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About this poet

Dora Malech is the author of Stet (Princeton University Press, 2018), Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). She is the recipient of a Writer’s Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Center, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, and an Amy Clampitt Residency Award. She lives in Baltimore, where she is an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

AS[ ]K

Or else I said ash,       as I do.
                                                       Selah, rise

to it, all not      lit at.
                                        No lot

empty or otherwise
swore the pity more
empty or otherwise
              Yes, threw time
              swore try it (me).
Empty or otherwise

they wire:
                         MORE STOP

lie all evocative      i.e., I’ll vacate love.

A timid       I admit

I want out      now, taut, I

added need,      dead ended

en route.
                         Seems I’m sewn too tight.
                                                                            Spit me
to shine.
                    Moot emesis.
                                                 Wept rust me.
                                                                              Get in.

Sometimes we step into something true.

Woke in the wake of      he knew too.
                                                                            Weak if,

            Us,      the sun’s

to set null, red into its      unset still, rode into T-

minus us,      us, in sum,

can’t solve.
                         Love’s cant:

                     Veer for

flingable alibi set:
                                              all in a big life.

caress      scares

revile      relive

a page      agape,

snag      nags

blink to      ink blot

gives a      visage

eyes I’d made.      Seed my idea

in deed,      indeed,

fit end to law:
                              pray      and we flap.
                                                                         I try to

fly as time.
                               Time flays

and falls on us,      and falls on us

to (hint:
                  I dove       into the void)

destroy      (de-story).

I to pen:

                      open it.

From Stet by Dora Malech. Copyright © 2018 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

From Stet by Dora Malech. Copyright © 2018 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

Dora Malech

Dora Malech

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009).

by this poet


In my favorite version, the man recites the alphabet
over and over, and when asked, he says he is praying.
He admits he lacks the words, but says perhaps if he provides
enough letters, God can piece his purpose back together.

The word is kavanah, translates to concentration or



He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them.
—Aristotle, Politics (translated by Benjamin Jowett)


Look out across
the ridges of trees
flushed red
as if holding


A long-gone hand behind this scrap of map
dips the brush into red lead again
and lifts the wet tip up to fly across
an ocean and touch down in the unknown
where it emblazons its best guesses, draws
ornate conclusions in the far shore's sand.

Now, as ever, dawn illuminates