(Almost) Every Poet I Have Ever Loved II

In Part I, Jessica Lim discusses the work of five poets who have served as her personal roadmap to poetry. Part II completes her ode to the archive considering the work of four more poets she loves, and one dead guy.

Read Part I of Jessica Lim's poetry archive here, a two-part series in response to ‘Eight Contemporary Poets I Love and Two Dead Guys’ (Parts I and II)

Writing about your favourite poets seems like a great idea. Till you realise you’re referencing an article that:

A. Taught you almost everything you know about poetry. 
B. Already contains all the best poets.
C. Is written by an infinitely better writer than you.

I thought writing this would be like

It was more like coming out of the closet as a poet… only to never be let back in again…

1. Hera Lindsay Bird

So arrest me. I wrote this all about Hera Lindsay Bird. When The Pantograph Punch published ‘Eight Contemporary Poets I Love and Two Dead Guys’, Hera Lindsay Bird hadn’t yet released her self-titled book Hera Lindsay Bird. Overnight, she became almost a darling of poetry. With licence to write poems with titles such as:

I Want To Get High My Whole Life With You


Having Already Walked Out on Everyone I Ever Said I Loved

I am continuously astonished by the influence of her work, which I encounter everywhere from poems published in The Poetry Foundation, to The Paris Review
My favourite was when The Guardian described Hera as an ‘Instapoet'.

But Hera is not a darling of poetry… Hera is a bandit of poetry.

To receive such lavish praise while mocking your own alma mater should be contemporary poetry’s only Nobel Prize…

I think her genius runs deeper than her hilarious pop-culture references and masterful witticisms. Her strength lies in her ability to traverse the beauty and terror inherent to all human existence – tempered delicately with humour as an antidote.

Pyramid Scheme


the other day i was thinking about the term pyramid scheme, and why they called it
pyramid scheme and not triangle scheme
and i asked you what you thought
you thought it added a certain gravitas, and linked the idea of economic prosperity
with some of history’s greatest architectural achievements …
a less striking mental image than the idea of a third dimension of financial fraud
but i had to pause for a second at the financial fraud part
which is how many dimensions of financial fraud the term pyramid scheme
but i had to pause for a second at the financial fraud part
because it occurred to me i didn’t know what pyramid schemes really were
i knew they had something to do with people getting money from nothing
the person at the top of the pyramid scheme, or more accurately
triangle scheme, acquires a number of investors and takes their money
and then pays the first lot of investors with the money from another bunch of
and so on and so forth
which is the kind of stupid thing that happens
if you keep your money in a pyramid and not a bank account
although if you ask me banks are the real pyramid schemes after all
or was love the real pyramid scheme? i can’t remember

maybe it’s better to keep your money in a pyramid than a bank
and i should shop around and compare the interest rates on different pyramids
maybe i should open up a savings pyramid
with a whole bunch of trapdoors and malarias
to keep the financial anthropologists
i mean bankers out
my emeralds cooling under the ground like beautiful women’s eyes
i think this was supposed to be a metaphor for something
but i can’t remember where i was going with it
and now it’s been swept away by the winds of
but knowing me, it was probably love
that great dark blue sex hope that keeps coming true
that cartoon black castle with a single bird flying over it
i don’t know where this poem ends
how far below the sand
but it’s still early evening
and you and I are a little drunk
you answer the phone
you pour me a drink
i know you hate the domestic in poetry but you should have thought of that before
you invited me to move in with you
i used to think arguments were the same as honesty
i used to think screaming was the same as passion
i used to think pain was meaningful
i no longer think pain is meaningful
i never learned anything good from being unhappy
i never learned anything good from being happy either
the way i feel about you has nothing to do with learning
it has nothing to do with anything
but i feel it down in the corners of my sarcophagus
i feel it in my sleep
even when i am not thinking about you
you are still pouring through my blood, like fire through an abandoned hospital ward
these coins are getting heavy on my eyes
it has been a great honor and privilege to love you
it has been a great honor and privilege to eat cold pizza on your steps at dawn
love is so stupid: it’s like punching the sun
and having a million gold coins rain down on you
which you don’t even have to pay tax on
because sun money is free money
and i’m pretty sure there are no laws about that
but i would pay tax
because i believe that hospitals and education
and the arts should be publicly funded
even this poem
when i look at you, my eyes are two identical neighborhood houses on fire
when i look at you my eyes bulge out of my skull like a dog in a cartoon
when i am with you
an enormous silence descends upon me
and i feel like i am sinking into the deepest part of my life
we walk down the street, with the grass blowing back and forth
i have never been so happy

I love Hera’s poetry because it is almost exactly like having a conversation with her.

Or slipping into some complex watercolour landscape with an imaginary friend… who also happens to be a comedian. You go to a silent yoga retreat together… and you suddenly become telepathic, and can hear their thoughts…

Like a blessed version… of Hell.

2.  Lee Posna

Lee Posna is the only poet mentioned in “Eight Poets I Love and Two Deads Guys” who I will repeat. Partly because I fear that if beautiful art is not shared, it may forever be lost.

Now, I freely lend my favourite books to almost anyone.With the exception of Lee Posna’s Arboretum. Lee, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, might have only written one book printed in an undisclosed edition. It was released at a book launch (Wellington, 2016).      

I went alone
Anna Jackson read the passages on behalf (of Lee, present)
Which completely untethered me.

from Arboretum (2016)

Life in a tree is beautiful

I passed my life under a tree

Spent my life thinking about my life

Under that giant ash, dark as the tree of life

Some people’s lives you can see stretched out before them like trees

Who couldn't see what would happen to my sister?

Everyone claps…
I beeline over to the signing table (where Lee sits pensively) to purchase Arboretum, handing 
Lee the last twenty-dollar bill to my name
Before rushing out the door.

Later, reading Arboretum, I thought…

If Anne Carson is Red,
Maggie Nelson, Blue,
Lee Posna is Green.

Though speaking of Lee’s work feels like a sin. I repeat it here only because of its beauty in the hope that it will never be lost…

3. Lisa Jarnot

I loved this poem as soon as I read it – for its casual rhythm and harmonic imperfection. Though I cannot claim definitive knowledge of Lisa Jarnot’s poetry, her poetry remains self-aware beyond the safety of any tradition; in cadence with all perfect sound…

… you are, you, chinchilla, going roadside towards
the cares, the dark arabian chinchilla of the
neutral zone with pears …
all in fur you fur …

I am sure she has a lot to say about the fur trade…
and cold-blooded consumerism, in the marketplace… in France.

Song of the Chinchilla

You chinchilla in the marketplace in France
you international chinchilla, chinchilla of the
plains and mountains all in fur you fur of the
chinchilla of the pont de neuf, selling wrist
watches, on the oldest bridge of evolution that
you are, you, chinchilla, going roadside towards
the cares, the dark arabian chinchilla of the
neutral zone with pears, you still life of
chinchilla, abstractions of chinchilla, aperitif
chinchilla, lowing in the headlands in my mind,
dark, the cliffs of dover, dark chinchilla, tractor
of chinchilla, chili of chinchilla, chill of the
chinchilla, crosswalk of chinchilla of the dawn,
facilitator you, chinchilla, foodstuffs for the
food chain dressed in light.

4. Gustavo Rivera

Gustavo Rivera is one of the most brilliant poets I’ve ever read. A poet and translator editor from Puerto Rico, via New York.

Once, age 20, I ran away from New York after being bitten by bed bugs, which swelled all over my body in huge welts. After sitting in the laundromat drying all my soft possessions on high heat, I caught a bus to Philadelphia. I checked into a hostel and, later, I went to see live music at a derelict artists’ space in West Philly.The space was dank, filled with self-published writing. It was here I first encountered Gustavo’s poetry. Which inaugurated my own entry into self-publishing, and my love of poetry itself.

from The Spring is Back in Town (2014)

A long poof across the sky, I am following the moon
I had a dream where people from my past kept asking me
what I had been up to, and my consistently cold response was
“I work everyday, it sucks,” without even looking up at them
My last day off was about a month ago, this is class war 
which side are you on? Fuck your theory, fuck your school
I’m going crazy because I can’t stop thinking about you
you seem perfect, but nothing is, and I will lose
I brought you into presence with my mind-thought
I’m so tired, that’s why I think I love you, I’ve already seen my death
my future goals include being canonized as a hood saint
you don’t say no to love even if you don’t understand it
having to work is never a good excuse not to drink, yeah
fuck yeah, I’m warning you, I’ll stick a knife right into you
I’m too drunk to be alive right now, meteor, please hit here.

BONUS ROUND #1: The Real World

Did I write this all down just to say what I wanted to say all along…
I think my favourite poetry is almost always composed of the real world – its sounds as slight as tree breath, or the echo of footsteps around you before looking up at any painting by Caravaggio for the first time.

And I read so much poetry by ‘real poets’ that only hits half the time and all my favourite poems are nearly always just things people say to me in fleeting moments. If I could write them all down…

Gustavo Rivera (Again)

Gustavo is certainly one of my favourite contemporary poets. For his contribution to both contemporary literature and unapologetic documentation of social and material reality.

His poetry captures everyday life, through its soundscapes and numerous perspectives, all unravelling as small moments of beauty.

The influence of history on my genes in relation to the undeniable fact that time erodes

Transcendence stems from being rooted. My body has been harvesting this tumour for centuries, poor kids isolated from everyone the most amount of destruction the world is more peaceful according to the numbers. This is the country I have abandoned. The mark of war, the length of them, the fear of displacement. The multiverse and all that is vague and expansive Shit looks so sad when you look back.


Forecasting / and Again was a durational performance by the artist Jo Bragg, shown at The Performance Arcade, a public art event held on a boardwalk on Wellington Harbour. Bragg lay on the bonnet of a car that was parked on top of a shipping container; inside the container a video played, in which the artist again lay on the bonnet of the car, now driven in circles by an ex-lover
endlessly on repeat.


And again, the sun rose on the next day
When your back is turned, the day does not turn away, always the same
Love is absolution, persecution, ejaculation, always the same…

If I could circle back to the beginning
I would begin with an ending. That ending, a question:

Could it be that this exquisite world we all share was the real poetry all along?

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