John Keene | Playland

keene_playland_webPlayland: poems by John Keene. Number 3 in Volume Four of our limited-edition Summer Kitchen Chapbook Series, now available at summer’s end.

Cover image: antique quilting fabric, Pennsylvania. Series design by Ron Mohring.

Published: September 21, 2016 [49 copies]
35 pages
$9.00   S O L D   O U T

John Keene is the author of the novel Annotations (New Directions); the art-text collection Seismosis (1913 Press) with artist Christopher Stackhouse; the short fiction collection Counternarratives (New Directions), which has been named to “Best Fiction of 2015” lists by New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, LitHub, Flavorwire, and other publications; and the art-text collaboration with photographer Nicholas Muellner, GRIND (ITI Press). He has also published a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer (Nightboat Books / A Bolha Editora), and has exhibited his artwork in Brooklyn and Berlin. A longtime member of the Dark Room Writers Collective and a graduate fellow of Cave Canem, he currently serves on the board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and teaches in the departments of English and African American and African Studies, which he chairs, and also is a core faculty member in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, at Rutgers University-Newark.

for Phil Horvitz 

If sorrow is a suit, its weight is incalculable. One day he’s gone
and you put it on. One day he’s gone and it sews itself inside you.
Mourning drapes your skin in its invisible fabric. Every memory
furs atop a prior memory. Your limbs, your features, your senses
extend themselves to accommodate the sadness.  One morning
you wake and try to wear this new suit in the bathroom or the
bedroom, in the shower or at the front door, down the stairs of
the stoop to the walkway hovering before you, and you finally
realize you are carrying another body, his body, your former
body, your bodies together, in and on you, and this slows you, and
stills you, weighs more than two bodies or many bodies inside
your body, it’s like the bodies are breeding bodies, metastasizing
bodies, so much bone and vein and hair, and you touch the force,
the heat of the seething arteries, feel the sheer new tonnage mov-
ing and pressing in on you, grief’s scent like the first breath in a
foreign country, and you fear your entry but you’re already in.
You think of flight but woe offers no exit. You sing, you weep,
you dance but there’s no way out. Except one. Through your own
skin. This one, heavy with sweat, matted, half-shed and broken
by a delta of scars, smelling of something familiar, indiscernible
and animal, slick and smoldering like volcanic rock, as white as
ash, and death itself: take it. You take it. You take it off.

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