|Follow Amy King on Facebook |
and Twitter @amyhappens.
Of I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press), John Ashbery describes Amy King's poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. The Missing Museum is forthcoming in 2014 from Kore Press. King teaches Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and works with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Check her latest blog entries at Boston Review, Poetry Magazine and the Rumpus.
Be sure to check back next week for our interview with Amy.
For now, here are two new poems by her, with comments by co-ed Stacia M. Fleegal afterward:
|"Adrift," by Brian Mark|
24k gold electro-plated
to stainless steel with acids
I inhale foreigners everywhere and distribute
the smoke across Brooklyn. I am stationary,
waiting for you, dreaming America, Italy’s America,
Bosnia in America, Libya standing alone.
North Korea. Black Sea. Bruises too.
Yes, I give you everywhere as one who no longer is:
You were at my last death, purchased and reading
for meaning, the full of us, hand holding the sunset.
The great postcard of life is a home for my next death too,
the one you will wear like someone said her self is dead,
everyone’s dead, which is why we’re all here still.
She said herself in a garment torn
from the cloth of anything you’re currently wearing.
Fiction or fire? Fingernails sizzled in flame.
Is anything worth saying?
A man is only a man until she is a woman. You’ll be
the home for my next death, breaking now. Meaning,
I use “Kent-Ken” to call my friend. Her name is Josephine.
Life is ever lasting. And makes little sense by the end.
We go way back to the lost low days. Creatives running
the streets without names, we live holograms of potholes
and dying. Ours is a transitional form, a lubricant
for every gesture. Hand holding moonbeams within.
The radical position that all is incomplete also moves us further on.
Increasingly in a conceptual age, where parents end,
dictatorships begin. I just don’t see you when you’re not here;
I don’t trust you to have a kind of mouth or math,
a thing anyone may possess or add to.
A thing anyone becomes in numbers.
To be clear, you are nothing less than the critical awareness of us,
sitting in prison. The other New York is a solitude no one offers,
a useful anchor, a tired love, a dispossession of nothingness.
Fog alights; the science of things rages on.
Such motion. Movement that glows in its own wake.
Everyone else pays less; I have faded, and there is so little left,
you smell specks of rain hunting essence.
Everything tastes smaller with a spoon.
I drew a photo of my childhood for you and placed it
on the mantle for anyone to call home.
Those past go around eating that which already exists.
The rain haunts our shallows. As in this,
the easement to your conceptual, I slash your cheek
and call you friend. I’m preserving myself: the best way
to get this or follow me is high on whatever undoes how
you preserve yourself too. Experts are servants
to those in power who return things to "normal." Riot on.
The Future Includes Many Minutes
My hair is taking its time becoming hair
again, and I’m not that kind of pretty.
If every scar is a moment in time,
then every time is a sleeve of cutlery.
Being is the gash before healing.
I’m preserving myself in time, a severance package.
I was dreaming in my usual pattern,
as a self-inflicted wound.
I bled myself open and lost it in French.
A different finger is the one that hides the finger
we know, pointing at stars at death at hellfire
with the bullet hole pointing us out &
My shame is not enough. I need friends.
There is also the intrinsic death in my day each day.
O human, fallen by the subway platform.
I’ve been waiting for your next misstep, your intimate failings,
each my own. I twitch from the corporate fondle, and
I’m unusual today.
The strange rain awakens
the strange rain, which is out of my league.
The drops stir the plain in Spain, and you are the pain
my legs can feel as I drive the blood of my gladiator veins.
What is this. I love this.
I am unusual today. For you, victory elsewhere.
Next lap, our mile. Tell me too what I’m attracted to,
and I will employ you.
That is the promise of relational growing.
Spoiler alert: Everyone falls in love and dies.
Togetherness. You learn that in the class of the future,
the film version I’ve never seen, the one I rewound
to watch again yesterday. On repeat.
Stacia M. Fleegal on Amy King: “Experts are servants / to those in power who return things to ‘normal.’ Riot on.” could be Amy King’s ars poetica. Other writers might question notions of normalcy, but King wholly rejects them, not with hipster irony, but with the deep disdain of a wound-wise observer who knows she wields the power to distill society’s shortcomings as she sees fit. It’s hard to write political poetry that doesn’t screech, doesn’t annoy with didacticism, as it’s hard to teach without imposition. King’s tone is of a slow burn with an occasional whip of sarcasm, life’s lesson being that we are each of us unique and same, but deserving of the mic in however we choose to rock it -- even as she asks, "Is anything worth saying?" Without being flip, she slides from one line-as-mantra to the next, and is a poet of great associative prowess, so that even in the absence of a clearly plotable narrative, we trust everything she says because of how authenticated it makes us feel. And so that when she does drop the mic, we’re utterly with her (“My shame is not enough. I need friends.”), are saddened but not alone: “Spoiler alert: Everyone falls in love and dies.” Reading Amy King’s poetry is like accepting that we’re going to burn the world down, but aren’t flames meaningful?
About the artist: Brian Mark is a classically trained artist whose extensive commissions include police memorials across the country and work for the US Embassy in the Ivory Coast. His work is also in numerous private collections, including the Witt Family Memorial in the National Cathedral, Washington, DC. and The State of Main’s Houlton Courthouse. He resides in Maine.