The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2023

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MARCH 2023 Issue

A Note on We

A Note on We

over a long term there comes to be a we

we comes

to enforce certain grammatical patterns

bodies to fit semantically into a series of weeks

and months    call that we a family

or couple    partners    lovers    leaves    siblings    hooks    friends    readers    weeks and months

become years and generations and continually

subject verbs object    subject verbs object    subject verbs object

and long term is a series of sentences where the subject becomes fixed

along with its verbs and objects

and a family tree is a series of lines to fix the subjects

into an arboreal we that verbs its objects

we becomes a series of sentences strung together    where the one

only makes sense because the one

before has preceded one    we thinks one understands

even as we doesn’t    I was born here but grew up elsewhere    for example

grammar is a structure like a sapling in need of continual unrooting

to set down roots    the shepherd’s hand massages soil so aeration allows growth

and unrooting is a story told or untold    well-folded

An undercut is surgical    fleshy    undermining    toppling

So this is not a memoir    we is dealing with official knowledge    absorbs aspects

she asked    but how to do that without it getting more oxygen

than it has already taken?

and because we so deeply imagines how the upcoming sentences will play out

we knows or we out-stretches

narratives into past and future

should we resist an idea    stories that must be told    the seduction of story

storytelling to undo the dominant story told    or we undone    M. Nourbese

Philip “Only in not-telling can the story be told”

how does we let each member be one

we asks ourself

how does we imagine every day    to render ourself surprising present

also as in gift a present    How does we let our sentences renew    recreate

and we generations and generations lay interwoven

under sheets     stained

covered with cums    plural in that other foreign language

that makes this language foreign    also something unknown and pleasant

and some of that energy

arrives to previous phrase

comes on we    begonia

we insists on speaking othered tongues

across boundaries    old new tongues entirely

we finds ways to support a move

into old new grammars    piece together alternate clauses

out of old new alphabets and sketch characters    What can be fabricated out of this

something unknown and pleasant    of this    what is known already or the languages

in which already    or this between-language that is    as they all say

you both talk exactly the same    you the same as your great-great-grandmatriarch

and your gaylover

and your sister    History is continually made to be coherent

but present this rupture    the constant disturbance of timeline

a repetition of circles    what has we come looking for a hook up a lick

an apology    an impossible expungement    and it’s true how phrases have interlaced

but    still there are those times

when we slips

What does we make of this something unknown    or misknown and pleasing

of this what we knows or the tongues in which already we has moved

those mounds    Gulf Coast oyster mounds    fabricated into Modernist concrete

re-fabricated by Jamal Cyrus into a triangle    paired with sargassum

laid on the floor    Difficult to know    what is our MO

or where one narrative ends

and the other begins    Where to place the comma    or how to maybe add

three spaces there    a red wolf in Galveston become a canid    because we has come together

we has provided an array of options that we is always looking

at    but now that we is not in the same common place

we stops or

pauses    or we tries out old new grammatical shifts learned

from other lovers    other town squares or histories

that fallen branch

other syntactical structures or variances to enliven

deadened dead-end sentences    lines    branches

not always just go go go    on to the next

no no not

we finds a ritual to pressurize the moment

or we is constantly pulling things or thinging the pulls

she asks    How do you not make something

that is just a clever queer version of a space they already know    We constantly

things the pulls in new ways    some things some one’s said

during the day become hooks for we

your adventures or mine    We likes how it makes our structures public    our slip-ups

life is not a series of line breaks or fragments    or it is

about narratives as joinings of clauses into sentences

a string of sometimes independent but more often subordinate clauses

subordinated look to find a way to join up

and the struggle to do so    and how the run-ons keep on

running on

dependent narratives intertwine    so “quite obviously” it does not “make sense”

to suddenly make just one moment the way that hooks are one moment

or no sense is the least important thing    Stress in English is not natural

she says and not like the thump thump thump of your heart

bassoon bassoon bassoon    contrabassoon

contrabassoon contrabassoon

the interdeterminate we has made a way to string sentences

to take a subject and verb it

and then object    object our way into another verb the way things unfit

thingether    always askew

old new structures allow new old structures to lean

collapse     relax    we breathes in an old new way

our coming together

object verbs subject    verb objects subject    object subjects verb

all of we    endlessly    comes


JD Pluecker

JD Pluecker works with language, as writer, translator, and artist. Their book of poetry and image, Ford Over, was released in 2016 from Noemi Press, and in 2019 Lawndale Art Center supported the publication of the artist book, The Unsettlements: Dad. From 2010-2020, they worked as part of the transdisciplinary collaborative Antena Aire. More info at and


The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2023

All Issues