This week in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor TC Tolbert features a poem by Emily Kendal Frey. About Frey’s work, Tolbert writes: “In a time of increasing political and social upheaval, Emily’s work grounds me in the extraordinary-ordinary, a daily-ness worth defending. Her attention reminds me of something Alice Walker says in Anything We Love Can Be Saved: ‘even the smallest stone glistens with tears, yes, but also from the light of being seen, and loved for simply being there.’ I am buoyed by this generous clarity.”

You Are Already Doing It

Someone not in politics

Big bunch of bananas

A long clear light

Having sex with you feels like fruit

The outside and inside

A skin, life under it

When I got to the lake I saw it

A dangly earring shape bordered by trees

We led my mom too far

Had to climb a nest of boulders to get back

It’s okay she said

I want stronger legs

I can’t hold everything I know

Every day my body more angry

Waiting for some part of the mystery

To dispense itself

On the bus, buying groceries

Saying small lies

Soothing them into your narrative

If it’s no one’s fault

The lake has to hold it

The hope of a tourist

All those family bits

Shedding skin

An emerald

On a tiger’s head

I don’t love

The path

But I love its alive and growing border

Me and you


Wishing for more



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).