Weekly Feature: Poetry at The Arts Fuse

Welcome to “Poetry at The Arts Fuse.” A new poem every Thursday.


Sister Fade


& even now it is  & is not  as it was thought to be  only it is what it is  is what it always is an ideal for the living to keep  to keep keeping on  it is implored  it is praised  it is as chant as spell as savior  it as self  as self & others  as selfless & in service of others  of others it is for  the existence of

& yet  on this final of finals  it has remained same  same day as day before  even if sickness spreading  even in the spreading  of sickness  still dishes washed  coffee made coffee consumed  intellectual lingering after the act  to stall a little longer  a little stall of day  nothing alas deceit  as day continues  the minutes the seconds  the piano keys in successions minor  & major melodies with no care  not a care for this day  as any day  still there is wife  wife is still  at her desk  fingers hovering  about computer keys forthcoming daughter humming  in a warm sac  these memories  the necessity of memories  for the living  to keep living  these memories cannot  will not  do not matter for it is here  & it will  take away  any need  for there will be  no life  no need for it  & yet—

thought of  this ache  this connectedness  this community  to know it  is meaningless or given meaning  only to make  oneself feel  more safe to make  oneself feel  more of it  yet it doesn’t need any of it  no to know the world  is no better  in my departure  than it was for my arrival  no to know that grandiose change  only means meaning  to the select few desiring the meaning  & yet  my ambition  wanted more  wanted to believe  like when sister died  family somehow would be  bonded by it  family would somehow  be transformed by it  & yet—

there it was  [death] resting so gently  inside sister  & yet there it was  [death] raging so perverse  inside each of us  not a  connected breathing unit  only individuals  with individual suffering  each suspicious  of the other  each summoning it  to do  our bidding  to do  our judging  to manifest our blues  to punctuate wailing  & yet nothing transformed  just as the world  has not transformed  still each individual  the [death] it did it  the [death] it  did change  each individual  & those where it  already existed  it maybe grew a bit stronger  but those outside of the it  that already existed  it didn’t happen  no to know  no new [love] spread  to know no new [love] burst  no new [love] bloom  to know one only coveted  & protected  what little [love]  already existed  & what will daughter call it never seeing the flesh of departed father  & what did father  call it seeing the departed death of daughter  & what do I  call it now  an age older than older sister departed  another [death] in an endless series of—

& yet memories  even in the face of it  sustains a bit longer  delays days a bit longer musics the melancholy a bit longer a bit longer to remain in the midst of the rise & swells sand in & sand out above a mass of stars somewhere two blackholes swallowing each other to have time time enough to find you everywhere & in everything—


Steven Karl is the author of two poetry collections, Dork Swagger (Coconut Books, 2013) and Sister (Noemi Press, 2016). His third collection, I HRT the Cult Years: Empty Empire of Aftersong (VA Press) is forthcoming in 2024. He is the author of several chapbooks including If Your Lungs Are Skyed Make the Scar Song Echo Until All The Winged Things Bleed Your Poetry (Bloof Books, 2023). Originally from Philadelphia he divides his time between Boston and Tokyo and teaches at FIU.

Note: Hey poets! We seek submissions of excellent poetry from across the length and breadth of contemporary poetics. See submission guidelines here. The arbiter of the feature is the magazine’s poetry editor, John Mulrooney.

Arts Fuse editor Bill Marx

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