Ode In This Condition ||| Boston Review

Praise for this wending, this bearing beginning.
The least stuck is groaning,
the most has given in.
Words a rotted barn, full of must
and straw and animals sleeping.
I want to dream with you the mountainsides,
the beaches, the necking in guestbeds,
the words the wiring of our cry.
I make a soul in alleys of spent candles,
mixtures of many kinds of rinds,
I turn a minor key, furnish a tour
of the basements we sloshed through.
The icicles outside, like wands of ice—
use the wand, the lung, the twitter,
Christ. I sigh near the clock,
sign “um” and go underground,
fuming forever in kelpy mauve water.
But why is rage so sweet?
Friar or friend or sister, why often,
bleeding a little, stern-faced and stirring,
generally yearning, am I still so well-dressed
for belief? Ankle-deep in a stream
as the coasts flicker under
leave August behind.
One day we’ll meet to
compare dirty watches,
and look where we’re standing.

Jesse Nathan’s poems appear in Boston Review, The American Poetry Review, The Nation, and elsewhere. He lives in San Francisco, grew up in Rural Kansas, and was born in Berkeley. Nathan is finishing a PhD at Stanford, writing a dissertation on the nature of influence between poets. With Ilya Kaminsky, he is the editor of In the Shape of a Human Body I Am Visiting the Earth.

Ode in This Condition” was published in Boston Review on November 1, 2017.

Look for new work from Jesse Nathan in TLR: Chemistry, the all-poetry issue, available now.