Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River; The Ekphrastic Review, The Inflectionist, Taplit Mag, Muse A/Journal, and more

Devon Balwit

We Call It That

I have never seen anything that wasn't announcing the next thing, the cycle of hungry and not hungry, the same word repeated until it becomes a new sound. I knew a man who went around the world renaming everything. The noun prune became fingertip, the verb feed became immerse. There will never be another pyramid, but there are caves where dead buffalo still walk, where small men in blown ochre hold spears. Outside, the moon glints like a coin left on the eyes of an emperor. And if that's not enough, we can call it bright blessing, gazelles roaming freely over the country of our bodies, grazing us to new growth, a stripping and a burgeoning beyond tongues.

This poem emerged from a writing session with a fellow poet, Jeff Whitney. We each began with a quotation from Joseph Mitchell, a NY essayist from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Then we passed poems back and forth at a furious pace to use for inspiration or to dismantle at will. (I think each of us ended up with 4 or 5 infant poems from three hours of non-stop writing, which we then took home to labor over.) I tend to work alone and to retreat to a deep, slow place in the back of my skull when I compose. In contrast, Jeff is a stream of consciousness writer. He tries to stay ahead of thought, and his poems burst with imagery. I lean towards narrative. I want my works to tell a tale. His pieces tend to solid block stanzas, while mine separate into pairs or triads with plenty of breathing room. This poem was my taming of his wild horse, my bending the thundering to my will and insisting that it mean something. It is a sweaty end-result poem.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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