Thirdness / Origin Story Choice C is always the answer if you ask me to choose between A or B— for me there is no “or”— there is always a slippery “and” / which is not the same as neither/both. If you ask me to choose between I will answer “fish” but not to the question “fish or fowl” because “fish” is the answer to “boy or girl”— we all started out by swimming. If you ask me “princess or knight” I’ll say I want to be the stuffed dinosaur because when we play Castle there should be a dinosaur. So many costumes the tall ones make us choose between from the time we are born. Pardon me— I am too busy swimming to put on pants or dresses. See my scales shimmer in the sunlight let my phosphorescence shock you my water-flame my dark-shine my scorchflood— --for Hope
Incidental (Chemo Round Three) “I’ve got nothing left/ it’s kind of wonderful / ‘cause there’s nothing they can take away…” --Broken Bells / Perfect World The industrial part of town has never looked more beautiful— the cement factory proof that bodies are miracles of physics, engineering— My face is raining because the steering wheel fits— because I can hold it today— because there is today— because my hands are working— my knees bend and permit me to accelerate, brake save my life. Down come the gates between me & the oncoming train— thank you, city engineers, for this kindness. Our trajectories now coexist without incident— Incidence. What are the chances of me? I am breathing two days after wondering whether I would continue to do that— I’m swallowing food. I want to wave to the people on the passing train— do they know how beautiful this day is? Do they know their knees are fulcrums and levers? My heart is still beating. There was such pain such unbearable fire I wondered whether it was better to be permanently Elsewhere. And then the cool night— there was Mercy— Reprieve is a beautiful word. Today everything is beautiful (which does not diminish the beauty of any individual incidence)— A seed caught in the fur of an unsuspecting animal and transported elsewhere— the tree that grows is not intentional— not on purpose— yet it grows with intent— such am I— I am unlikely and yet here I am, sobbing in my car as a train full of Beauty speeds past—
Frankie Drayus has recent work in Poemeleon, and past poems and short-shorts in Passager (Honorable Mention), Permafrost, Poet Lore, Barrow Street, Ninth Letter, Third Coast, diode, ART/LIFE (including her collage art), and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the National Poetry Series, Walt Whitman Award, May Swenson Poetry Prize, and Marsh Hawk Press. She is a past co-director of the poetry nonprofit VCP, a multiyear co-curator of THE THIRD AREA, and a recent survivor of breast cancer.
Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.