In her poems, Kaitlin Rees often performs relationships with enough distance to observe and watch herself, observe and watch the world, while also watching poetry. Kaitlin questions the (im)mobility of language, putting herself in various encounters within different lands of languages, while moving vaguely between inner and outer spaces, here and there, motherland and foreign country, the world and the self, the abstract and the concrete, the attached and the detached, the depth and the surface, and so on. And still seeming to wonder at the (un)necessity of reaching depth: where can we find it? Or hasn't the surface depth itself?
I imagine Kaitlis is, in her way, exploring other selves in new contexts, and maybe a fresh inner field of her soul is to be sooner or later plowed.
Each time my body touches the body of a stranger, I suddenly become a stranger to myself, sometimes as if there’s a fresh rising love, and a story that wants to be told. But always, in love, the lover with the opened heart has to face her vulnerability, many times, and maybe the heart will never be peaceful again.
I wish I could hear more secret, more different, more intimate voices in Kaitlin’s poems. It would be closer to her, and to me as a reader if there was the chance to close our eyes and touch and feel and listen to each other’s voices. The sound of the writer would echo the sound of the reader and vice versa.
Writing, does it come from the outside in or from the inside world pushing out? I don’t think binary words can comfort me anymore. I do not know where my writing will lead me and for what… To connect the self to the world or just connect the self to another self? Anyway, if I cannot avoid myself and poetry, I cannot help bearing my vulnerable heart.
- Nhã Thuyên
I love you all the strangers
written on the expanse of land under the Long Bien Bridge
"If you say 'I love you' then you have already fallen in love with language which is itself a form of infidelity"
How often it is I’ll fall in love with a man who hangs his coat on a tree and sits down to ask my age and which country and speak without being understood.
On a piece of earth that I would call an island and you would call a vast space of nothing language doesn’t always see the same as water the water around us is unclean but maybe that’s just me.
Over an ocean through a city under a bridge down a river even a language one million miles wide cannot reach its fingers greasy and fried but here beside the banana trees it’s scratching its balls in front of me but maybe that’s just you.
I know little about how love works but my mother told me not to marry anyone who couldn’t cook. In our marriage what we would trade is one happiness meal for one glorious morning to hush the boredom in our bones you would be nude and doing a headstand and I would be watching a single drop of sweat.
I’ve stopped trying to be good. Now there is just listening to talking and talking and secret thinking. The first language of the body probably had fewer rules but how could we know what our ancestors felt about sex.
If only attraction were as easy to trace as this line drawn in the sand at a right angle to another and another and another to make a box, that’s where God was watching you said, I guess, and the rest of the story I could not catch. Yes, I said.
I feel close to packing away in cardboard all the things I thought would happen and then a small dirty apple appears between a finger and a thumb in front of my face. Yes, I say again.
Maybe with more confidence in the kitchen, I’d feel less like a predator on this island. I’d be the shy one. I wouldn’t talk to so many strangers with that hungry look in our eyes.
You are not any of your panicked thoughts
You are not any of your panicked thoughts you are not anything a vibrating idea you are waiting to be moved and do not come until called.
You may contain panicked thoughts but they are not you they are floating inside you but they are not you are a serenely pale yellow or an anger of orange you are swirl you are fizz a concept of hopping you are bounce without a body.
Stop, reverse, stop, right turn, search, search, you, yes, stay still I will meet you.
I have no hope in my heart without you I am a leg in the shower and the blade running up over it the slip of blood I am the small hairs trimmed around the pussy I am dancing with men who do not love me I am my painted boy nails and see through clothes I have become the picture of my x rayed hips.
But not one of these is you. You a color you a feeling you breathe the fresh field of air through my lungs, the surging is only a pulse, one that fills and empties the heart.
Fills and empties, fills and empties.
Uncorrected earth where Ah, the fish in this
everyone holds hands or fake lake, the way they fold
everyone is about to kiss this themselves like a blanket
cement lined lake under the skin of black water,
even smells like an ocean the way they wait like bells,
the halos of street lights bless still and unnoticed,
us beneath them even my anger then leap all at once
has a warm glow like rain falling up.
in this featureless park Ah, fat fingers of a boy
miracles materialize in trees nails outlined in dirt
more easily your face dangling a cigarette,
could be anyone's of memory a surface where flicked
in the many deaths of clarity ashes float, the faintness
in this world without detail of those shapes
gracious and obscure. violent to the eyes.