Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Love Is a Voice I Cannot Spell

in Politics/U.S. by

a small number of
a cluster-bomb
so beautiful
my fire
my lower left hip
a remote base
erect metal barriers
the Sonoran Desert
is a trace amount of lead
an infected wound
banned in all countries
in custody of dehydration
you know it in your heart
I set my soul on fire
near my jaw
there are makeshift shelters
steel columns
& harmful bacteria
a mother’s love
in spite of itself
yet I cannot hear
I will die from kidney failure
emptied of meaning
we are sirens
bodies unrecognizable
24 hours after death
pulled over in a lawn-care trailer
A bulwark
which cannot be named
which contains trace amounts
in the backseat I hold
these stones
its war traced
part of me indefinite
and remote
sepein love
or, to “make rotten”
can be a beautiful sight
the wall of an open-air prison
where we had our first kiss
given water and access
to bathrooms
a part of me
my toes they shake
& there’s activity
in a mother’s hands
spread across
a constellation
of concertina wire
my heart is a beating
small ground-nesting bird
we don’t have weapons
only vulgar projectiles
which we open with our eyes
deployed to Arizona
a cat sleeps
military grade
ground troops
at Christmastime
a bulwark
no war in this trace/everlasting/concertina wire
even trees die here
the poem a precision strike
upon nine million acres
love under bureaucratic policy
I do not have one
on the line”
a mother’s love
“I’m feeling all crazy
a riverbed
an ache
damaged by its own tissue
“We just wanted to cross”
I will die here
though some remain
with sepsis and shock
additional ammunition
for policy-makers
CBP circled-overhead
a kiss
veered out of control
the body’s response
bears this war’s trace
fingers stiff and cold
smokestacks billow-up
through the New Year
heels up
caught up at San Ysidro
an ache in the left neck
a ground-nesting bird
her temperature climbing
brain swelling
“All that we love
officials said
nearly 3,000 children
in diapers
hold onto me
you and I together
in the shadow of
beautiful barbed-wire
come on baby
you must have ID
this morning
w/ strollers in their arms
thousands under Federal investigation
come on baby
my rockets fired
like seizures
and concertina wire
in Syria, Ferguson, and Antelope Wells
some dead and some living
stripping away protections
housing troops
won’t you hold onto me?
say my name
I feel alive
in a remote area of the desert
barbed-wire used properly
clutching diapers and gasoline
even the trees are dying
even the trees
headed north
my rectum
shuts down ports
my shaky hands
suspend parole
our only love
lost in California and Texas
an obstacle to oil and gas
in Tornillo
24 hours after death
5,000 crammed into a sports center
our love will never die
my left thumb
my heels
the larynx
responsible for the death of
a riverbed
of lachrymator
my toes shake
& unrecognizable
oh darling!
hold onto me
for I have re-enlisted
clutching diapers
I’ve spent weeks deployed
living words that don’t mean a thing
a kiss
in custody
eyes sunk heavy in my head
hold onto me,
my missile guidance system
my makeshift name
in the shadow of a smokestack
I spoke to Border Patrol
on the Detroit River
“What do you think of
family separations,
“I have no opinion
of that, mister”
I said of him “You must
have an opinion,
“I do what I am told
— and now, we are allowed
finally, to do our job”
there are people I remember
calluses which have built up
with missile-like precision
It is 2018
when I’m holding onto you tight
you’ll always be a part of me
in New Mexico
Arizona, California,
and Texas,
Michigan and Canada
traveling illegally—

—for Jakelin Caal Maquin


Adam Malinowski is a poet currently completing a Master’s in Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University. He teaches First-Year Writing to college freshman and co-facilitates the bi-weekly Advanced Poetry Workshop at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He lives in Detroit.

Photograph by Martino Pietropoli.

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