This selection, chosen by Guest Leslie Rzeznik, is from This Body I Have Tried to Write by Ja'net Danielo, released by Mayday in 2022.
It’s okay to be sad about the death of a boy you haven’t talked to since you were ten. It’s okay to dream of him as he never was: a man. To want to thank him for the card he left at your door all those winters ago— your name in all caps, heart drawn around it. It’s okay you still don’t know why you saved it, why when you think of him, you think of blue, how one day, everything will be blue—a feeling instead of a thing, soft open space where a sharp, technicolor memory had once been. And it’s okay not to think of your father now, to shut him out of this poem because it’s just too hard. Besides, you’ve got other scabs to pick until you’re nothing but split skin, red-raw. Let’s start with your body—its white blood cells like tiny ghosts swarming your glands, feeding on breath & tears. It’s okay to call it a broken thing, to hate living in this broke- down place, to wash dishes with the knowledge that less breath will come before last breath, that your throat will turn to desert—all rock- earth & bare. Not even your wildflower words will grow there.
Ja’net Danielo is the author of This Body I Have Tried to Write, winner of the MAYDAY 2022 Poetry Micro Chapbook Editors’ Choice Award, and The Song of Our Disappearing (Paper Nautilus, 2021). A recipient of a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Telluride Institute’s Fischer Prize, her poems have appeared in Frontier Poetry, Mid-American Review, GASHER, Radar Poetry, and elsewhere. Originally from Queens, NY, Ja’net teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA, where she facilitates Word Women, a free virtual poetry workshop for cancer patients and survivors.
Leslie Rzeznik lives in southeast Michigan. She earned her BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and won The Academy of American Poets prize in 2013. Her work has appeared in Alyss, Bone Bouquet, Sling Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and Bear River Review.