I tell
myself to stop but I know, I won’t
let my mixture of cursive and
print remain open loops
I put my toe in the sink
and feel around for fire

Dank Editions        - for Sara

A haze of flowers
braids of utterance
dreams false, or
and memory
so I kick myself. gently
I like seeing my beard pink
crisp waters. solid air refreshener
inner places are telling their worlds
now. handwashing as the rinse
cycle of between spaces
a treasure to me through many valleys
that’s the best we are doing now
this biproduct. what we trained for

Walk With Me        - after Zach Wollard

Past the conch of emerald
fractured as the stations pass through
me hiding in the open light
of all darkness there’s a river in the
shape of a lake, the size of a pond
that opens into forest inside a cave
of waxy aventurine where bunnies sleep
out of sight so you can be one
with your loneliness. content as
the toothpaste on the breakers
keeps you barely awake
a leader of your own intentions
matching your eye to the crown
of an old, pale-blue moon, umbilical
closing your eye

Mule Attack

I realized I realized that my heart sunk in deeply
whoops. I should know by now
there’s a shadow mirror fucks about me
my world has become so narrow. do what I can
do what I can that’s it
the flakes are motions I miss the heart grades
with a curve now is a heartbreaking reality
switching stations pause okay, let your mind be free

Decorative blueness, the ore of ring
indistinct a golden millipede hides
from silk, its red trim crossed
at each corner a tidy Nordstrom’s
scarf to wear to the clubs
if clubs there were. linden chocolates
bowls of odd buttons floor of the world
I love you too. I just can’t touch
you w/ our over-sunned lips they age me
the walls / if you spin like an infant on the verge
of stronger stuff, the wall zoetropes
private Q train radiator hollows
the bouncing oblong and rhombus of
your amorphous shadow time outside
reflection. a clean brass knob
on an indistinct door

Right page slaps right hand so I
don’t regret writing this
listening to music alone feels
useless. and I should get scolded
because that’s false, a bummer
and my cursive is loose. tonight
the lightning insurance company
is fresh out of detectives
small clouds of wild grass
gather round the elm singing
anything by Willie Nelson
smells of fry bread, red
need to call J but cooling crispys
still, in my hand. J sends me
faces made of stacked emojis listen to
two cars wash by and a metal rake
it’s the eight sense the underbelly
of a smile on a friendly snake
prone to ticklishness. my therapist
says my place is not as he imagined


John Coletti

John Coletti is the author of Deep Code (City Lights Books) and has a book forthcoming in 2020 from PUSH titled Peppermint Oil.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2020

All Issues