Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected two poems by Douglas Kearney for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Glenn Ligon, “Untitled (Four Etchings)” (1992) (detail), soft-ground etching, aquatint, spit-bite aquatint, and sugarlift on Fabriano Murillo Black and Rives BFK paper ( © Glenn Ligon; Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London)

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When your body isn’t your body you a we’s sick and them’s ain’t my peoples, you’s my peoples.

I rent a car and crash it. I rent a red car and crash it at a green wall. I come out like a mess of dark seeds of things. We’s hurt. I pay the deductible. Fine for wrecking their me of theirs.

I broke and entered that body of mine is theirs and theirs is. Alarms everywhere. We’s scared. They said: It’s all yours, officer. What a relief. The police couldn’t excessive me because I wasn’t mine in the first place!

We’s feeling low. Let’s string my body of theirs and watch it shimmy. Click. I post my self of theirs and say wish I was here. I’m laughing!—it sounds like them. Cakewalking: My hand up their hand up my hand up their hand. My lips of theirs don’t move when I talk!

For this next trick. I ain’t done nothing they haven’t seen. My eyes are their assholes. Either my head or what I see is their “head.” Them’s ain’t my feelings, you’s my feelings.

The airbag gillespies. we’s bleeding, underlined in my journ—who taught you to—?!

When the chalk licks me up, this bodying’s a plantation of want. We’s hungry. Them’s ain’t my hashtag, you’s my hashtag. I’m working side-by-side with the hounds. Teeth on ass in teeth on ass in teeth. Whose lips are moving?

When my body ain’t my body I need directions to a hole in the ground. That’s not our bodies, that’s your bodies. Thank y’all, hunny. Give-es us…us(?). Free-ishly, I have escaped to where I was the whole time.

I’m. I’m. I’m. I’m. I’m. I’m.


You want no part of what you were apart from but are now a part of but were always a part for, thus apart from what you were for. If this is you is you this: staying put? And are you in pieces where that is? You stay staying put to be a part of it, and it is a part of the big It, but apart from the part you play in it and the piece of a part you play in It, is it a place to stay put in?

And if you put you in, who’s a party to you staying put in? Back then they were put in to stay being put upon by the other they, to stay staying a part of the other they’s place to stay put, they were “pieces,” “parts.” Put upon to put out for the soon-to-be big It. And if they wanted no part of it, or if they wanted to take a part of It, they were Wanted, and pieced apart into parts and pieces to be pieced back in to the It they departed.

Now, if we play the them then, is that a put on? Not that we aren’t put upon, but the part they played, is that our now? What stay a part of wanting to be apart from it, wanting no part of it or It, or a part of an alternate It where you wouldn’t stay just parts and pieces but put together together; not an it in the it, the It, or the alternate It? To be apart, one runs from.

Then, the they ran for freedomification. Now you run from It less for freedomifying than for spite, an “f. you.” The spite is from despising It and despise is from looking at. The f.u.gitive a critic—it decides to run from what it espies to despise. When you despise it and It despite what you might want from being a party to it and It, you must run or if you stay staying put, you must stay putting up with being the them and the other them; you stay playing yourself for what you want even though you think you playing some them. Which you can do. You can do it. Just stay put.

F.U.gitivity is to not want what some they are wont to want. The F.U.gitive runs from that wont into the unwanted, and will maybe be despised as wanting by the Big It and many little its. The “f. you” displays the parts of the It the theys are a party to, a part of, and apart from. Such display makes staying playing your part wanting, maybe wan, and who wants to feel like the it or It’s shit? The F.U.gitive’s critical run-from tells the them that, and some despise the running, some the looking, some the it or It, but most stay staying put. Putting out and putting in, hoping not to be put upon or put out.

But when more some come to want what the F.U.gitive’s wonts have freed, this sum of new somes gonna run. And as more run, the span from the Big It to the Alternative It seems less apart. The unwanted F.U.gitive becomes Wanted. And once Wanted the Big It espies and may play that it espouses.

Look, look: even bigger Big Houses.

Thus run.

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Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney‘s third poetry collection, Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014) examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood, and was a finalist for the California Book Award in Poetry. Cultural critic Greg Tate remarked that Kearney’s second book, National Poetry Series selection, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), “flows from a consideration of urban speech, negro spontaneity and book learning.” A collection of opera libretti — including one written in a counterfeit African diasporic language, will be published by Subito Press in 2015. Noemi Press will publish his collection of writing on poetics and performativity — Mess And Mess And — in late 2015. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry, nocturnes, Pleiades, Iowa Review, Boston Review, and Callaloo. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Joe Pan for consideration at poetry@hyperallergic.com.

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year” by Coldfront...