The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2019

All Issues
MAY 2019 Issue



So I do kinda feel like yes it might have been
the beginning of the end of something really big
that might have been the very item
I was so worried about being pinned down by this
a statement read into as clarifying or as muddying
the waters of alfalfa and poppy fields flooded over
in the spring when I awoke it was that dream holding me still
in the cellar where the action was where I sat and wondered
what about the speakeasy the automat and the strand I wondered too
can you tell what am I doing here this close is it yours
for the taking or for the giving that is of course the question
I ask in the fall have we hit rock bottom
yet I am not exhausted, while there is still work
I have a mind to do that which will make me whole
Again and again but then again maybe I don’t after all


How I love it let me tell you since you ask
As the dictyostelium we’ve collected under our collegial microscope
As a completely unmetaphorical voice of visceral childhood recollection
So our circle’s subsequent celebrant shall pronounce for the common edification
I wished for my very favorite flavor and however did you know
As the natural unpolished speech in the world
Any profession that demonstrates my strength of conviction
As a metaphor for how to write about memory
But remember it is all a simulation you can never know for certain
As like the travel magazine’s chirpily objective description
As I and you are he and me, so we all now come together
As mere form of poetic description, full of rhythm and soundplay
We all remain oxen free just so long as you can say anything we like
All we ask is give us a grey mist on the sea’s face that and merry yarn enough


Gone the empties, busted gourds of dusk, before us
Glinting on the sward in constellations nestle contoured forms, now as we
Glimpse hints of vestal dust or an assembled glory of tessels in the dawn.


To be shorn well-locked and true
In the sheltering manifold of the unparted
Waves of what knot after knot is forever
Snarling out only the one false combination
To no other thing under the unrisen and sightless sun

To return to turn to look back in instinctive recognition
On and on to safe arbors and on the river
Running in tacit plastic peace a space
Rippling in place and on and through
That locus it is one still enfolded in jeopardy
Of murderous distended suspense of animation
Of the mechanical replaying of a simple dream
In which one keeps retracing steps to locate
A trace of one’s native neatly pale-limned figure
Stranded to the skull in sea-grass wafting
Stranded bones swaying in hypnotic concurrence
To the long practiced siren-call of the undistressed
Before wind on the water the turn of the sundial
Loosing the concealed antique tumblers
Granting prophecy or depravity
Tremulousness or temerity
You either will – or not


John Williams Narins

John William Narins holds that author biographies should be deceptive. He is a translator of the misunderstood and a distorter of several world poetic traditions. His poetry has been called an analytic verse—if so, it is an “analytic” accommodating spontaneity, suggestion, enigma. John is a poet, scholar, musician, artist, fencer, instigator, player, smoker, wanderer, candlestick maker, marksman, thinker, practical joker, sleepwalker, peacemaker, and a hopeless model for emulation.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2019

All Issues