Poem: Powerless Self-Judgement

Visionary poetry, despite the word we use for it, so often achieves its effect through sound, not image. Cadence can shatter us, set the world ablaze. Will Alexander’s work is like this — oracular, oneiric, incandescent. Diction has its own metaphysics. The gray stupor of the quotidian is held a dream’s length away. The body becomes the cosmic supplicant, matter as spirit’s ghost. Selected by Anne Boyer

Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman

Powerless Self-Judgement

By Will Alexander

The body as deserted burning witness
as ghost
as primeval leper
that attempts to lessen its own ruin
by telepathic power
beyond its state as catastrophic cretin in judgement of itself
as toneless mirage
being factor by phoneme
by nerveless adventure
as powerless stride
that corroded its own apparition

Anne Boyer is a poet and an essayist. Her memoir about cancer and care, “The Undying,” won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Will Alexander is a poet, essayist, novelist, aphorist, visual artist and improvisatory pianist. He has published 38 books, and his 39th, “On Dar el-Hikma,” is due this fall from Africa World Press. He is currently a poet in residence at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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