The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2023

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FEB 2023 Issue


Ohio/Myanmar; Jan-Feb 2019


Hollow shape
of yearning
a palimpsest
blue light hovers
gaze      removed
from your world this

Muddy    rivers      over China
the particular      invisibility
of weariness

Without demarcation
the arm moves      in the room

that it feigns a line
of any kind

the dream a thing
named      perceivable
but also
already gone

As witness    an exclusion
having forgotten
your own grammar      abstraction
of panic      in deep night
fans’ tides
full wakefulness


This wait for light
averts      a    wandering
premise      betrays

because mosquitos
are weak fliers

attune haptic        to form

but    on arrival
is murky
sallow        a wash

body while adjusting
intelligently      enough
still bloats

sky a prism
doubts      reflect

pre-dawn pierced
with feedback      screech

body slips or
tilts slightly

what I crave could be shape
or could be ease
of anything
in    language
at all


To    find
disrupted quiet
a tending

landscape turned toward
humanity      at a pitch &
angle so surprising
as to be      outside
of environment

collections of phenomena
no less spectacular than
any construction I might like
to imagine
everything a strange friend
might find
within forests
reaching up into a hazy sky


In the morning
flat surface      chants fall
into utterance
then quiet
its preternatural

tissue-thin      end game
empire leans
against glass
and in    rough fields
in the sun


Grammar props
days      stretched
like dry tongues

anti-malarial    misfires
subtropic tendency
toward      void
drowns out     voice

scrappy trees    loose
mustard-colored blooms
to parched dirt
where they’re taken up
and skewered
on   a stick

resonant syllable
collapses     on a narrow
concrete path      sequence
but a strand, weakest
of chains     holding you
to this earth


Shredding noise forms
amorphous calcifications
in the mind affording
lapses      of interest
from the outside reviewer

despite pact details
campers started coming apart
at the seams

baseline consequential
volley arrives
family      clutching retainer
nearly detonated a
table carried out
to cover bare floor and
swept through the rooms’
air on oscillated
kayma nan meh Jessica ba
kayma nan meh ba ma thandar tin ba


In sudden lights’ attend
whisper    of    chill unspools palely

time and
stillness    birdsound
as greeting
would portend

plural norms    the culture’s
noise its      etiquette

uninvolved as a
kind of habituation
chatter redubs    ability figurations
posing    as furniture

peripatetic      adamant
rooster’s call trains’
whistle as said
by the people
can they then
speak      or not speak respond
or not      the interesting
notion of living
as a companion
uneasy    windows’ slim harm
a floor a plan a tension
will classify      with or
without     threshold

nothing and a page
encased in semantics
both particular
and broad

said without grammar the trial


Powdery earth rises with
each step
into plumes

wash of detainment
the hours
it took      not to say
an original quiet
so light      it was
nearly      unhearable

our confinement
to imagine the tone applies
without affect
to the grammar instance we

to feel the country
in the lungs      ash
and a rote      exuberance

pulls the eye
toward the outer frame
of any picture      they
can surface      as refusals
quail eggs
in rings      on a pole


Way to land
in a day    free fall
and further flatten
time congesting
seeming redistribution
of air    full breath
hard to take
not able
in the shallow morning
to determine the origin
of this overcast
water molecules
give    gasses
a run
through hum and buzz
of dawn screeds & birdsong


Jessica Grim

Jessica Grim is author of Vexed (BlazeVox 2009, and online from /Ubu Editions), Fray (O Books, 1998), Locale (Potes & Poets Press, 1995), and The Inveterate Life (O Books, 1990). With Melanie Neilson she co-founded & co-edited Big Allis (1989-2000), a magazine focusing on experimental writing by women. The full archive is at She has participated in writing communities in the SF Bay Area, New York, and northeast Ohio. She lives in Oberlin, Ohio.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2023

All Issues