Jen Hofer, conditions (cypress park 90065)

cypress park 90065

what depth of channelized gape gnawing open beneath a surface skidded with dents what skim across a wet wingless space between federally demarcated boundaries what sky is nothingness filled with what things lifting against gravity’s unsmooth magnetism what motor slices the dry sky open what utter what empty what hungry—who is practiced at feeding and who is practiced at withholding—what mask worn so well it was almost a face what immobile windblown stopped-in-our-tracks love for which no one had any use at the far end of the sight name casing or barrel at the far end of the face what face what future what light faded shut what same sky—rising grey dome lidding down over a city built on the backs of what inhuman importation unseen under the same sky what unheard consequences or accidents of birth as a consequence of being unable to pronounce each of the six hundred and ninety-four names visibly erased—what having fallen toward what unheard calling out—pummeling hollow train motor fist—boring into an air no longer shared no longer nuzzled what boundary what emissary between can and can’t in a broken world made more broken by blossoming explosions of skeletal fervent wishing for a different language—not a dialect not a narrative not an ownership not pertaining not appendage not muscle but an apprenticeship a flocking a spin a meshing or nesting of gears



cypress park 90065

what is alone and what is alongside—what building structure harbors emptiness beyond the violet bruising of languageless blow totally alone or never alone what impact what whistling what unheard air suspended—what suspends and what refuses to be held or removed what yanked invisibly between lines of text never to be heard from again in any language blown out blown apart blowing through unmatched openness—what language beyond language the shape of a body held in the air retinally until it dissolves into the normalized bright blue view we’ve been told to expect—what piercing noise cellophaning a skin of criminality over the body of a child who is seventeen fourteen thirteen twelve—what perfect body disintegrating in our hands—what expectation traced peripherally backdropped razorwired shimmered blacktopped disappeared windblown—what wind blown out of it by what blow—what shape drawn on the asphalt to indicate the presence of a body whose absence was counted only as the dissipation of a person we were never invited to recognize in any way other than through words—our world full of words that killed—what recognition beyond words what not spoken what unspeaking what not seen left alone in what presence calling you what empty body channeling nothing what color risen up into the sky—through what sky—what refusal to be named airless refusal to become a vessel for this refusal to say you



cypress park 90065

what we we could not not belong to knotting a circle to keep us or keep us out what keeps without being held what wind whisking eucalyptus into sharp anticipatory swirls what body or group of bodies clustered to maximize profit what swarm what whisk what swirl what shatter—districts of sinew districts of solvents—what knotted simmering noise disrupted calm in the news cycle circling overhead—what is swept under the whisper of what is not said—what noise what sound what body what offer what ember what with and against—personhood held close curtailed—what taut cannot be unknotted what unprotected body unclothed knowledge scattered dirt what struggle not to be protected not to let go twenty thousand six hundred and fifty-one children minus one what unbroken what unparallel what uninked into impermanent status tethered to a statistic what hand going right through the body which wasn’t there what space where something else is not—even infrastructure is a negation—what absent body disappears amid axles smokestacks cell towers winches walls tarps mattresses under the overpass—what arm reaching out toward—what arm nearly unhinging from the body in attempt to reach—what hollow what hollow whistling noise noiseless arcing gesture unfolding toward a body become de-outlined iridescent glitteringly pressed into the asphalt swallowed by the heat what embedded unraveling gesture opening now cemented shut what turning the other way into what else

Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, urban cyclist, and co-founder of the language justice and language experimentation collaborative Antena and the local language justice advocacy collective Antena Los Ángeles. She publishes poems, translations, and visual-textual works with numerous small presses, including Action Books, Atelos, belladonna, Counterpath Press, Kenning Editions, Litmus Press, LRL Textile Editions, NewLights Press, Ugly Duckling Presse, Writ Large Press, and in various DIY/DIT incarnations. Jen’s online publications include poems at PEN America, a quilted poem and newspaper poems at Alligatorzine, translations of poems by Virginia Lucas and prose by Cristina Rivera Garza, and collaborative essays with Dolores Dorantes on the Harriet blog, with Sesshu Foster in The Capilano Review, and with John Pluecker on Jacket2 and The Volta. She teaches poetics, translation and multilingual writing, and DIY/DIT bookmaking and also does cross-language work supporting community groups in creating effective bilingual and multilingual spaces.

This text is part of TOWARD, a Smarginature commission.


  1. Pingback: Toward, by Ashaki M. Jackson, Bhanu Kapil, Jen Hofer, Mg Roberts | Writing Sound Bergen

  2. Pingback: Smarginature | Writing Sound Bergen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: