This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Carolina Ebeid. 


Dead Dead Darlings

One sentence held the echoes of a room without furniture.
One narrowed like a corridor leading from the outside in.

One sentence grew out of fashion with the disco-ball maker.
One was radial & wheeling, & the verb spun at the center.

One forecasted an avalanche. One melted on the sand.
One widened its plot for the burying of corpses.

This one came zoo-tamed eating with other nocturnals.
This one came caged like a hotel fire alarm.

This one was a wound. 
This one a stitch. 
This a cicatrix.


The Little I Know about the Forms Moving Through Unlit Towns

to open a jar of water
                 from the Dead Sea
to find no flora or fauna living
                 in that salt lake save
for the numerous bacteria, this is how
                 it gets death into
its name because the saline
                 content cannot sustain

life, to lie down in it
                 and float & float—
to arrive by boat
                 by air                   by walking across

a state line, to see Amrika
                 that first evening
of new homeland, to see the yonder oxen

and amber waves of methane

if you see something say something           

                 to make a digital map              of fear
a shyness map              a map of disappointed lovers           

Do you know how

                 to get where you’re going?

to know where love/sex is wanted
to see it at the bottom
                 of nature, an atom-sized
urge fabricating this shoot-em-up world

to stay quiet a while, to not burn
                 up the house with a box
of opinions, to see nuance, to see the wilderness

in bewilderment
to hold doubts
                 like a brown carton of groceries
                 the loaf of bread sticking out

to see response in responsibility
to call across,                     to call into the hole/

to call across/into
                                                  the line break,
                                                  to wait, to listen—

to see something then say that something
                                 they look motionless
                                 the clouds, crumpled up like sheets
                                 of stationary chucked

those ideas must be gigantic
to walk under the heft
of their thinking              to walk down and catch the A train

Doesn’t it scare you
                   not to have a wherefore? to never know where
in the cityscape we are when underground

to flash like bulbs shutting off momentarily as we shuttle
through, to see your life on an empty seat there, to note
that someone has opened your life to the passage

marked Joy & Company



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).