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Paloma Yannakakis

Paloma Yannakakis' poems have appeared in Lana Turner, Washington Square, Afternoon Visitor, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from Cornell and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She currently lives and teaches literature in New York.


At the far end of your story,

just like that, an albatross

on trussed-up turf decanting

the ephemeral into

dust. Unfettered

handiwork. I waded in

to watch the strips of wall coming down.

Singed bits collapsing, flying.

Afterwards, it cost little to gaze

up at the black earth and imagine

it was once surrounded

by a velvet night.

Someone tacks sideways with painted rags.

We overturn the chairs one by one

tilted to the side of the wall, casting

no image. Only a triangle finds its way

into the steep light, growing larger.

Pluck one muscle, then the other,

the one at the center surrounding a lake.

It’s low and moves at a thousand paces per hour,

speech piling like straw on water.


I live in Paradox

the dark so dark that

fallen leaves map out the forest ground.

In golden organ

myself another animal

such as this - speechified thing

bidden accident of

leaves made to grapple in

the cold itself -

So I entertain the mist

and write down shapes for words,

words saved, held against some future loss,

rubbing my eyes at the thought of

losing you that held the shield behind the rocks,

tin soldier without pockets.

Searching in the rhododendron bushes

for the past. In its scent we sewed

our skins together. With its cover,

languish the wet face

of all our days. To never bear

the bare arms of a

question again.

Journal of Discontent (2)

I slept in the shadow of my waking

the curve of its ash branched

into morning tremor, jay

that jangled. Galloping across my chest

the many-stranded cough, incipient wave.

Wings shadow wings

on the window frame,

flashing tips

landing on the clapboard outside.

When it was no longer possible to pretend

we would escape unscathed, to move an inch

meant the world.

The ground cut away,

sash of remembrance roped to

some forgotten tree at the edge of a

public square.


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