Literature : Word Choice

Radiant and distant, suffused with a saturnine sense of awe, Kendal Frey’s poems activate subtle gravities in the blink of an eye. We don’t approach—we’re taken.

Izel Vargas, Cicatriz, 2009, mixed media on banner, 60 × 96 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

The Greatest Brightness Acts Near the Greatest Darkness

We can be free

in degrees. The dream,

for example, tries

to do its part:

a stack of cards

from other lovers

and a red shawl.

You don’t belong

to me. Now I’m awake

and things down the street

are loud and mine.

No birds. Trucks.

A dull wind moves us

between seasons.

There is no reason.

There are people praying

on mountains

so we don’t have to.

We Required an Infinitely Narrow Space

Three kinds of heirloom tomatoes

on the table, one splitting.

I love you because we suffer

the same amount.

The heat is dizzying. I can’t

leave the house because I keep

cleaning up mouse shit.

It hurts me when I think

about people getting what

they want. That couple

with the snaggle teeth.

The future should be

smaller than that.

The Demand for Completeness Frees Us from Restraint

When we’re like

I’m experimenting w/ etc.

doesn’t it just mean

we’re widening our range

of excuses? I did things

because I lived alone

and could. I wouldn’t choose

them now but that’s just

because of saturation.

Now I’m past 30 and I still

haven’t read Moby-Dick

but there’s a whale in me.

I hate corn chips. My new goal

is to lose my personality.

Emily Kendal Frey is the author of The Grief Performance, published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center, as well as several chapbooks and chapbook collaborations. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Izel Vargas was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He currently lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky.