Jane Gregory’s poetry privileges sound — one of poetry’s most powerful aspects — over meaning, looping nonlinearly while stacking and riffing off prior language. The second line is a near replica of the first, sharing most of the same words but rejiggered syntactically so that the tone of the line changes. The minute readers try to grasp onto traditional notions of subject matter, the poem swerves linguistically, forcing us to find meaning in the substance of sound, of movement. The poem itself is a representation of motion rather than meaning, and of the cycles of life where things happen in constant loops of living and tears. Selected by Victoria Chang
Beyond Theity, Ity Idiom/Dear Faith
By Jane Gregory
This is the sound of the sun on a loop
What was the sun is the sound of a loop on
This is a range arrayed and able
Officer, I heard the sound of the sun
and it meant burn them down and was smart
arson and underneath arson dirt and under that my eyes.
This whole road was made of my eyes many many
eyes and was called for, called
vision that carriage of sight.
The wheels of which,
through motion, make music, then
you strike a note to decide for what
it was struck, say stricken.
Say I am as I am able, a donation. Bone
demented cement, cemented
lament. And all motions were repetitive
motions, a wind in the tree, the wind on a loop.
Science was the only joke we had
and we told it back and forth, sometimes
it went life is where I do my actions,
sometimes it wept and wept.
Victoria Chang is a poet whose new book of poems is “The Trees Witness Everything” (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). Her fifth book of poems, “Obit” (2020), was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Time Must-Read. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in Antioch University’s M.F.A. program. Jane Gregory is a poet whose books include “My Enemies” (Song Cave, 2013), from which this poem is taken, and “Yeah, No” (2018). She lives in Oakland, Calif.