Two Poems

Poetry by:

Man on Fire

At 6:08 am the call comes in

Is it air? I try to say something
As I read the words “man on fire”
As I use my mouth to say his name
As I want in my memory a memory of his
As I walk through green plots under spring blossoms
As the city walks away
As a witness sees the air
As I read again the words “man on fire”
As gasoline is spilt like holy water
And fires burned through saffron saris
       Then burned through saffron robes,
       Voiced the ash of humans
Still the husband beating through her heart
Still the gingko sheds its stinking leaves
As I picture the park all colored red
As I try to keep my eyelids open
As I push my fingers through the flame
As I press up against the thought of it

A burning lotus soothes itself
     Wordless is the hot white finish
As the body literally becomes the air


The city’s curfew falls and we
hide. You, specifically, drinking beer in the 
grass of the feral yard behind your place in
Crown Heights. We hear the
sound of the helicopter before we
see it and then it is above
us slow as a hammerhead shark in dark
If the cops ever had reason to stop
Free you speak an English
macerated in your Russian
lips. Dim the gaslight, words like
kettle. Fireworks have been a fixture of June
nights since George Floyd was
killed. This June, the Federal Agency for
Forestry in Russia announced 246 forest
fires on 140,073 hectares of tundra in
Siberia. You
pulling weeds in the feral grass behind your
place, filling your palms with sticky
flowers, one hand floating like a
god over the grass. Again, the
fireworks, closer than they’ve ever been
exploding over the
brownstones. Gray-black sky with
smoke like sutures blowing sideways
after the fireworks. On Al
Jazeera, video of the
heatwave in Siberia: The warmer
climate, says the journalist, has
created a surge of insects. This is not
dirt coated thick on the door, it’s
A surge of crime, they say, is probably
subterfuge. Or just summer. We think there is a
plot on behalf of the police to funnel the
fireworks into Black communities.
Free you fingernail X’s into my
mosquito bites.
Pyrotechnics are cheap now because the Chinese
New Year was cancelled due to the
virus, as will be
Pride and the 4th, plus I have seen on
Instagram clips of men by unmarked SUVs
lighting roman candles on
NYCHA blocks and also men selling
chrysanthemums and liquor bottles.
Free you live in the USA unable to
so you show me the photo of you as a little
girl on a blue bike in front of your
grandmother’s house in the Ural
Mountains and free you use your
unemployment checks to buy camping
gear for the Appalachian
Trail. If the cops ever had reason to stop

How does this end for you?
Alice, If our home is murderous by
nature, if we come from nations of murder,
we are, therefore.                      
You left home at
sixteen and free you live in the
USA unable to leave. When does this
country become home?
If you say In spite of or
Painfully; if your family sells your grandmother’s
house in the Urals, the house you grew up in;
if the cops ever had reason to stop
you and you were deported; I see you
lose this country and when you do
some years go by and then you show yourself an
old photo from your life in Brooklyn and
you are in love with the woman you
became here.
From now on, you could be anywhere and the
colors of a neon storefront or
thunder alone, keeping you awake,
will remind you of the
fireworks tonight as we watch brilliant blue
peonies explode and disappear. Flying
fish jitter over the
rooftops like quick yellow drumsticks
breaking down the line.

Follow Addison:

Instagram:  @dots_bodega



Addison Bale is a writer and artist from NYC. His work has developed over the past few years through artist residencies and collaborations variously around Mexico City. Now back in New York, Addison is focusing on projects that bridge the gap between visual art and poetry, lingual barriers, and collaborative modes of making and sharing artwork. His recent poetry is focused on voicing witness to the active and political now.

EST 2020


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EST 2020