Having Broken, Are

Evelyn Reilly

Grief moves from box to boxCalendars, emoticonsScreen shotsOf a pangolin and a batHaving become the animal, I amAmong the float of heavy beesEvery living thing has its natural historyTree leavesMutual needInsect calipers measuring out probabilitiesThe wind is full of shifting gears, which the overlords use to exert        their usual machinationsFinancial instruments, public relation messagesThere aren't enough scare quotes in the world for thisHope in the presence of other people I once took as a provisional        definitionAmend, repair, revise, recognizeThat kind of incantationBut an incipient way of thinking links us to an unsecured networkHaving been brainwashed as children we must suspect ourselves alwaysDogged associations such as a clearing in the woods closing at the rate        of your own agingYour arbitrary name-sound wobbling in the same breeze        that makes it impossible to turn over a new leaf definitivelyYou can only step into the fraySee what happens in the ecosystem of responseThis may be prophetic pragmatismHow do we do together?Thus it's hair-raising when ancestors grope mystically at my scalpUnion soldiers become Indian hunters, Protestant ministersIndecipherable womenCause permanent itchinessPast futures and future futuresMoth touchdowns have me putting up antennae again as delicate        landing pads open under a fingernail of moony lyric impulseEndless exploratory probingsThe inflammation of unpeaceful centuriesThe respiratory systemsNot breathing well at allThese forests, these streets

Note: The first line of this poem echoes “Unmarked Boxes” by Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks. The “brainwashing” line was adapted from a work of art by Anne Tardos containing the words “I was brainwashed as a child. There was no other way.”

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Color headshot of a smiling Evelyn Reilly

Evelyn Reilly is a New York-based poet, scholar, and environmentalist. Her books include Styrofoam, Apocalypso and Echolocation, published by Roof Books, and Having Broken, Are from BlazeVOX. Styrofoam is widely read and written about as an example of ecopoetics and avant-garde experimentation. John Ashbery described Styrofoam as a “wonderful, mad, challenging itinerary” that might show us “how to go about living in what Evelyn Reilly defines as ‘our infinite plasticity prosperity plenitude’ and still have room for poetry.”

Starting out as a scientist, Reilly got a degree in zoology at U.C. Berkeley and then worked in research labs while becoming a poet and writer. She has been a writer and exhibit developer for numerous museums and is also a member of the Steering Committee of the climate activist group 350NYC.

Cover of the book "Having Broken, ARE"

Buffalo, New York

"With Evelyn Reilly, attention is an active, rather than a passive, force, moving out on beams of language to pierce and participate in the world with an incisive, investigatory care. Often wry, slightly biting, this work locates the more subtle pressure points of our current world, intersections where the fabric is starting to wear thin. She also, and equally unwaveringly, locates its beauty, illuminating it through stunning lines that direct the reader’s attention toward a similarly active participation. A tour-de-force of presence, this is an essential book for the contemporary moment."
— Cole Swensen, author of Art in Time

"Here we are, grimly aware of catastrophic anthropogenic damage to this planet yet still living and even loving our small, ordinary lives. These skewed scales collide and intertwine in Evelyn Reilly’s powerful volume whose vibrant minimalism will fill you with grief and gratitude. Bringing to bear savvy humor and striking clarity of perception, Reilly contemplates dangerous contaminants and corrupted language even as she aligns us more hopefully with 'the mute unfurl / of living things taking / their chances again.'"
— Lynn Keller, author of Recomposing Ecopoetics: North American Poetry of the Self-Conscious Anthropocene

"Evelyn Reilly's poetry evokes and identifies the very deepest and complex emotions lurking below the surface angst of our crimes against and love for the Earth."
— Lyna Hinkel, founder of the climate activist group 350NYC

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