Two Poems

by Ryo Yamaguchi


With the rhythm breaking cleanly over us;
you stepping so well
through the decision, blocking out
quarter-lengths in the swiftly rearranging seconds
crisscrossing the sidewalk. Your heart
is full of blood; we see a movie and a forest
grows though it. The evening is flat in areas
and elsewhere brindled with slippages,
and I believe what you say when you say it,
putting your body through one deliberate motion,
the air plentiful, and we watch
for the minutes as the universe falls
into its assortment of jobs. There is a matter, you think,
that must be what all this weight is for,
a relative equivalent of your architectural sleep,
and I think this, too, with brightness, along
the uneven blocks of the neighborhood, that
a plot could be cajoled out of management,
the sun coming up warm over the necessary and
the stranger standing there looking at us.


We live through a compression of nights
like the underbelly of an airplane

lit bald as it slows toward the dark earth.
The rescue is merely finishing

the work, emptying out the lists
and being moved. We walk down

to the street and say yes;
we say it twice, drawing a line

around ourselves with our breath.
The sensation of falling. Through

our eyelids a dissipating blue.
The force of line. An ontic guttural,

standing contestant sprung
into the hot edge of the immediate

where the promise is lit, our new
mathematics, our new sleep.

Ryo Yamaguchi is the author of The Refusal of Suitors, published by Noemi Press. His poetry has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, Tin House, and The Journal, among others. He also regularly reviews books for outlets such as NewPages and Michigan Quarterly Review. He lives in Chicago where he works at the University of Chicago Press. You can visit him at