HIERARCHIES

with lines from Rilke’s First Duino Elegy

~

who
if I cried ~ even if

my tongue
twinned
my

mild disenchantress

my dreams
cold water splashed
with lemon ~

the way the air feels
sweet after suffocation

~

I

needed
& need had me
by the unclean
throat
whom could we ever turn to in our need

everything relying on

the simplest ~

kiss

the simplest

~

a spring flower floated
through memory

to my hand ~ to my silver vase

painted white ~ through memory

an early flower ~ the simplest

the beginning of terror

meaningless ~
under April’s morning smile

~

perhaps there remains
another

aching pleasure another

stripped down daze
a circling buzzard
seeming somewhat similar ~ another

who would come to me

the hardest part being

I hold myself back

~

oh and night ~ oh yes

it follows
like an untrained lover

lapping at
affected grace ~ I ask

full of infinite space

did you see my tongue split
sharp like sugarcane

the simplest ~

uncompromising

like the way I love
but a little less obvious ~

~

like a worm through snow
the way I move ~ I
moved in and never left

trapped within
the hermeticity of the city ~

where I live now ~ the simplest
springtime of my commute
settled square & center ribcage ~

standing clear of the closing

~

is the legend meaningless
meaningless ~

exhausted ~ & vestigial
uncomfortable but resigned

the simplest ~

exotic ~
floating away in every direction

~

and so I hold myself back and swallow
& so

like ~ the space between magnets
I blossom
in half ~

like this ~ I am
a language of gears
flush
matched
mated

like this ~
a distant organism
undressed by anguish ~ I

fling the emptiness out

~

don’t you know yet?
how hard I have been trying ~
a modest

molecule of myself ~
still just able to endure

don’t ask me please
I am tired of rubbing

this dry acre of skin ~
the simplest sky

hangs low
& waits in
an empty alley ~

as if I owe it money

~

my loose mouth
open ~ swallowing fog
inevitable ~ that wind
distracted by expectation

the simplest ~ unbearably
meaningless

being dead is hard work
& I’m performing poorly

~

the solitary heart so painfully meets

another
sometimes somewhat similar ~ so painfully
& still ~

approaching something gentle ~
the simplest

& still ~ still
in our interpreted world

we play at kindness
meaningless ~ alone

the simplest
serpentine tongue
relying on ~

a second ~

the simplest ~ kiss

.

.


Chase Berggrun is a genderqueer poet and the author of Discontent and Its Civilizations: Poems of Erasure, winner of the 2012 jubilat Chapbook Contest, and their work has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee, No Tokens, The Cortland Review, CutbankBOAAT, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. They are Poetry Editor at Washington Square Review, and an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU.