Poesía by Alli Warren

From Feminist Formations 28.2


Did Cavewomen Come

           after Stephen Rodefer

at the start of the century
the radio recruited me
into relational self-shattering

the radio was still the radio

come with me my love
through the sea
the unimpeachable sea

is all understanding a private feeling?
is receptivity redemptive?

everything that goes to make up the air

“what its being asked makes happen”

the tone bearing thrust
the song and its mouth
the coin and its mint

conflating structures of knowledge
with structures of vision

peep holes
at the bulbs
of the vestibule

they sell all that
shit at the mall

O sovereignty
of the tongue
felt venturing
and what
and where
shall this
or that occur

what its being made
makes happen

it goes 1 2 3 4
experience, interpretation,
codification, remembrance

to take up a position inside stats
no, stars

what its being made
asks of us
who happen
to have been
brought to question

to demonstrate my happiness to myself
no, understanding
no, feeling

to call the burn
of the lush I need
to be the warp
and the weft

guarding the milky tanker
prodding the ghost bridge

my national flag is wet nuance
the only flap worth flying
a luscious spittle



Everybody Loves a Runt

The morning after
on the couch of what would being
an agent feel like
I’m talking to my shoe

Where is that balcony
beaming skyward
what do my lungs do
and my liver
on this earth
having this body on this street
and emptying spent

If in my ear
there is a choir
I am not alone
and lifted by that number
into the temperate air
where bulbs like buds be strung

I cave my breath and back
over the bar’s amber pleather
and make a knot
over the dull closure
of safe-keeping

Flowering cacti,
generous middle
if eating is aim-inhibited kissing
perversion is a turning
away from the earth

I want curiosity
over consolation
fantasies of function and
I’ve got legs
in the pointless humidity
of a Thursday morning



Total Vocation

If I press my upper territories
against another dream
to coat the loss of merging
is desire a thick set band
so tight about the jaw that it breaks
the belt and the jaw both

If I tug up from under
fluttering attachment
If I reduce drift and perfect alignment
is there any space left in the breathing world
within site of that sweat beading
on the right side of your open neck
with pants so tight everyone
will understand the conditions that produced them

The connection will hold, or it will not
There is copper and industry 
for the structure to take
or there is not
Where the lap and where the head dunked in brine
Where the coax of a toe dipped in a tub deferred
Is this not refreshment or refinement
or the flecked soup of what won’t be

I linger in that residue
uninitiated and dumb in repetition
“employing all my strength to be resigned”
My landlady paints the whole thing forest green
the beak, the hole
and the emotional austerity
which precedes and surrounds it

O malleable heart
O irreducible cement
I am left-footed in deliberation
in domination’s lusty grip
I’m clamoring for enlargement of the spheres
The indication on the outside
represents the tokens on the inside
Sound only exists as it is going out of existence


Alli Warren’s books include I Love It Though (Nightboat, forthcoming 2017) and Here Come the Warm Jets (City Lights, 2013), which won the Poetry Center Book Award. Her writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Poetry, Jacket, The Brooklyn Rail, and Rethinking Marxism. She co-curated The (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand, co-edited the Poetic Labor Project, and edited Dreamboat magazine. Alli lives in Oakland.