Poetry Journal 2, 2017

1 comorbid by ginger ko


New words:

Interdictionary – interdiction, dictionary = to prohibit, intercept

Derelictionary – derelict, dictionary = poor condition due to disuse

Comorbid – two diseases interrelated and entwined

  • Like sexism and racism – two intertwined systems of oppression, can hardly be understood apart from one another. Metaphor with diseases – ‘social ills’



So… I speaking to you.                                                                                    (it me Mario)

  • Assumes subject talking to object or another subject
  • “I” would be speaker, author, implicated reader
  • “I” as a subject or being over time or ??? or a selfie
  • Selfish shellfish sell fish she shells herself by the seashore she’s sure she’s moored she’s a shell of a girl she’s a hell of a girl she’s a girl – here, the third person is me (jk kinda)
  • “I” as a “you”
  • Asks, Demands
    • Accusation? Adversarial? Inviting? Do I identify with I or you?



So anyway… I think that speaking I to you makes it more personal or intimate, the poem and especially the delivery of the poem when read aloud to an audience. I sure like one on one conversations! 😊Also leaves the intended audience and speaker vague though. Comorbid lacks character descriptions a lot! That lends to me to perhaps empathize more by creating universal subject / objects that I can fill in with my own background experience or sort of fill in the blank. Perhaps can be problematic depending on the audience’s familiarity with subject matter? I / You is also a binary of subject/object and might lead to otherization if it’s not looked at critically and non-statically, but I think Ko does a good job of pointing out power – and the relationship between I’s and You’s and subjects and objects which exist in society – it’s realistic


confession, call-outs, and power:


if a confession is an admission of guilt / imperfection, i think confession lends ethos to the poems and makes them emotionally honest and relatable, makes me feel like im in on a secret. confessing things always makes me feel better. i hate secrets! sometimes.




call-outs on racism and misogyny are probably good – poem mentions individual accounts and people or rhetorically suggests that with the i/you delivery. but also I think the poems could be call outs of systems rather than individuals (implicated in language such as — ‘post-capital child’)

  • ‘call-in’ versus ‘call-out’ debate – you call out a problematic behavior or action then call in the person into a new way of being that is less racist or misogynistic. when does this end with repeat offenders, how does it interact with notion of safe/inclusive spaces? whose duty is it to call-in and educate especially if that education can be difficult if someone is being invalidated based on their identity


power – “everywhere more than air” — power dynamics of identity, identity as unfixed/fluid over time, how everything can be abstracted and connected and viewed through so many angles. “i never was observant / never learned the specific names of trees and plants” multiplicities of power. when power is tangible like bruises or audible like shouts. power and control, control over more than just one’s own body, control over others’ bodies, the relationship between power and violence, the desire for power, control, and order and the fear of death and projecting that onto other bodies.


(her whole home is full of black hair / until at school one day she procures / a long blond clipping. She brings / it home, foreign object (treasure), /

  • Violence in beauty and power and beauty standards and normalization of certain kinds of beauty / idealization of certain kinds of beauty as the best beauty and how that marginalizes other forms of beauty – whiteness / western beauty standards, bleach bleach bleach creams and solvents

(small plaques of malice)

  • Representations of beauty standards unattainable, simulacrum replacing the real with regards to what is upheld as beautiful

(having a white husband … never stop to ask if he thinks of our bodies during sex)

  • Most intimate moments power relations still exist and should be examined – what lies outside of language? What lies outside of power? (nothing?)








Resistance, vulnerability — takes a lot to be vulnerable, emotionality is a form of resistance in a cisheteropatriarchal white supremacist capitalist society that preaches rationality and stoicism as the best in terms of value and production. I think this is a systemic thing and also has to do with ableism especially in regards to mental health — mentally healthy people (also this is a capitalist sexist thing, need to be healthy and able and independent to be productive, those are hypermasculine traits (dominance, independence, autonomy, virility)) so by being effeminate you’re kind of resisting patriarchy especially if you politicize it. are emotions less valid if they have a goal, like resistance? Is that manipulation? Depends on the context probably, plus every reaction is arguably a form of political affect, especially if the personal is political and neither agent within the scenario is a stable fixed subject and all are shaped by their environments, their socialization, their genetics and one another time and time again. That’s why community is important even though it feels hopeless




inner and outer self and




Parenthesis – Additional info, Asides, Hidden info underlying what is said, suppression (repression?)

