Reflection: Eli Nadeau

dark reason shivering lilies dreamed revolution ribcage
Eli Nadeau

about the time i got hired as a teaching assistant for a class of seven, plus one Catherine Barnett,
which is to say

we drank café con leche, i had two, you paid.

i listened to your poems, in your voice, the week before, in my office, alone, with the stuff
that the city does on a summer evening with light and wept.
Catherine you were so beautiful
we met on the upper west, and it was raining, and we drank café con leche
and then you the class, and then you the hurricane, and then your
i thought we’d just give up breathing
some of you showed up and
some of you did not and
Catherine, didn’t we talk on the phone, wondering
how to make it safe
and then we found together
all of us found together
that if one is broken in places

finds oneself limping

one applies
& if one knows that something sings
from a difference place
than where the mouth
opens, the breath draws
one hopes, takes out loans
so that one might
one day stand
but  that reverence      of course         is not enough
figured we’d think [the words that make our world]
talk about rhyme, knew better
nothing better than to imagine something taught
lives in these
wrists but i’d done some time
and probably you had too

we thought democracy

we thought ++ poetry

showed me
when you showed up
you wrote
            the dark room that I am writing in is my mind
you wrote
            find me a reason to feel American today
            that doesn’t involve murder
you wrote
            the body/dearth of water, where shivering,
            rushed everything, and every day came closer
you wrote
            each year you intend to give her lilies in December
you wrote
            when I could walk on water, I dreamed of land
you wrote
            when you are powerless, let your revolution be powerless
you wrote
            before i was born you had a strange feeling behind your ribcage

and you wrote
            accessible, vivid and eventually arriving
           throws you into fits of
           thrashing thought, makes you leave home or makes you make love
           express through language what
           language can’t express
           forget about the bricks of a narrative, focusing
           instead on how it feels to step inside the house
          what, like you’ve never wanted to say everything
          you’ve ever felt in a single breath?
          a political act in and of
          itself, with its own language of agency, power, privilege, and influence
         a feeling, displaced in a corporeal consensual reality that did not receive
         my consent
         and we do all the whispering/groaning/thieving/yolping/dueling/shirking/praising/harrumphing stuff you’re
              supposed to do in a workshop and
Riggio poets, Riggio res publica
We come together this way, what a privilege


Eli Nadeau is or has been attached to the University of Minnesota (Anthropology), The New School (Creative Writing), the Riggio Program for Writing and Democracy, and the journal LIT. Current research considers fissures in politics and poetry.

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