Straight, No Chaser

John Keene

In the warm compartment of the 33rd St.train the quiet catches fire and I lightmy mind on thoughts of you and meon Seventh Avenue where Perry slipsin and Jeeps raced past afternoonsas if on West Street, how any man couldhave had me once but you do. Like todaywhen icy rain paints the Village glassand I glide down a strip of slick sidewalkonto Sixth and 9th, a vision of you risingin me as a landscape of possibilityand though it's freezing and I'm soakedthrough it all I still stand there eagerlyon the cement because the gray lightin the winter sky is evening and soonenough you'll be off and meet mewith your eyes at Journal Squareand later we'll play, two ballersshadowing each other's movesthis freestyle of loving, our groove.

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John Keene is a writer, translator, professor, and artist who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2018. In 1989, Keene joined the Dark Room Writers Collective, and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem Writers Workshops. He is the author of Annotations, and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. Keene is the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Whiting Foundation Prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and the American Book Award. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.

Award-winning poet Elaine Equi selects the poems for the 2023 edition of The Best American Poetry, “a ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title” (Chicago Tribune).

Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry series has been “one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets). Each volume presents some of the year’s most striking and innovative poems, with comments from the poets themselves offering insight into their work.

For The Best American Poetry 2023 guest editor Elaine Equi, whose own work is “deft, delicate [and] subversive” (August Kleinzahler), has made astute choices representing contemporary poetry at its most dynamic. The result is an exceptionally coherent vision of American poetry today.

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