are you ready to get a little
more comfortable
with your un-
i lay next to you
& in my body
it will always be
it will always hit
different than
in or for
in this world
i enact separation
for the sake of spelling
the exposure
distance (unsung
textures) between
& mine
how to cultivate need-not
because i have felt alienated on most days
& so what
stepping onto a stage
is always an act of self
violation in-
violate or inviolable
we self
we ensoul
we insulate
despite introversion
despite inversion
our art needs
to count
even more now
because momentarily
i had forgot white
is a color of mourning
in the culture
of my birth
black the one
for anniversaries & birthdays
you see how easily
we shift our grief
into complementary
is not the same thing
as instinct or
/ heart maybe
which you place
conveniently low
in the body
in that space you frequently turn
(back) to //
white boys will always take it
upon themselves to remove
orange cones
on their own impetus
thinking it alright to intimidate
into riding
when they don’t really want to
i’ve always hated that
body suggestions
of perils to enjoy
levity at the cost of empathy
if you want anything
from the body
if you fear anything
of the body
then look first
(into the eyes)
see how
does not occur
before the (un)-
of action
what are you ruled by
why do you still wear it
i gleaned whiteness
in a snow globe
in the dressed-up corpses
of trees spied through
xmas night windows
in a land where snow
is ecologically
especially in April
they played the song about white-dreaming
to let the nonpeople know
it was time to go
and in response
we were the ones who sought to die
in our most ridiculous naive
die intelligently enough
to be permitted to crawl inside
but our innocent flush of living
always gets in the way
coming from so much death
how could we not know
we are alive


Dao Strom

Dao Strom is the author of Grass Roof, Tin Roof, a novel, The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys, a book of novellas, and We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People, a hybrid forms memoir accompanied by an album, East/West. Her work explores hybridity through melding disparate “voices”—written, sung, visual—to contemplate the intersection of personal and collective histories. She has received support from the Regional Arts Culture & Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and, most recently, a 2016 Creative Capital Artist Award. She lives in Portland, OR.

Cover image by Sarah Meadows


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