i have wanted to be a sieve

i have wanted to be an anechoic chamber

and reflect back to you     no sound

but for the quiet rush and thrum

of your own nervous blood


i have wanted to be instrument

and not just body     to be felt

the cleavage of the world through

but instead to splay the invisible

light waned out through     skin


          skin and rushes
          a bird-wing desire
          alight and under       {fire}


                                               {i} walked out into the burning-est
                                               woken / of time / am i / 
                                               enough / as light / in the interim
                                               / inner of darkness / now entering
                                               / the 
machine / in knowing of
                                               cloak & insidious /
                                               of wonder / & plunder /
                                               not to seek / satisfaction
 in peaks
                                               / & difficult in climb
                                               / & / into surrender's don’ts //


                                               {i} walked out
                                               into the brilliant
                                               wokenest of
                                               time & everything
                                               was trite-ist


Copyright © 2019 by Dao Strom. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem at the end of 2016. In the wake of the election, the phrase ‘burning-est woken of time’ spoke to a sense of urgency and self-questioning as to what kind of ‘instrument’ I would wish to be, and how. I remember there were a lot of words in the air at the time, rhetoric zinging back and forth on how to fight, resist, right and wrong ways to be, etc.—and maybe in response a part of me was craving a quieter version of myself, to be a conduit and hold channels open without falling prey to (or simply reflecting back) the anxieties around me/us. Playing with ‘-ist’ and ‘-est,’ and the placement of stanzas were further ways for me to contemplate sound and the extremities of language, as well as the slippery ease with which we create hierarchies of meaning by how we configure words.”
—Dao Strom