Brian Henry


I suppose I could assent
but feel that holding out
would be better for all
involved in this scene
taking place between two
layers of clouds, fluff
below, wisps above,
the plane cutting through
the gray-blue sky because
that’s what planes do.
They cut through.


My contract begins
and ends when
it should stop
and start, in fits.

The numbers
mean nothing.
It’s the space before
and between
that matters.


I search for a word
and find only pain—

a dull ache sharpened
by this pile of failure.

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently “Permanent State”, and the new prose book “Things Are Completely Simple: Poetry and Translation”. He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s “Woods and Chalices”, Aleš Debeljak’s “Smugglers”, and five books by Aleš Šteger. His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant, and the Best Translated Book Award.