Published on Academy of American Poets (

a feeling has passed before a charted present

I wanted to write a book that was like lying down.
            —Bhanu Kapil

a feeling has passed before a charted present
a possibly expired desire
a replacement of Whitman’s body with his opposite
a polite vengeance

a presumed minor literature
a simile not in force
a yoking of the concrete
a myth makes

a body subject to forces not legislated to pass over a same
a memory uncertain about a sentence
a certain observation of an indefinite object
a response barely stands

a sentence only to signal an unwritten
a demand for a law barring its passage and end
a tapeworm, a pinworm, a hookworm, a threadworm
a fluke a sentence wants never to end


Copyright © 2021 by Kimberly Alidio. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I’ve been thinking a lot about feminist art of the femme body, especially the body of a self-identified woman of color. Ana Mendieta and Laura Aguilar, for example. Bhanu Kapil’s writing and performance art bring a speaker’s body into text where the body at times lies down to mark important sites of struggle. Kapil’s sentence, ‘I wanted to write a book that was like lying down,’ is so evocatively strange in terms of verb tense and figurative language that it sparked my poem, first in the form of a prose poem. I revised it into a lineated litany or list because I wanted to write a poem that was like slowing down a sentence. I want the present tense to listen to its possible futures, and to ask, ‘What kind of power of undoing is wielded by being undone?’”
Kimberly Alidio


Kimberly Alidio

Kimberly Alidio’s most recent books are why letter ellipses (selva oscura, 2020) and : once teeth bones coral : (Belladonna*, 2020), a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. A poet, essayist, and educator, she lives on unceded Munsee-Mohican territories, also known as upper Hudson Valley, New York.

Date Published: 2021-08-04

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