The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2020

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JUL-AUG 2020 Issue


Mosquito wakes me up

Mosquito wakes me up in the night bites my cheek my knuckle
I hear it first in the right ear try to sleep and then the left
I’m giving up because sleepless now I bristle everywhere
with old humiliations what ring in me inexplicable stupid hot
and minor I have always thought of itch as property of mind
but of course some feelings do derive from things I can hear

cars in the street it’s about 4:00am I had a cup of hot water
with lemon I remember my parents warming their cars
in the morning before work the different chores I am relieved
I do not have to attend to I attend to my nascent Mahayana
practice world of mind or sphere is distinguished and continuous
with form as opposed to what in the West we might consider
matter form what we have no word for the thing-event the measure
the assignment of perimeter mind as openness within relinquishment
of human desire to classify I am thinking of this in terms
of itch and my desire to locate isolate diagnose what the feeling
is and where and how and to what extent and how can I
diminish and trying to determine what is indicative vs what is
and what the versus is or indicated the infinitesimal in the fulcrum

what hinges in the sieve what ugly variables curiosities performances
we contort ourselves and store unthinking but I lose the wind for example
the sound of light even as I remember light low hum I will go I think
for a jog the heel falling the ball and then the other make myself
known to me at what speed another car now I remember
the movement score we practiced to receive and embody and release
all of the information physical and psychic of a room how responsive
we are to this the richness of space damp erotics of the bass
now passing in the night I mean the morning the fourth car

the sound of the axle bouncing clicking a car door opening and shut
another acceleration an alarm now another door another car
my head itches things awakening moving turning into language
another car or perhaps one of the cars of the door before a bird another
car the sky most magnificent indigo now I never get to be with this
color remembering trying to sleep by synchronizing breath with
Max’s breath in sleep feel of him his hair his face the jewel lights
of another car there is something in the body his and my own
a feeling out disappears in without the obligation he is breathing
I am watching for feeling to become meaning more birds construction
I thought I had misplaced the pencil I was using and of course it was
in my pocket all along here where it hurt me and I ran all the same

Sex fills with memory

Sex fills with memory   of other sex. Forgetting.
   Brain like a weather vane  rooted to a barn and echoing
with entropy.   Brain is an organ   metonym for fire.
   Speech   what the switch makes      burn and disappear.

You are in my ear      with the part of you that tastes
   and I hasten in my meaning   to curl into a letter.
Skin becomes a brain   at the faintest stroke   of memory.
   Mind lights the organs    I am composed of  symbols

which have also truer function      beyond what they inhere.
   In   I am here I am by means  of preposition
the failure of a phoneme      to salt the muscle of a shifting.
   Body the mysterium the abacus   the disks titrate to form

the basis of a social sense.      Alien conspiracies made lingual
   by anatomy.   Mise en abyme      the faith of agony
and pleasure a net two bodies   apprehend in one another.
   Mind goes  a blessing I am vessel   for what consuming

I become.   A pyre of you appear   with every entrance
   I am getting   I am forging what the hole
makes in me makes a turning   when I think I am remembering
   what I see and what I hold      and what you are is disappearing.


We endeavor to experience the language that waits underneath the obligations we feel for language to mean, to impress, to communicate, to assemble, to work

We support ourselves and one another in finding what barriers may exist for us around the liberation of our respective speech

We try to get ahead of the habit to inhibit the unexpected and uncontainable pleasures of voice

Poetry is what happens when no one is looking


Take pictures of language as you explore a place you’ve never been before

Download your google search history

Dance for at least ten continuous minutes, lie down in corpse pose, if different places in your body were parts of a village what sorts of occupations would your various limbs, organs, and sensations have (my lungs are blacksmiths, my knees are cobblers)

Research the etymology of the first word you think of or look at, histories of usages, crossings of language and civilization, bastardizations, obscure and discontinued meanings, associations, etymology can come from something like Oxford English Dictionary, it can also come from Your Own Personal Etymology of a given word (its history and presences in your life)

Note language that feels particular to your job, whatever that may be right now (“work the file” / “ripe for social”)

Describe what you imagine to be the journey for every element of food within a particular meal, from ingestion, to preparation, to shipment, to cultivation, and maybe to a context that stretches even earlier than this

Compose a history of lovers where everyone gets one sentence

Compose a history of lies you have told

Zoom your view of a google map to a point where you can see names of towns and cities, imagine and describe the buildings, work, environment, spirit, colors, and any other associative perfumes of any place with a name that interests you (Lost City, West Virginia; Nothing, Arizona; Santa, Idaho; Hell for Certain, Kentucky)

