The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

All Issues
APRIL 2022 Issue


At the Green Lake

The day held promise,
I vowed not to betray it.
But to hold it softly in my hand,

At what hour does it start to
unravel, or collapse into itself,

I vaguely acknowledge the trick:
Co-signing my own exploitation,
              all of ours.

You sign mine too.

Neither will nor reason rescue us.

The amniotic sac bursts open,
confounding the should with the is.


Oh woah Candy, the blue blue times are here
barreling down my chest like the intruder in
the river flood. My sweet, you must sustain!

I go on even when I can’t walk a stone path
farther, I have learned you are the sum of
what you sweat toward daily so I am nothing

today, or an aspirant of tomorrow from this
half-tempo void, body made more bewitching
when the sunlight glints, great chariots usher

away as I flounder my entrance, I drop the pen
I forget to pray, I rise off the sofa without my
shadow, the problem of the city is my problem

and I can’t minimize the historical affliction on
my dreams. I want to be a poet who lives in the
thick of the day’s political method, not wrapped

away in a wool sheath impenetrable from the
fray, I want my psyche in it, battered with it
even intractable shit like this wheezing toxin

we’re in till each day carries over the promise of
lighter (why does this weight carry over?) air, I
who count myself among the lucky, a view of the

sky to measure in quantity my francs of fortune
my pesos of providence, I who count my lire! I
vow to the unknowable all-knowing quiet taut

like the concentration of a dove, I will not pilfer it
as is my right, I carry forward with only occasional
lament the least beleaguered suggestion box,

though to labor is to be flight attendant, pilot, and
passenger in one, I have too many (carrier pigeon)
jobs, yet barely enough, the armature that collides

with my struggling boats is top-of-line, has no
known enemy once it permeates my reflection in
the mirror. I watch a televised image of the Pope

holding the hand of a skinny baby an image that
struggles for power in the circuitry of a machine, I
strain my chin and neck to see it from the subway

platform, the entire image, or should I say the entire
screen, not only the boats or the pope or the baby
but the whole pixelated endeavor at the frontier of a

fragile but sudden collective dysphoria, where I
interpolate the Buddha that your worst enemy can’t
harm you as much as your own thoughts images.

Facsimile of a Firearm

In a sprightly confined chambre de bonne my thoughts
glide in technicolor or arabesque, whorling alongside

unnamed radio voices, sweet and poisonous and
without odor like diethylene glycol or tasteless like arsenic

I foresee the broken ceramic serving dish, heavy
on the dive, a half-second before it transpires.

Facsimile of a firearm on that evening’s simulcast:
I am 59, widower since August, just before the ducks

made landfall in the family pool; a commercial for a
nearby children’s water park, themed cowboy hat

30 miles from Austin, or Paterson, nicknamed Fort Awesome;
in latter years my neural lines skew dark, no conclusive

medical investigation of what Proust called "phénomènes
invisibles analogues,” the television’s text banner shimmers

on the words homicide registry and severe miscarriage of just
as a headless medical examiner’s fingers softly circle the gun’s

buttstock and a dirty bullet’s cannelure, and my pupils dilate
in black rectangles, a truly entropic propagation going on.

* a truly entropic propagation going on was uttered by artist Marina Rosenfeld during an art crit.


Maryam Monalisa Gharavi

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is an artist, poet, and theorist. Book publications include a translation of Waly Salomão’s Algaravias: Echo Chamber (Ugly Duckling Presse), nominated for a PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; the poetry volume The Distancing Effect (BlazeVOX); and Bio (Inventory Press), the first book composed on Twitter without the use of tweets. Artist books include Apparent Horizon 2 (Bonington Gallery); Alphabet of an Unknown City (Belladonna*), Secret Catalan Poem (The Elephants), Mohammad Wikipedia Book (Recess), and the co-authored (with Mirene Arsanios) Dictionary of Night (Ashkal Alwan). A 2021 Trélex Paris residency supported the writing of these poems in the forthcoming My Virtuous Bodies.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

All Issues