Humor – exaggeration like in ‘feminism’ or verbal irony between what is said and desired


When I pretend I don’t talk I am asleep:


My half Filipino friend has been reading about colonialism and the Philippines recently, her genealogy and she specifically mentioned colonial mentality to me and how it put words to a lot of feelings she’s felt before, all her life – how she doesn’t fit in with the Asians or the White Folk or the Hispanics or anything, how her cousin who isn’t really her cousin in California said she’s whitewashed, how she doesn’t want to wear Supreme like her cousin who isn’t really her cousin and all his Filipino friends. I validate and support her in this decision then ten minutes later she is saying that she does not believe in politics. I am BEWILDERED! I said how do you not believe in politics if you believe in colonialism, who colonized the Philippines and was there not legislation that gave them the ability to do so? Maybe they didn’t need the legislation. Don’t get me wrong I’m no state apologist and I don’t believe in the two-party state system as a good model for politics but I can’t just ignore that politics exists. But her worldview is just as valid as mine especially since she has a lived experience but I still don’t think that the New World Order was who colonized the Philippines. She says she just needs to learn the right words, the right language and I agree with the sentiment but not the language ‘the right language’ because rhetoric is important because im a liberal and diffusion of education and using the right words just might decolonize our minds and spur some future action lol???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? im being like 60% facetious



kuruma caramba

buzz buzz anxious

i have my milkshake

i know that

someone cares about

arkansas moon shine dancing

southerners walking into wine stores

the sounds stomachs squelch

and i had a powderkeg to dance in the stomachstream

gnaw its own knots afraid not to-s

bungee cord snap shot

bottlecap snap gravel mudwheel pop pebble

pine ducks junkies junk i see you on grindr

and here comes the puke


i don’t need you to live i just want you to live

i don’t need you to love i just want you to love

i don’t need you to be happy i just want you to be happy


i want every breath to smell like your

armpits socks pubic mangrove

warm shrimp donut hole with al dente rigatoni


camera gloss asks matte black hair

is my body my body the best body it could be should i alter my body should i correct my body should i make it normal

open sores against titanium

witness the protection program

watch as the world burns

only you can prevent forest fires

stop lightning bolts from striking the surface of the earth

the ground beneath our feet our common crust

globalization mantra fav and retweet or do we say like now

do we say we like it now when we like it do you like it

do you like me do you like my sweater do you like more of my sweater

God narcissus complex ritual gunfire swordfight

Dandelion warfare

Bigwig apocalyptic

monumental devastation like the collapse of the global order would allow an arousal of the deep

a stirring of cthulu would quake the earth like quakers trembling in the face of god

in the face of god there is not a blemish in the face of god

there is not a pore god uses proactive because god is jessica simpson

an object of love

or what is beyond words

when words fail, that’s when i want to talk the most

love what of it

death what of it

the lose-their-futures

the forgetmenots

the IOU selling the kids a needle full of hope

the only thing the queers can reproduce is neoliberalism

and don’t ask me about the alternative or you’ll coopt it


limestone soapscum battlescar monuments

had the river hands instead of arms

or legs instead of branches

the water could recycle itself

but i suppose it does already anyway

And all of that is history by now, not that it doesn’t matter but we can pretend so for now so it’s quiet again


2 sister by steven karl


One thing I thought about is the unknowability of death — I have no idea what it is like to die or be dead. It is irreconcilable. I do not know if there is an after-life. It’s very hard to capture how I feel about death with words, directly, so instead I think silence, and non-linguistic forms of communication might come closer to explaining how I feel. So, the question then becomes how do I represent those things within my poetry? I remember Leigh saying something about prepositions and how death can be perhaps understood ‘through’ or ‘around’ or ‘about’ things but never directly, never with a noun or a verb, or maybe not never but it’s harder.


Formal choices — space could indicate silence, or allow readers to fill in connections within the content for themselves. sort of like a Harold Pinter play in which more is revealed in the speechlessness and miscommunication than the dialogue itself


  • “field poetry” — maps out relations on the page through space. deconstructs syntax, read up down across diagonal however you want! square shape of book also gives it a less book-y feel which removes me from my experiences with traditional poetry, novels, etc.


  • mapping thought through language and space, or painting a landscape with words like Gertrude Stein quote I referenced in my other journal


  • Physical language of geography — mountains, buttes (and mistaking the two) rivers, streams


  • Dragging dead sister up the mountain – relationship of space to subjects and emotion both on the page and in the real world. White space creates islands of text — separation, distance between subjects and conditions like life/death.


