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from the September 2018 issue

The Poem as Epiphyte

Fady Joudah offers a poem in conversation with John Ashbery's work on the first anniversary of Ashbery's passing.


All this talk through a tunnel 
of kid gloves and landmines went underground.

You were catching my limbs
in sequels and spoofs, commemoration my organs

with friends lost, whose names like patients’ names.
Our clumped desire stirs and how

when unwound, as with DNA, it sweetly wounds us.
Hope in the right place, you said, is hope misplaced

or no hope at all. But I say, in my dreams I dream, 
in my dreams I do not hope.

Where were you when was I? Counting down
the decades for the prize as victim of our previous war.

Were you my cactus heart and kelp forest,
a gluttonous hunger I ate myself famished,

an app, a tower or two, and flew 
as a swan flies into a sand file that said, 

“No more monkeys dead on the bed”?
In my dreams the universe anneals for tents 

that fall like mamas from heaven.
And you were tablet and me pill,

surgery and me drone, firefly
and me shooting star, where

when my clone was made interminable 
no illness could.

And the space between raindrops a shelter,
the mountaintop a lake,

the gecko an oriole, the athel a bulbul,
and I was seagrass and you 

the banyan.


© Fady Joudah. All rights reserved.

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