Near, At

Jennifer Soong's Near, At follows the inherent strangeness of one’s consciousness as it observes and comes into contact with the physical world. A sustained exploration of language, capitalism, gender, and nature, Near, At traverses and measures the movement of silence against the movement of thought and its pauses. Divided into five parts, each with its own form, and followed by a series of ongoing love poems called MY CHRISTOPHER POEMS, this debut collection is slow to assume but quick to adjust. Rooted in both the traditional and the experimental, it asks just how little of ourselves we can be.


The city is the loneliest place

and unable to sleep

A beautiful clock with an equally gorgeous laugh
          it draws from the shy bowels of yarn
          whatever can’t go back

Then tell some story
Like the one where you’re from

who you are being
or thinking of at least

unable to sleep for the third night in a row
it’s you

which reminds me

how little difference there is
between the city and the love for it

Someone will say it’s Wednesday
But only technically
The sun has yet to rise

As for you
tossing in the dark
in my mind

you, stay,
keep me here
tell me how it went

our life for the billionth time

Minor Cantation

Akin to the significant “but,”
perceptible only
to thin shafts of mind

the rain fills in
in between space

The in between in between
space fills      out

what’s rest

Near, At

This is one way of structure. To consume what’s least desired first. A pepper’s in the hummus. An eye’s in the preference. Then crossing over, as it does, to choice. Your fingers pry open thick pages of Marx. Between teeth your pen-cap lodged. Preference betrays itself, is not enough. For a while the purple tip merely hovers, indicates continuous negotiation. Between horizons the sun decompresses. To discover the most various type of love, take a circle and stretch it till it bells fat like an oval. To practice the true length of difficulty, of coming back by way of the foreshortened, move along not one, but a nation of souls.

This is one way of structure. To impart auricular grace. Where you are music should be played. Instead, furniture inherently mismatches. But light retains in the flying insect screen. Thin wires approximate the planar situation as you recede, the situation catching the fearless tremble, inaudible music like a pre-cry. Then there breaks down. The brick turning soft. What is a point. “Why” is departure. Life’s too important, you think, to be more-or-less. When you hear it, the motley of textures leaves goose-bumps blinking like a cable-box across your thigh.

This is one way of structure. Start backwards by counting past zero till you’re collecting more than gifts. So the thought doesn’t count and what does is something more real. The weather occasionally means itself, acquires in houses from the basement till rain is no longer XY from which even the poets can possibly grid, extract anything. An overtaking by content so that when we walk out, “it” has turned to hail and “it” is whacking us in every direction, hurting, saying what do you deny what can you possibly say does not belong, is intrinsic to your tomorrow, your life.

It’s your life you think. But the cars slowly pass, and this too is one way of structure. A body in front divides and stitches doubt to a future impact. And what of your hesitation. Life, contrary to the extremes, road-blocked intermittently by certificated starts and ends, has fourth and fifth sounds. Has infinite and no versions. Do you think the wrens are frightened when you step into the yard? And when you feel “it’s” slipping off you, being taken from you because you weren't looking and went down the detour to defrost the cutlets, raise America, wake each night in a body whose arrival you’re sick of but can’t coerce your lover, your self, do you think then you are any less, any more alive? Resonation in air, my God, most sumptuous, defenseless, collective.


Saturday rain, and the trapped vapor clings
to the roof of your coffee lid. Outside
the burning of your cigarette foats back
to smoke your face cold. It fails to transcend
the portrait of your carelessness,
your young, bookish loss. In the barred trash
an umbrella sits shot, stubbed like a first-world dracaena.
Your Newport specter dances in his underwear, rummages through
your Barbour coat. Water slips
from the lonely wax, the exterior claiming futility
as nonchalance. The thoughts, your triumphs
merely hover, tortoise-shelled—and how you’ve failed again
to shed your need for love. Robbed by and from oneself,
the faculties are as embedded forgetfulness were,
a shadow you see but cannot lift to confirm.