  • Non-linguistic elements like +++s divide page, &s, space between letters and words, / could be stanza break or mean these words can replace one another




on the

tip of a steeple

feral                                         potentiality

like a                                                   name-shocked

jettisoned vein


strums             strict               tight                 six                   strings

don’t have sex please




to the dead bat under the bed:


long day                      gazes   :                                               awry ,,,

chemical signal           flares   :                                                        ,,,

cognitive                                                                                 reactionary ,,,

allowance                    of                                                         belief         (?)


atypical                       fragments                                                              ,,,

of witless                                                                                 pithy

and                              baroque                                               promises   ,,,


revoke association








a          tangled            net

in the



the sea


a          rhythm            washing

the                               sand



fleeting pupil glint

warmth of a smile like an Instagram filter

geometric prints

how do you do it

how did you come to school the day after the day after your sister died

were you here when the metallic voice

squawked over the intercom announcing that naomi mcclendon

had died and asking for a moment of deafening stifled silence


Does it have to do with (Nietzsche, Critical Race Theory, Hauntology, Marxism, Jazz, Poetry or Kurt Cobain)

Does it have to do with your mother or father or oma or God or the Lord Jesus Christ

I don’t know what it would be like to lose my sister who gives me everything

 my memories of you are sepia


scrambled eggs, burnt hash-browns

and vaguely formed

you standing atop a table

in bob’s diner

at the middle school cast party of

who killed elvis


misty mornings

marching band practice

glinting horns you twirling flags and batons

glittering unitards  and starchy grey

coveralls over that t-shirt you designed


student council camp when we were asked to say our favorite band and

baby me goes neutral milk hotel

and you say they’re cool and then i feel cool

and then you’re passing toilet paper between your neck and another neck and it’s funny

how comfortable i was around you


tired eyes fluorescent lights caffeine tremors

and you in a suit and blouse and high heels debating

solar roads or your oration on

talent versus hard work or the significance of beauty

and i think of you standing on stage at state forensics

receiving an auditorium full of applause



and now i think of all those blessed to look upon you or

hear you sing Kelsey by Metro Station to your friends with your band in your basement

i think about the trans girl you would walk with in the hall while everyone else looked past her

and wonder where she is now, where you are now, where i am now and where i’d be without you and where i’d be with you still here and i never find answers but sometimes i find something like peace




i can remember the last time i saw you in spring

the color of your shorts, smile, presence then

i woke up one day to a text that said you were gone


i remember driving to a gravel parking lot to stare at the lake in silence

i remember your funeral and the picture on the hand-out

your family standing so close together, shiny eyes and

welcoming smiles welcoming tears and


i remember skipping class the next day with my best friend

mourning you, quietly eating mcdonalds in city park and then

our fries blew away in the wind and

we laughed the hardest we had ever laughed

we screamed the loudest we had ever screamed

because we didn’t know what else to do






3 sister by steven karl

you say you think your cock doesn’t work anymore

low blood pressure or a hardened artery.


i’m thinking about my mom and how she misses me

my sister and how she misses me

and how i’m the only one out of us who hasn’t tried to off myself. you feel me?

i’m thinking about my friend who offed himself

and my other friend who climbed over the tenth story balcony thinking she was getting into bed.

i’m thinking about my friends who want to off themselves. i really hope they won’t off themselves.


i’m thinking about when i used to have nightmares in the night

would wake up trying to scream but couldn’t

then unfreezing and sobbing terror

and how my mother would comfort me.

how i would fake it so she would comfort me.


so i’m sobbing and you’re holding me and at first i was scared i was faking it but i’m shaking, reaching for anything then your hand on my head and i’m thinking about how sometimes you don’t want to be near me and then you move over and watch the simpsons on your phone. i’m pulling down my eyelids to reveal pink sockets, i’m thinking about how one day you’re going to go and i don’t think i can follow. i don’t know if i can keep up. i’m thinking about how this isn’t a race because the finish line is  we all die anyway!


finally i remember to say something and feel better for a while.


  • abstraction vs concreteness
    • abstract concept of death versus whoa they’re actually gone – captured in the visceral-ness of some poems like ‘I could throw myself on the tracks’ versus the more contemplative, meditative and experimental field poetry
    • Speechlessness/unintelligibility/incomprehensibility/unknowability — the real vs corporeal/imaginary, if death is the real and not communicable perhaps silence or a destruction of grammar / syntax / traditional forms of language are necessary to eacreate a way to communicate or get at concepts embedded in the real
    • Elegy / epitaphs
    • Sensitivity vs detachment
      • repression as a coping mechanism – what level is healthy? can’t constantly feel all my grief always so maybe its good sometimes! Lol jk I guess I always constantly carry my grief with me I just repress it

Heiner Muller

Wraiths – ghost shortly after death


Music, light, sound


Wind bells



Narrative – clear sense in appendix of chronology, rest of poem segmented into different stages of coping?