Using only nonliteral and automatic terms, describe an unpleasant physical experience (headache, exhaustion, indigestion)

Identify as many manifestations as you can of grief, joy, agony, or curiosity around a particular element (rubber and where it comes from, its colonial history with Henry Ford in the Amazon, its applications in flip-flops, condoms, the tires of cars and tanks)

Write a continuous uninterrupted cartography of your body past the point where you feel you must stop

Describe your day so far but you can only use prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns; you can use these as though they were nouns, verbs, adjectives, but you may not use actual nouns, verbs, or adjectives

Write a letter to someone who is dead

Our visual experience of memory tends to be closest to language, but if you choose another sense, try to compose the most exhaustive catalogue you can of memories that come to mind; what are your foremost specific memories in terms of touch, scent, taste, sound

Look in a dictionary for a word you may have seen before but didn’t really know the meaning of (pusillanimous, propitious), attempt to translate into a dance or wordless song the meaning that is relayed to you, translate this back into any words that come automatically to mind

Make a list of questions, observations, critiques, and associations that come to mind when you look at pornography

Keep an ongoing list of one word selected from every news / media article you read

Describe any series of images you scroll through on social media, but only in terms of textures

What do you think might be the constitutive elements of particular dust in your home

Doesn’t It All Go to Vinegar Margaret

the calisthenics   the records  the portioning of
pleasure   the karmic deals we make with no one

but ourselves   and the conviction that a secret
can manifest a force of absolute and inevitable

justice   or work can     the raft I call
supposed to  the fractures  the splintered obligations

whose notions of purpose  lodge stupidly in the ball
of my foot  so intractable the pain becomes

the given  the duty   I mean the point
so I water the plants so I move the papers

from this pile to that pile  I sever my habits
from all of my devices       I sever my reliance

upon food subsidized by corn   and other sugar giants
I don’t   go there   anymore   anywhere

that requires an emission  above a certain threshold
I cut  what makes me sluggish  or enacts a kind of

harm which I regret to say is   kind of all there is
is harm   I regret to say    I say

and say it all the same   and this accomplishes what
the admission   the down to zeroing I have made

my sutra   speech the follicles of behavior
the dye    should I say  processed  I imagine

in an assembly line of   adolescent goths I have been
at different intervals the kiddo all of me  piddling up

inertia      with a constant want machine
if harm    is how I spend more than half my life

what does that mean for me democratically   meaning
is democratic yes  or no   determined I mean

by the most of us  or the more of us  at least
or if I am  more than half my life   asleep

does that become  reality   can it   could we
just say the real      is governed by the majority

or gerrymandered by the algorithms of our various lonelier
and lonelier diets or shall we acknowledge that

judgment  by systems of half  fail us as much as
nomenclature   by systems of two

fail  I fall I let the limbs go before the mind imposes
fall  I fill myself  with nothing where nothing was

and then I breathe again   as I have since I was born
the most minimal thing I can do   that qualifies as living

nothing fixes everything   but there is no future without
breathing or watering or falling   and so the three I do

I bind them  as I do my enemy  my ancestor
my beloved  my other  past beloveds

the stranger whose face  I have carried since the morning
the first person who appears when I pose the question

who have I forgotten and forsaken and for whom am I
grateful      and who may need the courage I do not know

how to send but do   I turn them  and myself
to the wild sorrel the lupines  in the north of the northern

hemisphere all turning toward the midnight sun in summer
a place without      a future without

clock watch phone computer job rent debt property
and I ask my friend the temporary monk

in your time here what was time  it was need she said
and aid   and did you feel   more connected or less

to the people you were here with  relative to what she said
beckoning adherence   where before was only opposition

pulverizing the whole into particles like ants moving hopelessly
in a line beneath a magnifying glass when it follows you this way

there is no distinguishing  instrument from power
from the one who wields it the one cruel sun the man

and the burning that I am  with you and you
we who everywhere make pestilence and green alike

spiraling up through the floorboard    out of structure
into momentum  a house of going  of wind of falling

and rising meeting cresting tangling breathing falling breaking
circling breathing  a house of mouths  passing breath

between them   us two mirrors which together make infinite
the distance the intensity  of a very brief moment   at the moment

we decide  to make it memory watching shadows of leaves
in the park while the harp goes     and piano  I decide

a particular hot lavender  setting left across the avenues
I decide   being read to held  made love to  while upside down

through the window’s blue square I watch an airplane
I decide       to remember    what is here and is

unfathomable    there   multiple leaving or arriving
I decide I am object   and subject at once I decide and this

is the rationale   that speech constitutes itself a material
but a decision is not an object  nor is vow nor promise

you cannot hear   touch taste give away  possess it
it can mean nothing I love it anyway  it can do nothing

I do it anyway    behind my house  another house
and this is everywhere the case     without a roof through which

trees grow  weeds   unidentifiable ferns all as dead
and thriving as any architecture of intention     unfulfillment

accident   abandon   with my one useless hand I eat the plum
and with my other  I throw the pit   into the other pit

Fragile Please

Romance is a glottal terroir composed in the imaginary.

