The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a simple verb by JJ Rowan

This selection, chosen by guest curator Addie Tsai, is from a simple verb by JJ Rowan, released by Bloof Books in 2019. 

the women, suddenly partless, suddenly removed, free of wellness, free of parts, unbodied, undone: no one can touch you when you’re partless, no one can hurt you when you’re bodiless, no one can enter you a thin red line in a big book way under the ground


we arrive at the end of the future.

this is not a poem about boxing. this is not a poem about a body entering itself in a ledger. columns for forms of self: none. blank columns expecting. fists I rows. slow self in bottle pouring on. self-made arrangements for the unknown. self-imposed fever. self-collected strain: when saturation happens it doesn’t just happen it reverse-happens.

self in disguise of other self: self-careful. this is not the poem.

the poem is the moment you realize you’re being watched versus the moment you realize you’re being listened to: you set the moment on your tongue, deep into the socket of your hip, snug against your cornea.

what the simple verb is versus what the simple verb wants. hold a simple verb in your body long enough it complexes.

you become your own diagram.

slow down the self or self slows downer. get self up or self stays down. if the letters are apparent can the self be? sink self there are other means of sailing. cut self up everything better in pieces. flatten self we all know about flatness. carry self no one else is going to do it. pockets full of others self on floor.

in winter self goes underground by which i mean self is made of holes.

words belong to others but letters don’t belong anywhere. self belongs to hole in self. hole in self belongs on a loop. pull self out of self get hole. pull hole out of self get bigger hole. fall inside self ok maybe. maybe self always already falling down bumping into things crashing cars bruising wheezing bleeding a little bit applying gauze and ointments bleeding a lot coughing breaking: ow. out. out-self self. out-hole self.


JJ Rowan is a queer poet and dancer living in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, looking for the places where the written line and the lines of the moving body intersect. Their poems, hybrid work, and VisPo have appeared in Phoebe, the HungerDream Pop Journal, and others. Their collaborative sonnets with Nate Logan were recently published in where is the river and in the chapbook mcmxciv. from Shirt Pocket Press. Their most recent chapbook, a simple verb, is available from Bloof Books.

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear TwinUnwieldy Creatures, their adult queer biracial retelling of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. They are the Fiction Co-Editor at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.

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