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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 7, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I love Los Angeles and I love the literary communities that flourish here. I met traci akemi kato-kiriyama while typing poems inside Union Station at an event instigated by Writ Large Press. traci is one of the fiercest and most brightly-blazing artist/activist chingonxs I know and after she got sick with cancer, which you can read about through the blog on her website, some friends pulled together a zine and reading as a fundraiser. They invited me to participate and, though I was at a moment in my life when my silence felt more valuable than my speech, I couldn't say no. So I wrote a poem that is a to-do list that is a poem; the title and subtitle state exactly what I hope the poem will be and do.”
—Jen Hofer

future somatics to-do list

                                      a love letter to traci akemi kato-kiriyama
 
does a voice have to be auditory to be a voice?
 
where in the body does hearing take place?
 
which are the questions that cannot be addressed in language?
 
which are the questions where promises lodge?
 
how do we hear what is outside our earshot?
 
when does distance look like closeness, feel like velvet sunrise cheek to cheek?
 
what are the objects, ideas, or experiences we drop beneath the more evident surfaces of our lives to the air or water or ground beneath? do we drop them purposefully? are they forgotten?
 
what word makes the body?
 
what body defies the word?
 
which figures, shapes, presences, haunts, methods, media, modes, ephemera, gestures, abandonments, models, anti-models, breaths, harmonics? which soil? which fields?
 
what does beginning sound like? what body does continuing form? what note does perseverance hum?
 
is a word a body?
 
which apertures? which hinges?
 
where does a body stand without settling?
 
through which holes does history break into our day?
 
where in the past does the future excavate?
 
where in the future does the past propel?
 
what are the distinctions between proximity and simultaneity?
 
where does a body resist without refusal?
 
can borders be exceeded? can borders be disintegrated?
 
where in the body does hearing take place?
 
where in the body does loving take place?
 
how do we make family with someone we do not know?
 
what do we carry with us and where in the body do we carry it?
 
might we be permitted a we this evening?
 
may I hold your hand? to feel your hand as its actual shape, clothed in its papery useful unequivocal skin, bones stacked like tiny branches, the balancing act of a bird, joints unlocking, span from thumb to pinky octaving out toward unfamiliar harmonics?
 
what space does the body occupy despite everything?
 
what does despite sound like? what does with sound like?
 
where does at take place? where does respite take place? 

Copyright © 2018 by Jen Hofer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Jen Hofer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer

Born in San Francisco in 1971, Jen Hofer is a poet and translator.