Tuesday, December 20, 2016

jos charles, safe space


u may not know this about me
but i grew up a gay baby

in the united states of america
The united states was a then briefly lived

conceptual project performed by pop artist
john baldessari   Children

were a primary form of currency and u
would often see them

on beaches or in strip malls
advertising diet books and drinking espresso

On a typical day in the united states
people would send each other text messages

like what chemicals are in ur body
today   In the united states

u could always say sexualize my crisis
in the right poem   It’s hard

to believe but to this day they still hi five
each other in the united states   Once

when exchanging my brother’s favorite pathology
for a pair of cirque du solieil tickets

i saw a t shirt that said a hole
is a hole is a hole in fort myers, florida

Los Angeles “trans poet, writer and agitator,” as well as “founding editor of THEM—the first trans literary journal in the U.S.,” jos charles’ first book-length poetry collection is safe space (Boise ID: Ahsahta Press, 2016). safe space is a collection of lyrics writing out survival, solitude, “trigger warnings” and the failures of America and being American, amid a series of intimate acts and interactions. As they write in the poem “SEAGULL, TINY”: “There / is hope // of forgiveness, but / my american // corpse has been such / a disappointment // I would live on / feeling safe // and  spilling secrets [.]” Later, to open “POEM FOR SHIA,” they write: “I was always / impressed by / that / motherfucker / dante’s hell // I mean, the / sonofabitch / names names [.]” There is an attentive, fiery and savage wit that flourishes in these poems, one that names their own names and takes no prisoners. This is a pretty fucking smart debut, and one I would certainly recommend.


I wanted fixture of eyes
one nutritional fact and the sturgeon

Uncle in the bathroom, eyes
in the window in every time dream

I wanted tastelessness without color
theory   An empty room

to shut a window on the honeyed color
of visage   The sea waits

and a wise woman once said my element
is water   I lie constantly    The woman

is the internet and elements
are impervious to converstion

Remember the man the woman
and the woman’s body discretely

I want so much for our men

I wanted red

I wanted red

I wanted red

I wanted red

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