hobart logo

September 23, 2020 Poetry

Three Poems

Kenny Kruse

Three Poems photo


A person looks out onto the ocean. The water does not look like it is moving. Is it a real ocean? How are we to decide? There is something small and very far away. The person cannot tell what it is. It disappears. There are some birds flying low in the sky, and then the birds land somewhere. No one is telling you where to place them—in sadness or in hunger. The person hears a voice. When they turn around the light has become grey and grainy and they cannot see into the trees. The ocean has begun to move in heavy layers—we can see that it is a real ocean now. The person makes a move toward it and then back. They look as though they are dancing, a slight darkening and dilating of the pupils. Can you see the waves moving there in their eyes, the wild and relentless water? If you look at their pupils from above, the sun’s reflection makes the throat look as if it were on fire, like a hole there, a place of light and heat, a quickening of the voice.


A new position in language, something in between land and water, something in between you and she and we and he and they and I, a new salinized and aquified position in language, the salinized subject in the water, a new kind of freedom in language, a rejection of a separation of this and that, of an understanding of the surface as this and the depth as that, of the language of surface and depth, the focus on the middle of the ocean, a turtle, an interaction, a friction between two surfaces, a new language, a new atmosphere, a new position in language, a technology to go back and forward in time simultaneously, a new technology to be in the present, a new technology of language and power, a new technology of breathing and water, a new swimming, a new pronouns, a new position.


A red smell expels from a chamber in the reef, the salt and its work of further wear. The vacuum—don’t try to fill it with this or that. A loss is never the same from one being to the next, even if the loss, on paper, is the same loss. You lost x and he lost x and therefore you understand each other. But the x in relation to you and the x in relation to them can never be the same x, as x is never alone, it is always in relation to a you, a we, the grid of all of this and that. A marrowless bone, what’s left of a feather, a wisp of plastic bag, a snippet of song, a bit of turmeric, swirl into each other softly. A whale speaks in a whale language to another whale and then here we are and they are not speaking whale at all but something else. We are speaking with them and through them and before them and they through us. What we called a whale cannot be said to be a whale at all, a whale a position in language, the riot of color and sound and smell in this ocean far beyond and saturating a position in language, a new relationship to water, a new sound of separate and together.


image: Aaron Burch