The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

All Issues
NOV 2022 Issue


After New York Address by Linda Gregg

My engineering had failed.
I was the same character I had always been.
So I started answering the questions
regardless of consequence:

Yes, I love love.
Yes, I am a salesman of it.
There is an unstoppable force and an immovable object.
We decide upon their physics and cry on the couch.
Something is built, in negligence of our day-to-day.
Because I am obsessed with your cheeks.
I know you do not adore the science.
So when you say show me an unwild guess,
I think the only thing it could be is love.
But look.
You have to look at the world hard,
find three moves it made
decide if you love what they did.


You are saying all of this with a paper umbrella
in your hair. You stuck it in when the margaritas came.
I was citing our order of operations, a fear that we are
so far gone from how things ought to go, and you counter
by invoking queer temporality. You confirm what we know,
like life during wartime. I distinctly remember my rhetorical
Who else do I write poems about? It’s opening day, the Yankees
are winning, the men out on St. Marks are cheering. You raise
your fish taco to your mouth. Please tell me I am not some guy,
please be the first mover, please burst our bubbles. I am bursting them
before us now. I live and die by you, our moments of magic and nonmagic,
your cum and period blood underneath my fingernails. I commit us
to film, but the gorgeous warm light could have been a trick, a reflection
cast from my gold sheets. I try to give myself up to our unspoken.
For all that you have an unmoving face, the rest of you moves toward me.

*Originally appeared online in The Quarterless Review


Fat ugly pigeons near the West 4th St
movie theater love extending their
whole heads. They latch onto crust
with their beaks and flail it about
whirling a full 360 in their faggotry.
I watch and I miss you, inhaling the
pizza of others.

Similarly migratory, the ice cream trucks
of Bushwick play their song nonstop
for at least three months in heat. The
only way out of it is through. Mr. Softee
fated to his inceldom, is damned and unkissed.

Your fan is pulling bad spirits into your room,
convincing you to delete and remake.
Which you start to, but I took you on, stoned,
pointing up at the ceiling, telling the boys
that the chandelier is so clear a girl,
sad, with her hair hanging down limp.

You play the summer like truth or dare.
I ask, “Are you crying because it’s a dead dog
in the street or your dead dog in the street?” Your dog.
I slap you across the face. I get better each time.

I forgot to flip the calendar. June hung
for all of July. Then, when a mousedoor appears,
at the foot of a brick wall, unwilled? Love.
It has a physics learned only after it unfurls.

The heirloom tomato I handed you at peak
was my heart, Yours now on the bus home,
its red against city blues and cautionary yellows.

I am ingesting the rainbow, downing Lucky
Charms on a night astrologically best for
manifesting, hoping for compounding effect.

The dryer sheet box copy demands, “Surround
yourself with softness!” But remember the desert?
Remember Top of The World? Now I can’t
look at the cacti.

So I run in a human washing machine to techno
in Mexico City in lieu of a classic rock boyhood,
for all I say I want an armchair, a fireplace,
a big mug. My footing was fucked. Someone
had to teach me the twostep.

I am riding in a van called Tus Sueños. Your dreams.
Dreams you say you are having in snowpiles and
with all your bones gone. Air conditioning runs
at constant during the city heatwave. Idiot! All chill is false.


My memory is purple: blue of the Maddog mixed
with vodka, mixed with red light of the Space Odyssey
sex motel room. When the jacuzzi got too steamy, we sat
on the tiles, pointing at the porn onscreen, listening
to music that moves from the bottom up. You refuse
the top down on principle.

In the morning, I am ringmastering my mad dash to McDonald’s
before the breakfast hours end. I want our teeth to sink into
sweet squishy egg blanketed in processed American. Back
in the city, the need for greens is mutually felt, so you
do the ordering: stewed vegetables, two salads, tzatziki.

I slump down low, reach out to touch the tips of your fingers,
watch you flare up at others and dim comfortably back at me.
You cherish the unspoken. I want to name it so desperately.

*Originally appeared online in Pigeon Pages


Late one night, you asked me to close the tent, so I shut my bedroom door to zip us in. Was I
scared of the bears? Sure I was, but it was nice for us to be there, horizontal in the night’s
silence. I confessed: this was my first time camping. You said you went every year, ever since you
were little. I set the cricket sound alarm for the morning, as if the bit would hold, and I held you
tighter than I had prior. The apartment heat was off.

When the pretend finally broke, and it was just us, cold in Brooklyn, you said you had never been either. No interest. I should have known. You are such a city girl.

Life! With its obvious, impossible tradeoffs.

* Originally appeared in print in Peace On Earth Review


I tried to give myself up to the unspoken
But love overflowed
In selfish ways


That is my fate
Said to be taken mournfully


On a sexless
Banterless night
I have only your arms
Caloried kisses
Your smallest snores
Your hacking
The sky is blank
We love it


Ari Lisner

Ari Lisner is a poet, journalist, and researcher whose writing captures queer intimacy against the backdrop of New York City. Their work has been featured in The Quarterless Review, Peach, Triangle House, Wonder, GQ, Allure, and others. ONE SCHTICK PONY, their first chapbook, is forthcoming with Bullshit Lit in 2023. Ari is also the co-founder of the poetry press Touch Me New World and the host of the reading series IT'S A SIGN at KGB Bar. Find Ari on Instagram at @arisbarmitzvah.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

All Issues