First Round…

(In which Hoa Nguyen responds to two poems by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

then Joshua Marie Wilkinson responds to two poems by Hoa Nguyen.)


Some Visitant

Attendants were low in

the scenery-ed

encaustic bluing:

so told, so visited

unloved, so crossed

as if weather could vex

that backlit stage in the—-

How many of you is gonna

come by tonight?

I said, how many monsters

of you is going to come to live

here in the action tonight?

*  *  *

HN after JWM

Some, Visiting

Helpers here and bend down

landscaped in my waking

A sky ceiling     A natural tambourine

that rings and rattles


Also: snow

Also: a whoooing


“Unkinged by affection”


One little owl statuette

star-focused on starry love


Count all the

ways to be undone?


We recall the lesser-known cryptids:

Owl Man, Loveland Frog


(Accidentally hitting you with my elbow)

*  *  *



A net
slows in
to come
here a
bit it’s
love now

*  *  *

HN after JMW

A Quake

like the wind
in a net

Rattle away
for it

Meant To

Meant to cover the mouth
Silver strands now    and a cloak
Hair as long as yours    undone
Knocks from the Frigidaire    her
flee to seek
             San Francisco

Eat red candy hearts

    Up from sleeping      wet hair
Sister could see her sticking

You leapt    Her beauty fell
fall of her    Helle was her name

Fall into sea    irretrievable

Cape to ash to mourn?     Her
or was the torch

Did you torch?

Your running

Did you turn when
your sister fell?

*  *  *

JMW after HN

Arithmetic Mean

Said what we’d become would
start us over, six times the fucking’s

It’s that overflooded want we
sought to burn up close to.

Open your mouth to tune your ears.

Fell into a nap after a shower, it was
pouring & the streets went down.

Her name, Gronea or Aisling,
still brought its lovely set of tones
to the neck blood, to blush.

Climbed the rungs of set earth.

Cape to ash to mourn?
To slow to find to feel out with
a parameter’s bankrupt songline.

Did you stay it?

The children threw a pall
of laughter over the back
rows & we wanted to
say it was alright as it wasn’t.

*  * *


After the Song

Descend the ladder
    don’t write it down
an octopus with no arms

What lasts
lust and clapping hands

I used to wait
You shaving your face

a wilderness crescendo
petal folds

tremble and I sign
my name     It’s my
hand on the page

climb back up again

a chorus of screams
Sing      Sing the chorus again

*  *  *

JMW after HN

Flood After

Copper in the eye
to where we want to go
to stay to fix us to what’s
broken here.

Not enough to lure
the seam of the map
into desire’s little clamp.

I used to wait
up all night for something
to stammer the imagination.

A felled tree blanketed
the shoreline’s rocky ledge
with a listing brine

under the cloudfall
It’s not my turn to be bad.
But could it be my turn

Lift off the wounded one’s shirt.

Pull the needle off the record’s
wobbly perch. Breathe deep, alright?
Then put the needle back upon
the record for a breath to fall out.





Second Round…


(In which Hoa Nguyen responds to two poems by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

then Joshua Marie Wilkinson responds to two poems by Hoa Nguyen. For the second time.)



Coiled Out

I went to the precipice of
wanting to dissolve into spectering

with you, teenagerly
the haze from
the window coiled

out around the catty knolls I’ve known.

*  *  *

HN after JMW

Rolled Up

We near the edge      petered out there
and step off into air
How is it that you are naïve

suspended for a moment
before the free-fall

Here: pussy willows

*  *  *


Steam to Mist to Vapor to Fog

Misted leavings so
cataracted along

your spider wants
into the well, your

lice want the moon
& a net to shore

you look through
the tea foliage to stomp

into bags for boiling
I want the words

I gave you back.
You want the words

I gave you to
christen the moans

of a beforefuck now
& I hold off

*  *  *

HN after JMW

The Difference is Velocity

Name the ice
rime on the glass

insecty or bother
like glass on glass

Crack it now but the mouse
ate through the protective

screen    We have to dump
this out and start over again

You weren’t yourself then
Erase the playback

Compose the sonnets
or a sweet heart neck

lace that you did not
garland for the charm

Knock boots you say
& we do


New Poem

Bird    strong back
and brave   see
the little magnet
as a warning

splash true   salty
on the neck
true in the river
where to push

the Greek Athena
and her olive
I have a clean
heart tree
she waved the wing

I bleed this and
it beats true
because it is
fun to be haunted:

a named little girl
the ghost girl
the dead girl   & the
doomed film star

*  *  *

JMW after HN

No Shadow

Thrush here
to soak light
up through a
riverbed’s nimbus

what won’t
just reveal itself
with this shadowy
daylight of Sunday

what’s dirty’s
left to the jag
of the wash where
the bridge finds
a girl ghosting, open

I mark this and
it trues itself to you
because it is
life to be haunted—-

I named
the ghost
not dead & so
undoomed us

 *  *  *


After Sonnet #117

I won’t lawyer love   fish for blue
crabs with chicken necks tied to string
    o Love     how you plumb
and play down the spine of me    It’s the bay
of my youth I’m drawn to     doing leg
lifts à la Jane Fonda on the wooden dock
Pink bathing suit in frays from a second season
    fraying    and I said from there     What you taught me
in dark eyes    the dream of you like a half-
born self of sun and rain     (cloud)       To braid myself
to braid to sunrise myself      a still faced
one       But shoot me not    sting with the buried
arrow      To put among the stars   a constellation
web of love:        music      medicine       shooting

*   *   *

JMW after HN

A Seam

I won’t lionize the seam, seemed to wrack
what I could without the sky to a hoax
    o Love     how you plumb
& re-work the lines I’d thought set
in the mess of smudged ivy at the window
Now no news can topple the song’s gulf
what it throws, what it yields to, what it’s
    fraying    and I said from there
or what got told while I pretended to listen
I was staring into your face I was learning
how to be alive with what I ruined
with what I surfaced----said aloud----& so buried
arrow      To be put among the moon’s penumbra
web of sorrow:        song      pill       shoal