Two Poems

Laynie Browne

from “Mendicant: ‘Dear She’”


The solidity and warmth of your arm upon a counter, and my sudden sense of you very much alive. We all inhabit each other—

And—all of the students in lectures while occupied on devices. Why are they there and—clicked away?

I was at radiation and I was annoyed because they were making me wait. I’d already waited half an hour and I had to give a talk in one more half an hour.

So I said, are you going to treat me? And I really thought that then I’d have to go give my talk—dead.


Your medicine is not my mendicant

Would you rather hike thirst or scour wells? Singe coats or go cold?

Would you prefer this portrait surgically installed?

Or would you prefer a non-surgical progression of pricks before your veins collapse?

And they said you shouldn’t have another glass of winter

And technicians were rough assisting you off of the metal tableau

May I have my opiate vise now, she asks. And the radial engine says no, then wavers, consents

If only you’ll sharpen. If only you’ll share every numb sense

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Laynie  Browne

Laynie Browne’s most recent books include P R A C T I C E (SplitLevel 2015), Scorpyn Odes (Kore Press 2015) and Lost Parkour Ps(alms), in two editions, one in English, and another in French (Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre 2014). Her honors include a 2014 Pew Fellowship, the National Poetry Series Award (2007) for her collection The Scented Fox, and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award (2005) for her collection Drawing of a Swan Before Memory. She teaches at University of Pennsylvania and at Swarthmore College. (Author photo by Joanna Eldredge Morrisey)

You Envelop Me, a book length poetic elegy, takes its title from the thirty-second psalm, and explores connections between birth and loss. How does one in mourning converse with those absent, yet ever present? These poems seek to enter that sturdy edifice of emptiness, wherein time is suspended, and one is paradoxically held by the departed.

“Laynie Browne’s You Envelop Me, written in the tradition of elegy, attempts to come to terms with the continuing presence of absence. The work calls to mind the recent work of Susan Howe (This That) and Cole Swensen (Gravesend) as Browne locates the departed as motion, a wave, birdlike. Mourning in these captivating poems becomes its own birth—a birth where death engenders new life, and changes the terms of what it means to be alive inside grief, within a word, in this world.”
—Claudia Rankine

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