Congratulations to all those on the National Book Awards Longlists, and especially to Charif Shanahan and all the poets.
Specks of toothpaste fleck the mirror.
A fan spins dust in the hall.
I find “this is it” too vulgar to accept
So I wait for a new starting point
As though life will begin there and then.
Do you know what I mean?
Not what I’m saying, what I mean.
Is it possible my function is to hold
All the intricate, interstitial pain
And articulate clarity?
Tie a boat to my wrist, I sprout wings.
Give me a pair of shoes, I grow fins.
Twice an hour I trick myself into focus:
I look into the glass as I look through it.
When the new beginning comes, what then?
Does life suddenly reset like an Atari?
Does meaning emerge
Assertively and without invitation?
The task is to live well enough with you.
But how? How do you know what you want
If you don’t tell you? If you don’t hear you?
— While I Wash My Face I Ask Impossible Questions of Myself and Those Who Love Me by Charif Shanahan