Adriana Varejão in Interiors at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, 2017 (photo by Elisa Wouk Almino/Hyperallergic)


They build the wall because they need privacy
It is a curtain wall with a dead load and a wind load and a seismic load and a blast load
It is a wall to help us find peace in a violent world
It is a wall of debt
It is a wall of accumulation
It is a private wall built with public funds
It is a sleeper wall with suspended slabs and floor joists
Poor kids are buried in the wall
When they trade bodies for petroleum they slide them through the wall
When they trade bodies for vaccines they slip them over the wall
When they trade bodies for state secrets they dig them under the wall
I’ve been treated very unfairly by this wall
My mouth has gone missing near this wall
My teeth have gone missing near this wall
My body has disappeared into a brick in the wall they built around the wall

I meet a slaughterer at the wall
He is kind to me
He brings me water when I am thirsty
He brings me food when I am hungry
He brings me something to kill when I am lonely
He brings me something to love when I am lonely
He brings me something empty when I need a moment of blank

There is an endless hole in the wall
I spit the wall out of my body
I hide in the wall
I become the wall
There is a murmuring ghost in the wall
The ghost of a refugee they shot against the wall
There is a foreign agent in the wall
There is an underdeveloped man in the wall
There is an underdeveloped culture in the wall
There are cheap people who wear cheap shoes and cheap shirts made in cheap
factories protected by a very exquisite wall
There is a device in the wall
A sensor to detect movement along the wall or near the wall
There is news that comes out of the device in the wall
Bleep bleep bleep bleep       bleep bleepbleepbleepbleepbleepbleepbleepbleep
There are cannibals and pacifists in the wall
Their balls are to the wall
There is a fly on the wall
We bang our heads against the wall
There is a brick structure that divides one property from another
It is a garden wall
It is a fire wall
It is a consumption wall
It absorbs the excess bodies from the surrounding area while also enclosing them
It is a wall that wears many hats
It is a climbing wall with gelatinous membrane along its outer cavity
They piss money up the wall
They nail us like jelly to the wall and we dream of a wall of philanthropists with knives for
The handwriting is on the wall
Do not climb this electrified wall 
We trade cards with bureaucrat-slaughterers on the wall
They drive us up the wall
We break the fourth wall
We bounce off the wall
It is the strongest wall in the emptiest part of the valley

*   *   *

Daniel Borzutzky’s latest poetry collection is Lake Michigan (Pitt Poetry Series, 2018). He is the author of The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press), recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. His other books include Memories of my Overdevelopment (Kenning Editions, 2015); In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (Nightboat, 2015), and The Book of Interfering Bodies (Nightboat, 2011). His translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia  (Co-im-press) won the American Literary Translator’s Association 2017 National Translation Award. He has translated poetry collections by Chilean poets Raúl Zurita and Jaime Luis Huenún. He teaches in the English Department and Latin American and Latino Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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

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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...