Today in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Shane McCrae features a poem by Dora Malech. About Malech’s work McCrae writes: “Dora and I once had books come out at the same time on the same press, and I’ve always felt blessed by the association. Dora does—effortlessly? it seems effortless—things with words I only wish I could do. Words electrify her mind, and, crucially, she sends the electricity back—at least, that’s how I think it works, because the words on the page crackle and buzz. There is just so much sonic euphoria in her work! But—and this is what does me in—that isn’t all there is, even though that alone would be enough to keep me reading. Her poems sometimes shift suddenly and enormously into different registers, often into heartbrokenness. Her control of these shifts is perfect. And—and you can see it, I imagine, my bewilderment—I just don’t know how she does it.”


Last meme down: to off our inner faith in
lit ions, amen (fin), fume of tore and throw,
stone hid unfelt, from “we” (from an “I” to an “I”).
Nil with rot, a minute off deforms an eon
of meat run low, no foment, a tired finish,
mere sunlit affair. Oh, to find moon, went
wet at dim. Afternoon sinner, hum if fool
is true of mow, of annihilated front-men,
stunt-man, of him, an indoor Eiffel Tower,
non-sonata writ mute. For me, no HD life. If
radio, some worn tune. Then, main lift-off:
off-line, not no raft, I swim out here. Damn
if’n I wasted no moment of hurt on a rifle.
Old “No room at the inn,” i.e., FU. Warn: stiff me
One time, shame on, off, until worn adrift.
Must we fail in one form to find another? 


Descreation Myth

Lay a waste from out thy ode.
                                     What to do after you slay me?

Start anew, lifeless.
                       Start a new life, less

servant to order than
                         tres avant throne. Rod,

sweet slaughter. 
            Sweet’s laughter

supersedes repose,
                        seeds so pure. Spree:

stun me. Stain us. O lab
                         most unsustainable,

slab on which slit to mend means
                                    moan me silent, switch, lash, bond,

warmed over meals of pieces stolen,
                           slow violence of parts. See me armed.

Sweet meter, I’m a soft sum. Hone thy mark. Mark
                                                                         why monsters must make meat of their maker.


Assail      as sail      ails as

I task—      ask it.
As sign      sings a

                                    post-      STOP,
                                    bleeds past,       pleads best

our nil fetters      in four letters,
claims curse,      claims cures,

tries      rites,
                                                    I rest

so after hope’s test,      step so to the fears
in a red address,      redress, and aid,

after my fashions,      say offer’s in math,
in simple subtraction,      in traction, sub simple

for, like, minds,      skid line from
my you’re all mines,      null. Yes, more may I?

                        Alas, no.      Also an

obit—an . . . and better      torn at, bite, and be,
than never
 . . . and so on.      None. On. Hand averts

real day, an end rote. Intuit or thank your god
or do one in. And take your tight turn, already. 


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