National Poetry Month Day 2: Jenny Xie







Everything’s slightly off.

Neurasthenic hours.

For months the firmest of acts refuse
to keep still, unspooling from me
at low frequencies.

It’s only when I scour the ground
nose slanted in the dirt
that I spot an open parenthesis.

I pluck it out with my teeth.
Careful not to undo
that knotted eye of beginnings.

Now I proceed through my days with caution.

Not knowing when this aside I live out will close.




A figure making its way to the temple, 3:42 AM:
bone in the wind’s throat.

The tongue cleans the bowl.
The forehead soaks up the wooden floor.

Shave off the metaphor until it’s lean,
until it’s purposeless.

Sediment of the day wiped clean.
Sitting still, pulling at the root of consciousness.

Then comes the needlepoint of language
which makes a thought visible.

Jenny Xie is the author of Eye Level (Graywolf Press), recipient of the Walt Whitman Award and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and the PEN Open Book Award. She has been supported by fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Poets & Writers. More from this author →