Katharine Coles



I want to stay up here
As long as I can, surveying

Hills and farmland, tall
buildings, avenues leading

Where I like, wondering
What dreams about sex

Are about. I want
This body to buoy me

Forever, full of bubbles and air,
Though, frankly, I've never

Landed this gizmo before,
And I don't know how.




Once I learned it's wrong to be moved
By one's own words, I stopped. Of course,
We all should leave off weeping and consider
The past dispassionately, in order

That we might make a coherent
Picture, or at least keep some corner of it
Intact. I remember my brother's boyhood
Cruelties, for example, he only mine.

We use them to fuel present grievance,
Which is nonsense, but both of us recall groves
Of inexplicable trees, so maybe they or the fires

We remember taking them occurred. Shed
Tears for their passing if you want. Meantime, what     
About the future, hmm? What about it?




I am, then I am. Can appear
And can ghost. Won't occur
Naturally. Could be open
And shut, be mistaken or have

A high dynamic range. Sensitive
Or not, I may take on
Many positions at once,
My shadow crushed, negative

Shining through, face blurred
Into. How many expressions
Should I keep? How many shots
Can I give you and not

Have to shoot you? I wasn't
Always exposed, or even present.



After many years of happily writing long meditative poems about science, art, and history, I have more recently found myself producing short, even abrupt pieces that refuse to locate or meditate on themselves. In the past two years especially, since spring of 2016, one of the driving impulses behind these poems has been an increasing annoyance linked to the evolving present, by which I mean to politics in general and gender politics in particular, neither of which used to interfere much with my poems. The other has been an increasing sense of joy that feels biological and that makes itself felt beyond and in spite of the aforementioned annoyance. The job of the poems seems to have become not to explain the simultaneous presence of these two emotions, but to accommodate them, which I think they do in part by examining the underlying, often invisible assumptions by which we regulate our lives, and by which we are therefore regulated, happily or not.