We require an elsewhere to proceed proceeding being

The premise in the first place. Shelley or the knight speaks

In and of vernacular a tongue of other local the story or

Conditions have occasioned. Everything in the Romantic

Sense is crossing producing manifesting especially.

A claim is required for a sentence of Romantic type to proceed.

The mutual definition of subject and object is

A fiction of grammar unique to the West. West an imaginary

fixed from what meridian. Time an imaginary but only in

The Western sense of a line with eastward and infinite appetite.

West is a tautology gluttonous with self.

English has Romantic grammar but we consider it Germanic.

How does it develop. Through story and through syntax.

The scaffolding of empire is speech in its sprawl.

The knight is narrative and literal the story is a matrix and a script of order.

And in the voice of who possesses you you learn to form a mind.

I have a dream I am reading a poem by Elaine Equi called Manila Eclogue.

All I remember is a line Green Comes from Freedom which feels now waking

Very Rukeyser to me. Also Kandinsky – Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

Also this ink with which I am writing Herbin Vert Réséda.

Is an eclogue a morning poem. Aubade. I cross my vowels and consonants

And in the pleasures of sound I am freer incrementally from what it means to mean.

Reading in a dream I am writer and the sound that makes the writer

From the work which she is making the work which is a place I excavate

Through reading the text exponentially more archaeological the deeper in I go

And nauseating and delicious when language becomes sense without a referent

A haptic total I am tracing green and what it spools. I woke too early I think

It troubles my loved one like a cat territorial insofar as time. I am in the way

Of his morning ablutions. So I sit in the kitchen high chair unuseably elevated perch

Meant for quickly eating opening envelopes while to my left the green Kitkat clock

Wags its tail a gift from him for us. Green is time and the envelopes for business

Reply the postage prepaid to make the payment. In front of me the top fold

Of a piece of paper proclaiming THIS IS NOT A BILL. The piece of paper

Folded in what a kindergarten teacher would call accordion detailing sums of money

Which correspond with various medical testing. The paper titled THIS IS NOT


FOR TESTING and covered some amount THIS IS NOT A BILL this is just

The part you owe. This is the DEDUCTIBLE. Signed SINCERELY


About language are the inherently transubstantive properties.

But things do cling also to reality in spite of nomenclature.

Tried to cook an apple regrettably one had spoiled the bunch.

In Tagalog sentence structure is often verb first then object then the subject.

Spoiled the bunch the one. Subject last or what we think it is I am

The vocalizer at the end though what we I use my English here

Call end is in Tagalog a place equal with any other within a structure

More circular. Who went in to make it.

Well the Chinese the Malays the Arabs the Indians the Japanese the Spanish the

Americans occupied the language what changes my throat my mouth

Where the stresses and the tones fall when I speak are accreted and eroded

With extractions and exchange. The tongue I am a tourist to.


Unadulterated by its colonizers comes from the river I am here the I

Apart from me. There the river dweller. Yes is two circles Oo

Like binoculars I am waiting for what crosses the apertures

The I apprehends further constellations by which a navigation happens.

An archipelagic feeling not unlike oceanic but what I feel

Deep connection to is what is fractured and beyond me.

One must believe in what. Believe in must what one.

This is not a bill. C’eci n’est pas. La vie c’est. Tout der Welt.

Immer ein Erlebnis. Ist dieser Traum ma vie tao ka nang humarap.

Mein Welt ist nicht. Immer ist nie bilang tao kitang haharapin.

Tout n’est pas somebody. Niemand demanded ma danse.

Jamais may I magaling mandala. La monde the moon almond annuls

Lundi Dienstag Mittwoch Huwebes. In der Mitte von ma Vie

I vivre’d der ich. Liebe kaibigan ici. There I dare I put the sum.

Somebody put everything somewhere.


Kyle Dacuyan

Kyle Dacuyan writes poems and makes performance. His writing has appeared in Ambit, The Offing, Social Text, and elsewhere. He is the Executive Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2020

All Issues