All that turns is a wheel The skyis ashen & a wheel that is turning as we crossa bridge of stone It is not yet noon in the port where I live Like any a poem that is after you Paul at Pont Mirabeau We touch a bridge & therefore its stone To touch a stone is forever to touch a bridge In the streetthey are starting fires It warms even us What was crossed out is not the same as what was never written down Mountains mind even us Looked at last at the branch that plaits your face Symptom like we cling gardener to each Love referentless From the roof ofthe apartment branches break their pits seedless within it men in trees sing In the aenigmaof a shadow of a window left openfor windto leave In the thought that cannot account for form & having spent thoughtwe encounter form only In the distance between the hole ofa stone & a dove within it Of all we have imagined & we haveimagined such distances What is known & not known You touchthe stone it could be any stone I live on It is fallingash in Santa Ana falling in your year irrecoverably in the eveningholding hands our selves into the evening we wept a quiet English the day contained (Such silence suddennow in the clearing A tarpchains the lot of our speech Sunday no women washing at the washing stones The past is only the only mutable thing) A lone tanker in the waves swims
From a Year & other poems by Jos Charles (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022).
Copyright © 2022 by Jos Charles.
Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.
Sergio de la Torre
Jos Charles is author of the forthcoming collection a Year & other poems (Milkweed Editions, March 15, 2022), feeld, a Pulitzer-finalist and winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series selected by Fady Joudah (Milkweed Editions, 2018), and Safe Space (Ahsahta Press, 2016). She currently teaches as a part of Randolph College’s low-residency MFA program. Charles has an MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently a PhD student at UC Irvine. She resides in Long Beach, CA.
Jos Charles’s poems communicate with one another as neurons do: sharp, charged, in language that predates language. “A scandal / three cartons red / in a hedge / in / each the thousand eye research of flies.” With acute lyricism, she documents how a person endures seemingly relentless devastation—California wildfires, despotic legislation, housing insecurity—amid illusions of safety. “I wanted to believe,” Charles declares, “a corner a print leaned to / a corner can save / a people.” Still the house falls apart. Death visits and lingers. Belief proves, again and again, that belief alone is not enough.
Yet miraculously, one might still manage to seek—propelled by love, or hope, or sometimes only momentum—something better. There is a place where there are no futile longings, no persistent institutional threats to one’s life. Poems might take us there; tenderness, too, as long as we can manage to keep moving. “A current / gives as much as it has,” writes Charles—despite fire, despite loss.
Harrowing and gorgeous, a Year & other poems is an astonishing new collection from a poet of “unusual beauty and lyricism” (New Yorker).