Issue 22: Noelle Kocot

The Work

Inside a straight line,

There is solace.

In water,

There is a small gift.

The heart's souvenirs

Pile up under the tongue.

It is easy now

To do the work,

Always becoming

A scent on the path.


Is there a crisis?  So many faults.  What's the

Big fucking deal?  Body glaring over the Seine,

I think that it's simply what could be done.  The

Phenomenology of another day, how well did

You know my hands?  Lushly dark, filled with

Gestures, the greed of giving myself to you has

Got me going back to my mystical beginnings.

I don't remember who bought the drinks, but

Somewhere, a little neighborhood cafe teems

With iridescent atmosphere.  The birth pangs of

This molting, the arrival to this rocking chair,

When thought goes to sleep, poetry is the only

Currency you have.  Those stars fastened to the

Gate are going out.  Take this, it's meant to be a gift.


Grind of the dumped, what I wanted from that

City!  Being in the presence of pure love, then

Coming back, is disappointing.  Repetitive, broken,

How to tell it all, how to relate back to the highways

Folding up, radiant.  So now I know, there is an

Afterlife.  I've known for a month, but could only

Tell a very few.  Dirty, shattered, this world has

Seemed a void to me, a lick between skin and spirit.

Listen, I am human, but everything is upside down,

I don't know how to tell it anymore.  The firmament

Leaks out gasoline, how strangely blurred everything

Is!  There is a pure fog covering us now, and I really

Don't know how to go back to the other age fluttering

Behind us.  Trying to understand, trying to relate,

I fail miserably in the dissembling moment.  Music

Plays all night, and I go on pretending I don't hear it. 

The Joy of Living

Unreachable shine of language, pouring--

You can almost drink it!  Today I came back

To the dreaming sleeves that drape my mind

With neon.  Scrim and claw of enamel words,

Joe fixing the computer, I'm standing here,

Shaking with joy, and my fragile armor is

Turning into flame.  Grass thickened by night,

Thrill of this flesh this adrenaline, the bones

In me are only vanity, objects marked with

Cloth.  Give me something durable, the pitted

Screens straining the last winter through

Them, and I will give you heaven ringed round

With shame or pride, and sit at the foot of

Things, that rug that holds my shadow for forever. 

Letter to the Reverend Jane Brady

Sickle-cell November sky, the way the bones

Chip at the mention of evening.  What I once

Was crumbles at midnight.  Hiding beneath these

Blankets, rosary said, cats fed, I try but I can't

Find sleep.  No further from the cross was I,

And it was like a lovely bird offered me something.

The shoulder of the wind nudges by, and I concede

The answer.  The corn is not high, the thistles

Not light anymore, I have stopped counting the

Days.  Papery things fall from my hands, and I

Stand by the Hanover Street Salon, a four-leaf

Clover in my two fingers.  I am proof of the

Survival of trees, bending in the wind, but never

Breaking.  Salvation, revolution—it all gets

To me so personally, like poetry, like energy,

Like news that never was, and like truth stripped

Of all its accouterments, and vague thoughts of home

Noelle Kocot is author of eight full-length collections of poetry, most recently of God’s Green Earth (forthcoming with Wave Books, 2020). She is also the author of two chapbooks, a discography and a book of translations of the poet Tristan Corbière. She teaches at The New School, and is poet laureate of Pemberton Borough, New Jersey.

Copyright © 2019 by Noelle Kocot, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.