Joan Naviyuk Kane: two poems

A Few Lines With Not-Robert-Bellarmine-Attungana-Kokuluk

Someone told me some weeks ago, in response to general chatter
about my wholly appropriate distress

at and during and with many situations
(for instance, look at all the birds on that one branch)

oh, say— lately— that another party
had texted them: “She knows everything.

She sees everything. And she feels it all.”
Anyhow, back to this poem, and to Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu, who introduced

variolation to Europe. She told Swift and Pope:
stfufu. She also wrote about micro-dosing.

Many of her notions
on translation

(for example) were valid and subversive.

It is rumored that she did not dilly dally.
Look at some of the rhetorical moves
(question, supposition), allusion (hartshorn

tea), Lacan, generalization. Of course, there’s
music, too: w, s, assonance, consonance, vapor,

sorrows, morals, vapours, ashes.

Despite a Refusal to Write Loose Stuff

I don’t bother
to flinch back,

but assign it to faith
and presuppose you as fact.

X maybe caught me

improvising— swig— when you
wouldn’t act.


I number (waxwings) drunk
on bitter fruit

—whose red gear ferments red dram—

on blighted boughs

(a finch) in winter,

(two grosbeaks) clamorous
with irruptive warble,

then (one dead fowl)

I heft over the chainlink.

Yellow plumage near the mountain-ash.
What, I’ve never been lied to?


A lynx, naked, ventures
after a predicament of kitty

as it strives like killer
to fix the cat

in catastrophe

though more limited
than the expensive dog

of X. Than many men.
Their diminutive stun

and choke. Though I hook
me off me, X doesn’t look

at me like that. Now I
redact a few terse moments

from an otherwise private reel
& call
                                        during an unseen
hour. Who answers when I,

split at last into jags,

—swig—demand, well,

how do such birds wheel about

the way our homes
have gone, are going,

so probably ought
to keep on as they go?

X relucts to feign
disinterest but thinks
too fast & flies too slow.

Now with everyday concerns
I did marginalize you—

callithumpian, sullied, void.
Strum, purr, thrum.

Evacuate audience.

Art. Mimesis.

That X got away with words
should not surprise you.


Full bloom in the fullness of time.


Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of seven books of poetry and prose. She raises her sons as a single mother in Alaska and is a 2018 Guggenheim Poetry Fellow.

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