Against Against

Jamaal May | Poetry

They said love should never appear
in a poem and I wondered
what to do if I love

the cicatrix of a leaf the way I love
the pattern of nerves fanning out
on an anatomy poster

or the divergent and converging
futures trailing across
our palms.

When they said to remove the modifiers
I wasn’t sure what one should say
if the morgues of their cities

truly are ravenous and the darkness
has always been hunger-full.
And speaking of darkness—

And speaking of weariness and failure
and iniquity and silence and enmity—
why not abstract?

Why not detachment from the weight
of driftwood, mercurial fish,
seaweed, mermaid,

sea serpent—whatever objects the nets
are hauled in heavy with
this week

of empty shoreline—this week
of waking up still