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Sébastien Bernard 

Trying to read a book

Trying to read a book while you’re falling in love, desperately

Trying to read while your hair is being torn, or you are tearing it, or losing

it, or it is rising on its own

The way the monotonous crashing of the sea rises

Up to the monotonous filling-up of the moon—tumescent moon, were-

wolf hour, total eclipse of the marrow—

& at the marathon


Tell him to please cry in a ditch

About her

It’s both their faults or something, who cares?

God I’ve made mistakes

I’ll have answers tomorrow, I swear

For now

I’m just trying to read a goddamn book.

"He will leave you"
I am finished

The glass thrown against a brick wall

In this alley in reverse straightens in filmic

Grace into the flower that says: “he will leave you.”

Fish can't drown in water

That carny has exhausted itself

I’m standing at the window

No longer at the window

The image is discontinuous, the dune, the sea

I’ve lived variously

My veins have opened at certain tunes

And closed at certain faces, their maws

Lovers ate me and spat out certain parts back

That came wrapped in certain parts of themselves

The large intestine runs the world

I had to invent myself

My whole life is beautiful and threatening

It threatens me with itself

And sometimes the devil threatens my family

In my dreams

And I count to a hundred

All the hatred for mine to be

All the resentment

Consolation of the man who wishes

To continue writing like an adolescent

It must have been different then for each of us

We must have known different things

I didn’t want to paint a picture

I thought the words had destroyed each other

In my work

My country is nowhere really

Not here and not on a map

A book or a kiss

I am finished

Sébastien Bernard is a part-French Turkish poet and (non)fiction writer from—and currently based in—Istanbul. He was a Poets House Emerging Poets fellow, and a finalist for the 2019 Black Warrior Review Poetry Contest. His work appears in Michigan Quarterly Review, Prelude, DIAGRAM, SUSAN/The Journal, Black Warrior Review, KGB Bar Lit, Queen Mob's Teahouse, Madness Muse Press, and Nat.Brut (with a Pushcart and Best of the Net nomination, as well as a listing in Entropy’s “Favorite Poems Published Online”). He has called Brooklyn, Istanbul, Poughkeepsie, and Maputo home.

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