Two Poems

Matthew Hotham


Let’s not start with love
conjoining’s unlovely—
the androgyne is monstrous: improbable body
with ponderous excess limbs—
Left foot on three. No, YOUR left.
The miss(ed) anticipation of needs:
a hesitance to object—or,
readiness to complain.

Yet, I fantasize in the dual—
today I caught a spider, then set it free,
fixed the running toilet,
and cooked with pomegranate.
I complement myself through compliment,
imagine the figure of an other
who marvels at my deeds.

Union is: a perfection of dreams.
No, it is to leave off sleeping
for the calloused work of days.
And how you have built yourselves for such work—
the grit under nails,
the inflammation and hobbled stride.
How delicate with each other, because you have been
indelicate with yourselves.

I believe in union because I have seen its breaking,
(or I believe only in what can be broken
Or I can’t believe in something until it’s broken.)



my language is an overstock         an exact machine         a whole program of affect
all the brilliance my ego can command

first I bring the anecdote, a talisman of self:

In Bab Touma I am lost, trying to find the internet café
to tell a woman in New Jersey of my heartbreak.
no one will listen
there are two types of silence:
complete sonority     &     sordid calculation

she has been waiting for this message
for years. for the end of my sense of obligation
to another. my brow is thick with salt and dust.
this is wrong         let it fester
guard your tongue, mute devil
be content with your house
hold a stone in your mouth

I spend too much time on backstory. the connection
falters in the past–I cannot bridge an ocean.

the tongue is a wild beast—the tongue is a key to death
there is nothing more worthy of bondage than the tongue
no. one will listen.
Affective space contains dead spots
where jinn live, who should not hear

I am discipled of silence

If speaking pleases you, be silent. If silence pleases you, then speak.
no. one will. listen.
That night, I drink al-Sharq on rooftops, listening to the evening
shoppers hum below, counting, like tasbih, the words to be unsaid.

the hops of licit love curl the tongue to bitter

the loved becomes a dream creature who does not speak


Art by Evie Lovett

Matthew Hotham is author of EARLY ART (Turtle Ink Press, 2006) and Editor-in-Chief of The Carolina Quarterly. He is a PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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