The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

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APRIL 2021 Issue



It is the stubble
I love first

  with an envy.

     A ridge of scrub runs
         along this canyon edge.

I hate hiking.

True story:
  Near our home there was a garden.

  To get there:
     hike the canyon edge.

In the garden there is a stone
bench in shade,
faucets of cool water,
dog-bowls to drink.

            (A bead of sweat
               buries its face into his scruff.)

For God's sake Yes
      this is a memory of thirst.

The way saying parched
      blows over the drying tongue.

In this moment we are both relentlessly alive.

            (Brother, in the garden they said there was a tree for you.)

There is a map in his lips.

  I hate hiking, but obviously let's explore.

For God's sake okay
      I'll skip the explicit—

Time drifts   apart.

On Facebook, he writes that his little brother died.

                Suicide, he says.

True story:
Near our home there was a forest.

   Once, and then a fire.

            (brother, do you remember this?)

            (brother, it was around when you died.)

For God's sake

I’m sorry, I’ve written again
   something  something
  something something
     something about a tree.

             Too thin
             for a boy
             to climb.

For God's sake
   we water that tree

         It is loved   so loved.

         and dead,
                but still.

notes on the fog

Dear brother,
      after they brought him home,
   to the home, all of us lost
      It wasn’t solidarity.
               It was
   decay. My shoulders eroded
   from not hitting the gym.
   I only write to you when the bad news comes.

You’re tired. Do you want to go to bed? Do you want to just sit?


Dear brother,
      how does the world make trenches,
   if not out of dead fathers?

   How does the world make fathers
   if not out of driving to school?
                  (Did he read to you? He read to me too.)
   He believed he raised a good son.
                  He raised a son
   who didn’t believe. And when he fell
                   he fell soundless

                     into the sea.


And so I use this detergent, and this setting should be fine?

Yes, but don’t wash them with those clothes,
they’re your father’s, they’re contaminated.

Okay, I’ll
Put them on the floor.
The floor.
Not on top of the dryer,
the floor.


Dear brother,
   they will bury him one plot over from you.


Dear brother,
      this is what I wanted to say:

   that the nurse came in
   to do exercises with father, sets of curls,

   flys, swims. It was a long-
   term maintenance thing.

   And mother stood up
   all banana-yellow sanitary gown

   and did them together, too,
   and there was a move

   the nurse called the Travolta,
   and it looks just like you’d think, and our

   mother (grave as a stone) bobs on her heels,
   wiggles her hips, the nurse counts

   the reps, and father is laughing and laughing
   and lit in the eyes of the sun

   and for a moment a moment
   I’d never seen this (have you?)

   they’re dancing
      they’re dancing again


Dear brother,

   long parts of me are still wolves.

elegy for Third Engineer

For you, in the background of the movie,
riddled with bullets then spin-kicked
into glowing green goo

by Our Hero, Saint
Chiseled-Jaw who bursts in
at third act to save us all from

whatever. He's not my hero.
He killed you, Third Engineer,
along with Second and First

without so much as a one liner,
the ones he saves
for the named. You had

a name. Tenure track
at the Lair of Doom,
crushing on Dead

Secretary, waiting
to leave for the day.
Not even your death scream

was your own: it belonged to Man Bit
By Alligator, again. Third Engineer,
I would have lit candles

for you at the memorial service
because I've lit them before,
every time my people are killed

by a hero bursting through the door
and just hosing away.
He was glorious and terrible,

wasn't he, lit from below like the God
of School Lockdowns, God
of Hey What's That Noise God

of Ma'am I’ve Got
Some News About Your
Son god He

looks damn good, don’t he?
So beautiful I could cheer.


James Fujinami Moore

James Fujinami Moore’s debut collection Indecent Hours is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2022, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street’s 4x2, Guesthouse, The Margins, the Pacifica Literary Review, and Prelude. He has received support from Poets House, Bread Loaf, and the Frost Place, and received his MFA from Hunter College in 2016.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues