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Sarah Charlesworth, “Proof of Telekinesis” (1992-1993), Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame, 54.25x 44.5 inches (image courtesy the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone, NY/LA)

I Just Want Us to Be On

I don’t get the affections people grow for each other. 


Small lies change the brain’s architecture making way for lyric verse,

For people prepared to deny the need for the best we could do.

I become angry, move the anger into obscure deposits

And express its excess as the opposite of generosity.

I break into points and walk.

It makes some sense to forget everything in advance.

Work, work, blue fear, hot reactive materials.

In the beyond-black of smoke, the brain’s ball lightning.

If in a situation of regret, you let your anger become the law’s terrible machine.

If in a situation of conflict, you work out.

When I tell you I’m not angry, you don’t believe me. When you’re angry, you tell me you love me.

But we live in anger like the law. How do you love me if you don’t believe me?

If in a situation of conflict, you let your anger become the law.

If you regret, you work.

I’m always sorry for what I fail to consider. But the audience has a way with words.

No more returning to the text to untuck living from casuistic dreams.

On the first night, I spoke up, then sound for a whole year.

Perceptual weaponry beyond the off-white horizon.

You try hard to increase your emotional storage.

How do people tell each other apart?

A coat of boiled wool, red and in motion.

A car accident. Then, they sew my head to your shoulders.

Every day now beside ourselves.

*   *   *

Benjamin Krusling was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his work has appeared in No, Dear Magazine, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Tagvverk. You can find him on Twitter @blk_blk_blk_blk

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at

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Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of the poetry collections Phrasis (Fence, 2017), winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013). The recipient...