The Work

Inside a straight line,
There is solace.

In water,
There is a small gift.

The heart's souvenirs
Pile up under the tongue.

It is easy now
To do the work,

Always becoming
A scent on the path.




Is there a crisis?  So many faults.  What's the
Big fucking deal?  Body glaring over the Seine,
I think that it's simply what could be done.  The
Phenomenology of another day, how well did

You know my hands?  Lushly dark, filled with
Gestures, the greed of giving myself to you has
Got me going back to my mystical beginnings.
I don't remember who bought the drinks, but

Somewhere, a little neighborhood cafe teems
With iridescent atmosphere.  The birth pangs of
This molting, the arrival to this rocking chair,
When thought goes to sleep, poetry is the only

Currency you have.  Those stars fastened to the
Gate are going out.  Take this, it's meant to be a gift.





Grind of the dumped, what I wanted from that
City!  Being in the presence of pure love, then
Coming back, is disappointing.  Repetitive, broken,
How to tell it all, how to relate back to the highways

Folding up, radiant.  So now I know, there is an
Afterlife.  I've known for a month, but could only
Tell a very few.  Dirty, shattered, this world has
Seemed a void to me, a lick between skin and spirit.

Listen, I am human, but everything is upside down,
I don't know how to tell it anymore.  The firmament
Leaks out gasoline, how strangely blurred everything
Is!  There is a pure fog covering us now, and I really

Don't know how to go back to the other age fluttering
Behind us.  Trying to understand, trying to relate,
I fail miserably in the dissembling moment.  Music
Plays all night, and I go on pretending I don't hear it. 




The Joy of Living

Unreachable shine of language, pouring--
You can almost drink it!  Today I came back
To the dreaming sleeves that drape my mind
With neon.  Scrim and claw of enamel words,

Joe fixing the computer, I'm standing here,
Shaking with joy, and my fragile armor is
Turning into flame.  Grass thickened by night,
Thrill of this flesh this adrenaline, the bones

In me are only vanity, objects marked with
Cloth.  Give me something durable, the pitted
Screens straining the last winter through
Them, and I will give you heaven ringed round

With shame or pride, and sit at the foot of
Things, that rug that holds my shadow for forever. 




Letter to the Reverend Jane Brady

Sickle-cell November sky, the way the bones
Chip at the mention of evening.  What I once
Was crumbles at midnight.  Hiding beneath these
Blankets, rosary said, cats fed, I try but I can't

Find sleep.  No further from the cross was I,
And it was like a lovely bird offered me something.
The shoulder of the wind nudges by, and I concede
The answer.  The corn is not high, the thistles

Not light anymore, I have stopped counting the
Days.  Papery things fall from my hands, and I
Stand by the Hanover Street Salon, a four-leaf
Clover in my two fingers.  I am proof of the

Survival of trees, bending in the wind, but never
Breaking.  Salvation, revolution—it all gets
To me so personally, like poetry, like energy,
Like news that never was, and like truth stripped

Of all its accouterments, and vague thoughts of home



[Noelle Kocot is author of eight full-length collections of poetry, most recently of God’s Green Earth (forthcoming with Wave Books, 2020). She is also the author of two chapbooks, a discography and a book of translations of the poet Tristan Corbière. She teaches at The New School, and is poet laureate of Pemberton Borough, New Jersey. ]

Copyright © 2019 by Noelle Kocot, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.