This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features five poems by Krystal Languell. 


Poem for my Friend in Philadelphia

By the end of summer, all the decisions
& all the interring, the full shift to open
air will be complete. What it means. You
recall an old dog, muscle past concrete.
The elements conspire, eject their effluvia,
the burst zit of some creature ruins a nice
moment & we put our sunglasses on.
Show me that lighter thing again.


Poem for my Friend in Los Angeles

That you’ve found your name someplace
it doesn’t belong, I regret with you.
The scope of gratitude expands so wide
to pre-empt future criticism, inclusive
and ungenerous. And what part
of a list of names is afterthought?
Go alphabetical, camouflage hierarchy.
Didn’t you ring people up at Target
for 12 months to get onto a man’s margin?
I know you’re no feather.


Poem for my Friend in Kansas

Are you waiting? The controlled experiment
can fail in spite of its correct plan. Next
time we’ll walk the downtown mall slowly.
You’ll inherit a lot of diamonds & I will
hang a shadow box displaying scrimshaw.
The gifts travel toward us, right now, &
you hear yours before you see it. That soft
putter—such a pure stone—is coming closer.


Poem for my Friend in Ohio

I am glad you were not found in a
pit this morning or any other morning
beneath the shed of a troubled white man
in your state. I am glad that we, you and I,
only get groped on the street or
masturbated at on the NJ Transit bus,
that we are alive and not buried and
not buried alive, at least not by dirt,
a shed, that man.


Poem for my Friend in Brooklyn

Feeling very named, you hesitate
to condemn a man. Your star quality
directs you to keep an open heart
even as you sometimes suffer
loneliness in your hub. You mean
to complete & to hum. The aphorisms
broadcast: feel free. A new moon brings us
success, dampened by private crumbling.

                                                                                  Would we x better with(out) x?



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).