Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer Poetry Pop-Up: Nancy Naomi Carlson


A coded language emerged from a morpheme sea:
Hyperplasia, exemestane, nuclear grade.
Charmed times are not evoked in threes.

Three weeks between infusions, reprised
In frayed dreams of the needle’s wake.
A broken language emerges. A lymph sea

Reels with vertigo. Red blood cells retreat.
I am bald and moon-faced.
Where’s the harm in threes,

Cytoxen whispers, corroding nails as it seethes
Drip by drip in recalcitrant veins.
A muted language merges with closed seas

Of blood so pale, a slight shift of disease
Could set off a swell so untamed
That evoking three times three times three

Charms may not be enough to save me. 
My body knows how it will end but remains—
With or without charmed times evoked in threes—
A veiled language merging with closed seas.
                                                            --Nancy Naomi Carlson

(First published by The Georgia Review)

Nancy Naomi Carlson, poet, translator, editor, and essayist, has authored eight titles (5 translated). She received a grant from the NEA to translate Abdourahman A. Waberi’s first collection of poems, which was a “Best Translated Book Award” finalist for 2016, and her translation of Char’s Hammer with No Master was a finalist for the 2017 CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award. Recipient of grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, as well as the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, her work has appeared in such journals as the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Georgia Review, and Poetry. “Infusion: Round III” comes from Infusion of Violets, forthcoming from Seagull Books in spring 2019. Her co-translation of The Dancing Other, a novel by Suzanne Dracius, from Martinique, is due out from Seagull Books this summer. For more information, please visit

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