Adhere – appendix, clarifies and helps me go back

Deviate – many individiual poems, especially field ones, lack concrete sense of time passing or narrative elements — whole thing is quite dreamlike, a faded memory. Also begins with death instead of life.




Grapefruit juice, coffee, a green lawn

A Toyota Corolla

We drive around LA

Past Redondo, Hermosa, Venice

Guy says I remind him of Troye Sivan over breakfast4

I don’t eat I pay for my food

He’s a fashion designer

A Scorpio

Likes Rihanna

Company designs clothes for the Target little girl’s section

He does whatever the fuck he wants

We make out in his Corolla

I suck his dick in the Corolla and he sticks his hands down my pants and I cum then I’m like

You know this makes me feel uncomfortable?

Can you just drop me off

And I never finished sucking the guy’s dick because I already came and I didn’t really like him enough to make him cum

So he drove a while dropped me off and I walked to a restaurant to meet my grandma and her rich old lady friends

In my cummy acid washed draw string cotton gym shorts

No undies

And I sit there and the mimosas keep coming

And I go to a museum and post a pic of me biting a baby doll head

And get in trouble for biting museum property

My grandma’s friends are divided, supporting me or Sandy the museum manager

None of them really know me, supporting me over Sandy is merely a jab at Sandy

Who tried to cut off my wine access to make sure I didn’t get sloppy at her garden party

When she was the one who drunk drove into another car last month :-/ smh sandy

You’re not fooling anyone

I prefer the lady who smelled like weed over you, im going to talk to her about stanislavski were going to mutually psychoanalyze one another bye





My uncle once told me my great grandfather’s dish of choice was squirrel spaghetti

And that he was the best squirrel shot in all of Southeast Arkansas, he’d hunt them all himself

And my great grandmother would prepare the squirrels, would smash open their heads to eat their brains




When Xavier told me crying Alex died I just looked at him and didn’t say anything. I walked past him. I didn’t console him. I didn’t believe him.




4 the devastation mellissa buzzeo

The material sublime – oils on the page, erotic turning of page, involves reader and makes attention go to the materiality of the books, corporeal imagery creates a sort of rupture for the real? Human connection through language, but also through matter – matter/the body as a language or a form of communication outside of language. Even book sitting on shelf impacts reader – Karen Barad, intra-action performative agential realism


The wind is torn from elsewhere

  • Constant displacement, motion, push and pull, and zero sum and the law of thermodynamics
  • Torn, violence, separation, distance — needed for change and closeness and togetherness?


As we read through cheesecloth

  • Authors intention, intentional fallacy, miscommunication, connotation


The hard swallow of continue


The body as water, as 98% water, water as the origin of life, water as fluidity and change and togetherness and mesh.

Sometimes I get high and do whippets in the bath and sink into the water and it’s like I become the water. All I can hear is my heartbeat. My ribcage floats to the top of the water as I fill my lungs with air, then upon exhale I sink back down to the bottom of the tub. The heat makes my body tingle. My body becomes waves or Pulsewidth.


The lake

Shrum’s grave

I stared at it when my friends died and when things at home got shitty

It looked like TV static and throwing the TV off the dam

like silicon chip glass smash on concrete

And it looked like Elvira Queen of the Night’s sunken home

It looked like drowned towns metal pipes crossed out green REDNECK Aryan Nation

It looked like spinal tap trees break water spiders and a decomposing throne

It looked like a pointillist watercolor painting of a deer in earth tones

It looked right back at me, the cold sun did

And I didn’t look for long but saw your face in the shimmers off the shore

The glint of the ice the crack of the water the smack in the back of the head

It’s easier to think you’re dumb like you were

It’s easier to think you’re no fun

It’s easier to think you can’t go on


My own watery depths


If im water what is my past part of me or was water back then water has always been water water has never left us only been recycled save the small fraction blasted off into space. Most water is saltwater, that is undrinkable by humans but still fit for fish, whales, dolphins, sharks, coral, sea plants, bacteria, etc. for now. ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures and levels and overfishing and trawling and military navy sonar detection and pollution and urbanization and disruption of ocean currents reliant on the thermohaline circulation of nutrients and it’s all going to shit is what I mean. Shitwater ballast invasive species but that’s hypocritical isnt it.






