poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

Gowri Koneswaran



your poem started it
your poem’s been talking shit
but your poem has another thing coming so your poem better take a minute and step back
better find a trashcan to hide inside
because one of these things is
not as good as the others
and, guess what,
it's him

your poem is bad.
how bad?
your poem is the
history of colonialism,
ethnic warfare, wars of terror,
weapons of mass annihilation,
psychological tyranny
your poem funnels drugs and guns
into poor communities
your poem factory farms animals like
they're meat, egg, and milk machines

and, on a personal level,
your poem is a punk! your poem didn't call me back last night
your poem keeps asking my friends out
your poem rarely treats
and, when he does,
insists on carryout
your poem rocks attitude like
he's great in bed and fooled a few of us
learning the truth first-hand instead
in other words, it's all your poem's fault

your poem stole my brother's lunch money
your poem thinks stereotypes are funny
your poem failed gym class
yet calls himself a jock

your poem bullies the queer boys
even though daddy’s got a drawer
full of gay porn and toys
your poem calls people of color “foreigners”
while we’re doing more for this country
than he ever will

your poem watches too much t.v.
your poem doesn't like poetry
your poem doesn't believe in equality
your poem doesn't accept that
humans are causing climate change
and plenty of other catastrophes
your poem is ignorant

and your poem doesn't understand that
we have the right to remain silent
but when we see injustice all around us
our silence is an endorsement
your poem is just watching out for himself
your poem is playing it safe but sorry

so your poem should stop
opening his mouth if he's
not going to use that voice

your poem needs to speak up and
say something



1. Love like this

To be chased by you
Unchaste with you, displaced in
You I long for still

2. Grounded

Railroad tracks stand still
So trains can fulfill their fate.
We search for our tracks.

3. Lyrics

Some songs are too short.
In music and in romance
We forget the words.

Someone Thinks

Ellyn Weiss
Someone thinks you are wonderfully mysterious
2007,oilbar, 36" x 36"
see more work by Ellyn Weiss


we’re drinking blue booze at four on a sunday afternoon
i’m craving one man but telling myself
i want another
the d.c. heat is imposing himself
pinning his breath and sweat to my skin

what is happening...

weekenders are turning around and coming back to town
a boy blows smoke on the sidewalk and smells of ashes
men in buttoned-up shirts are idling nearby and
i wonder what their lives are made of

what is happening?

the summer heat is a singer
moaning for love lost and
i'm grateful that at least
he knows how to make music out of it

what is happening

sunlight is flooding down on us and
the best we can think to do is squint


her ink is wrapped around
your limbs like
tattoos of who is
written into you

stains stuck to the page
then transferred to your skin stanzas scattered
across the floor
lines divided

creating sounds no linguist
has ever heard
your screams will be
songs with no shape

let her taste you solid
as a consonant let her make you soft
as a vowel

with your mouth wide open
swallow every syllable

drip like coffee
when the morning's long
the writing won't stop

spill a little then soak
until you are two pages
pressed together

pin her by the corners and
recline between her lines

when she moans it will sound like
"you're my title now"



Gowri Koneswaran is a poet, singer, and lawyer whose parents immigrated to the US from Sri Lanka. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, the environment, and the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused. She was a Lannan Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library and a member of the 2010 DC Southern Fried Slam team, and has performed at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Her poetry has appeared in Bourgeon, and Lantern Review. Koneswaran serves as the program director at BloomBars community arts space.


Published in Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2011.


To read more by this author:
Gowri Koneswaran: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue