The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Breakpoint by Betsy Aoki

This selection, chosen by guest editor JJ Rowan, is from Breakpoint by Betsy Aoki, released by Tebot Bach in 2022.

Do I look like I code?

This is what [X_]’s code looks like:
a teletype explodes after eating a dictionary.

This is what coding looks like from behind:
knob over knob of spine hunched over

tympani beat, flat Chiclet clicks,
uneasy buttocks shifting on a hard seat.

This is what [X_] coding looks like:
a shiny silver glow, a dull matte black square,

knob over knob hunched over tufts of hair,
fingers of light across a naked throat.

This is what happens when you code for [X_]:

<                                                >
Whatever you held in that space I erase.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Aoki is a poet, fiction writer and game producer. Her first poetry collection, Breakpoint was a2019 National Poetry Series Finalist and published as the winner of the Patricia Bibby First Book Award. Her poem “Slouching like a velvet rope” won the 2021 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown. Most recently her work is featured in Cascadia Field Guide, a Pacific Northwest nature anthology matching poets with visual artists. Her prior publications include The Margins (Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Uncanny Magazine’s 50th issue, Calyx, and Hunger Mountain.

JJ Rowan (they/them) is a queer nonbinary writer and dancer. Their poems, not-poems, and interactive performances have appeared in the tiny, Dream Pop Journal, 45th Parallel, and at the SMOL Fair and the Splinter Collective’s Interrupted by Trains, among others. Their most recent chapbook is a simple verb (Bloof Books). They are on the editorial team at just femme & dandyYou can sign up for their newsletter, actual motion, at their website.


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