Also in this issue, an excerpt from Yael Shinar’'s poetic documentary AWAKE, ALERT, ORIENTED


Contributor Notes

Yael Shinar

Yael Shinar

Yael Shinar




How do I speak

without synonyms?


I could say that she died,

by the digits of her hand and perhaps of her mind.

I could say that the usual things happened:

the muscles stiffened,

the bowel moved,

the urine leaked


onto her casual clothes, down to her black socks.

Her eyelids went a little blue and tears dried on her face.

Then professionals came.


Had she let me, I would have taken her to a surgeon,

to implant my love a little deeper.

Then to remove the anesthetic mask that covers her now like a prayer shawl.


Over a year, my grief leaks out of me like sweat, and my bowel moves.

I restore stores, I remove waste, and I scour fleeting illnesses.


Part of the whole story goes like this:

her brother found her, hanging, still his own as ever.

Her mother asked “yes” and “no” questions about the past.

Satisfaction from sugar became more fleeting after her burial,

and also more sufficient.

I began to chart distances between synonyms.


It was noon, probably, when she began to die.

Evening came, and I cried with my boyfriend.


Next, the sun rose, distinct in the sky-blue sky.





If God Does Not Sit in the Nostrils of the Starling’s Beak





to wake alone

to open the window to spring chill—

a stranger to the dew


to wake alone, wander room to room,

turning on lights,

turning them off—


the heater turned on, a tourniquet to

quiet this mind—

the birds outside—

their feathers tremble in the breeze—





This world, a substantiated adjective meaning God,

which means,


alive and looking, or


pressing my thumb into an old wall to taste and erase the dews of the ancients, who built it, or


the anchor that holds no ship

in the shallowest dune of the sea,

the chain billowing up

to the surface of the water, or


hearing gaps between the singing and the sung, my heart, or


memories, like ripe, wet bones in flesh.


Or the one by whom

we take the long view—         

we see our children,

one of them will be happy

of this land


The one who, when I ask now, “What land?”

says at one breath in one time,

“The one you stand on.”

“The other one.”





Stranger, consider the neighbor

who wakes and makes coffee,

straps leather over the arches of her feet

in the same gulp of time—


on loan from the heavens, or from God,

or from whatever we depend upon

to rewrite confusion, each morning,

in sconces of blessing—


as the blue blurs into yellow,             

the way light,

but no human pigment



we have an analogy for this:

the child moves from sounds to words,

intention has already been there some



this is no drastic or lamentable change,

it is the mystery becoming the writing,

the air

becoming the breath—





Morning dews                        

on blades of grass,      

across the down of birds,

into the veins of leaves.                     



The leaves, they are this polysemic,

polytheistic prayer,

bowing all around

to seek the old shoot              


that vanished long ago,

last winter.

The song of the leaves

sings quietly


one history of one people

to many

unswaddled souls.

They are looking


for the name of their God,

whose call they heard all winter

who created limbs for them

they only now see— 


—If God does not sit in the nostrils of the starling’s beak,

the veins of the eye

writing their script

on the new world.





Twelve Starts




You’ll have twelve starts from beginning to finish,

and when you get to eleven, we lose count, we start over.



The city gate

cannot tell us

by what hand it grew,

was cleaned

arched its back to let the night through

its narrow veil

of stone.



The city,

so many times torn

and born



The sun set, having no regret—



There are long days available to us.



Available to us, water, the sun setting.



Apples will ripen, someone will bake yeast bread,

even in seasons we lie in bed and grow thin, thinking.



A woman in a blue dress is native to this country in the sense that, like it, she mimics the sky.



Guilt echoes through our organs like organs in church bathrooms.



Have I nothing to say that will etch

into emptiness


a sign of justice?





seem wise investments—



not to hang, but to make,


to get to know the wrist—



a solitary lovemaking


to time



Which way to the beginning?

I’ll follow you