Pick-a-Poem: Richard Siken


Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of our “Pick-a-Poem” post. Every Wednesday, we feature a new poem here on the blog. Hopefully, through these posts, you’ll find some new and interesting poetry to read. Each of these poems comes from Poetry Daily, which is a great website that posts a new poem every single day. Be sure to check them out! This week we feature Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One by Richard Siken. The format of this poem is unique and is quite like a song, as the title suggests.

According to his bio page, Richard Siken is the author of Crush, a poetry collection that won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize and a Lambda Literary Award. He has received a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission in the Arts grants, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the co-founder and editor at Spork Press.

Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One by Richard Siken

l am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves
tremble but I am invisible, bloom without flower, knot
without rope, song without throat in wingless flight, dark
boat in the dark night, pure velocity. As the hammer is
a hammer when it hits the nail, and the nail is a nail when
it meets the wood, and the invisible table begins to appear
out of mind, pure mind, out of nothing, pure thinking.
Through darkness, through silence, a vector, a violence,
I labor, I lumber, I fumble forward through the valley as
winter, as water, I mist and frost, flexible and elastic to
the task. I am the hand that lifts the rock, I am the mind
that strings the worm and throws the line and feels the tug,
the flex in the pole, and foot by foot I find the groove,
the trace in the thicket, the key in the lock, as root breaks
rock, from seed to flower to fruit to rot, a holy pilgrim
moving through the stations of the yardstick. I track,
I follow, I hinge and turn, frictionless and efficient as an
equals sign. I flip and fold, I superimpose, I become
location and you veer toward me, the eye to which you
are relative, magnetized for your revelation. Hook and bait,
polestar and checkmate, I am your arrival, there is no
refusal, we are here, you see, together, we are already here.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more posts like this one, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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