Academic Accolades

Aaron Carter

A Birthday Sequence

Frog Juice

Squid Lemon

Greased Shine

Spark Plug

Drinkable Wallet

Dancing Winter

Snow Goblet

Land Mine

Timid Stranger, Be Not Afraid


Lentil soup

Dream pudding

Falafel makes my tummy hurt but it’s a blessing all the same.


You emptied me

You made me see a person for a person and the person in me or is me. I’m a personable person a people person a person gentle with words and kind with the fairies. I’m a spearmint green. I like to smell of limes. My home is a hut made from blades of green grass. I wove them from the earth toward the heaven into a bungalow for my daughter, Minerva. She is my pride and joy. I hope one day she attends a small college that will educate her in something she is interested in, like Slavic folk literature, or female protagonists within Slavic folk literature. I wouldn’t mind having a feminist for a daughter if she wasn’t going to turn against God in the process. Witchcraft is unacceptable under my roof! Save your pentagrams and Luigi boards, I’ve had enough! Expelled into the woods with the lot of you.








  1. Based on The Devastation, what of healing? How do we heal? What role poetry? Can your write a poetics of healing? What ways might we view this whole reading list/syllabus/class as a poetics of healing? What do you want to heal? In yourself? In the world? What role poetry? Imagine forms/modes/possibilities that have yet to be imagined. Write them.


How do I heal?

Slowing down

Taking a breath

Talking to a friend

Taking a shower

Taking things from the store and not paying for them



Poetry allows me to filter my healing and guide it. it is not a substitution for healing. For a long time I would write down my trauma and then I would say well now I am done with it. now I have gotten the trauma out and it cannot affect me. now I have written down all the problems I have with you and while I have not communicated them with you I still wrote them down which made me feel better. I still expect you to change your behavior or else will have to accommodate them and will get irked and write more and read what I wrote over and over again savoring it and never letting it go and never really moving on. But it’s still nice to get it out and really think out a problem. Its just theres still the solving to do. The formula can be on the page but it has to reflect some real life change too. I can write a poetics of healing if I maintain presence when writing my poetry, I don’t treat it like a factory. If my poetry builds community instead of tearing it down, if my poetry affirms and destructs when necessary. If my poetry is honest. If my poetry is in the moment. If my poetry matters or resonates with me. poetry that changes. Poetry that does not hang on.


What ways do I want to heal?

I want to be able to say hey you hurt me

I just want to be able to say it

to my mother and my sister and my partners and my friends and strangers

I want to heal from all the times I stayed silent

I need to let the words out even if they will form wounds emerging from my skin in which they have nested and bred. I need to let them fill the air with pungency and rot so I can be cleansed. It is a process, a becoming, an enactment and so are these words. But once again the words are not enough for me, they never have been and never could be.

Poems with my friends

Poems about my friends


Your journal asked

Whose clothes am I wearing

Miss Modular

Blue hair and blue eyebrows and blue pants and all legs and uncomfortable when customers say you’re all legs

She knows mike wazowski she always makes an awkward forced smile when I make eye contact with her maybe because I make the same one but I don’t know who made it first and it keeps going and building

Your yard is full of metallic sculptures and bric a brac knick knacks and flowers

Aw we started a work journal actually.

1Everything has a language even if we cannot understand it

It is speaking to us it is proclaiming by being there I am being here

Or am I speaking for others now?








Acknowledging my own damage, wreckage, hull broken on coral

Why am I afraid of my own desires

I want to be healthy and happy and autonomous

I want to do what I want with others in mind yes but me too

I want to have ten minutes in the morning to breathe


Why do I feel alone every time I hang out with people lately


How is this class a poetics of healing


Conrad – queerness is cool, you took my book and destroyed it but not really you created something new with doodles and I’m glad you read it the whole time you were in California I love you so much lately your eyes and stomach and laugh and way you say hello and the holes in the soles of your shoes and the paint on your pants and you turn driftwood into driftwood nicely and I would be upset if you were tortured and murdered

Ko – power power power over 40% of filipino adolescents have attempted suicide and im not sure if the rothschilds can read minds or if the government is going to project jesus into the sky and kill all the Christians when the new age religion comes but im here for you anyway and your reptilian shirts

Orogeny – yeah you fucked me up mom but its not your fault bc u got fucked up by your circumstances even worse than me. I still love myself so you probably loved me enough even if you didn’t show it by holding me. I love u ur very cool and smart

Sister – grief will never leave me but i don’t need it to


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