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Charm in Its Southern Variety / Have You Ever Felt So Detached From Your Own Upbringing You Could Sail Away, A Non-Entity Slackening Like A Small Creekwave

this poem is indebted to Morgan Parker’s “ALL THEY WANT


spring & sunflare feral / each mast penetrates a little / sky

all they see is my fun my summer my yes

inventing games using cups and pillowcases / asking if i’d like to join in

i would not

ocean a slate always being rewritten & i am the mud underneath this marshy haven / greasy sticky bottom of cocktails by the pool

the air is salt but also snowmelt & i’m nothing i’ve not been asked to be

i’m asking about the degree / to which skin can punish

i mean i’m self-isolating in a group of white friends like is this 2003 or—

if it’s always just me : mud : mirrored : __ / __revolutionary, then, to own my narcissism

to bellygaze alone on the shorewall / where no element warms me / spiderwebs breaching

white space between marshgrass

language is excess ________ / ___________ a boat sails by

i was raised here / made here / my life is a lie


RAENA SHIRALI is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), which won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a 2019 PEN America Writer’s Emergency Fund Grant, a 2018 VIDA scholarship, a 2017 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University, and a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. Shirali’s poems & reviews have appeared widely in American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, The Nation, The Rumpus, & elsewhere. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University, and serves as a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine.


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