First, you want to light the candle. ThenI want to light the candle, to make the worldthis small—at midnight. The axisof the week one burningthought. A little ballof myrrh released.I've learned each lessontoo late. What does the candle say?"Look at me." / This book says, "Let it burn."I can't love those who say"Let it burn." I don't lovewho I was. Lying down in the darkmemory of the dayto watch a video a friend recordedwith a hundred beautiful strangerssinging, "Shut it down." How finethe line between shutand burn.The screen dissolves.Cheryl is not yet home.Accuracy without ambitionis all I can ask forfrom a poem.
“The Wound” from FUGUE AND STRIKE: by Joe Hall.
Published by Black Ocean on April 04, 2023.
Copyright © 2023 by Joe Hall.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Joe Hall is a Buffalo-based writer and reading series curator. His five books of poetry include Fugue & Strike (2023) and Someone’s Utopia (2018). The Boston Globe: “Joe Hall’s poems move between a fist-pounding urgency, the fire and squelch of this moment of our endtime, and a vulnerability hushed and gentle as a nightgown on a laundry line.” Hall has performed and delivered talks nationally at universities, bars, squats, and rivers. Postcolonial Studies, Poetry Daily, Fence Digital, Best Buds! Collective, terrain.org, dollar bills, and an NFTA bus shelter have all featured his work. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.
“[Fugue and Strike] hums and hollers with filth and eros, with the wasting heap of capitalism.”
— The Boston Globe
“In Fugue & Strike, poetry hovers spectrally above the infrastructures of the capitalist machine, laying bare its circuitry and potential oblivion. A missive smeared in excrement becomes a manifesto. Mutiny is declared against poetic form. Cops and scabs murder each other. In its close examination of the void between labor and commodity, pleasure and oblivion, Hall’s terrifying and often hilarious book envisions ‘a space of public salvage,’ a global common that stretches from Buffalo to Ithaca, to the world. These poems will make you want to strike, fight back, and leave a burning bag of shit on your boss’s doorstep—and for that, we need them. Joe Hall is one of the greatest poets we have.”
— Marty Cain, author of The Prelude
“In the thick of an endless fight for liveable life, Hall presents parallel wastages—both the people made into waste by state and socioeconomic violence, and the excess objects, fragments, sites, and molecules generated by the same violence. The fugue of navigating a breathlessly gentrified, financialized city space leads to a time-hopping study of garbage handlers’ strikes. Words fail, action arises, and somehow, along with it, hope. Any reader sharing this fugue/strike might say, ‘I felt the tip of something I could not see in me that trembles,’ and know that it is not just fear.”
— Jay Besemer, author of Theories of Performance