Playing Airplane with my Niece

Jared Harél

I don’t notice the ceiling fan
until it nearly scalps her,
her small head lifted
towards the void, my small life
shuddering at the whip.
But that’s it. No one sees
or cares, and my niece
even begs me, Again, again!
To hoist her into that spinning
thing, until I wonder
if it wasn’t so awful after all,
so near, the way horror
can seem subject to the convenience
of our reactions, a question
of taste. Or how we all sit down
for bagels and cream cheese
while a blinkless whitefish
lies gutted and agape.

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Jared Harél has been awarded the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from American Poetry Review, as well as the William Matthews Poetry Prize from Asheville Poetry Review. Additionally, his poems have appeared in such journals as the Bennington Review, Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, and Tin House. Harél teaches writing at Nassau Community College, plays drums, and lives in Queens, New York with his wife and two kids.

“Funny, heartbreaking, and downright scary—all at the same time. Don’t get cozy with this book, because here, even during the most joyful domestic moments like playing airplane with a child, death is always near: ‘I don’t notice the ceiling fan / until it nearly scalps her.’”
— Anders Carlson-Wee

“Harél’s lucid poems are filled with the miracle of the domestic and daily, and backlit by a sense of how fragile any life may be in the struggle to deal with contemporary reality’s undercurrent of malice, accident, absurdity, and terror. These poems reflect a searching intelligence in the precision of each line and in fresh portrayals of how our choices cannot be unmade. I’m grateful for the hard-purchased clarity of these poems and their radiant explorations of a fully genuine life.”
— Lee Upton

“As with so many of us, Jared Harél is waging a battle with solitude and loss, the harm that can hide, even within love. He does so, though, with rare grace and tenderness, in poems of great imagination and beauty. I want to kiss you. Build asylum inside you brings to mind what I like best about his work—that the connections between us earn more of his singing than do the ways we spin apart.”
— Bob Hicok

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