Joanie Mackowski, “First”

orange line


How begin disrubbled
fable, how beckon the first. Amid

what, all fall down. Amiddling. How begin
midshards, imparticulate, grace

for the mill. How amid this
dross of corporate inchoate to cohere

a motion distinct from the general
motion to proceed with the order;

how interred in medias
erases initial condition poof. As sea

to shining drowns all gnash-
tooth outbound wail. And absent

sense, which is relative. Absent self,
which relative suffers. Absent other,

absent vanishing point, absent shadow, tick
absent took, all but absent equi-

liberation: earth, ocean, void, face mingled
l-m-n obedient to the herd’s flux

and sway—amid this unbounded
mingle culmination, somehow

alchemized I, I am, I do, I watch, I zing
the plush, I thrill each synaptic

chasm with storms of hormones,
I intuit astral protoplasm.

Yes. At long last first I was I.
The singular. The lost consequent.

The refractory iteration of you.


Joanie Mackowski’s books of poems are View from a Temporary Window and The Zoo. Recent work has appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, and Guernica. She teaches at Cornell University.


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