Book cover for The L's by Judy Annear

Judy Annear
The L's

Response by Craig Foltz

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The Alphabet Is Not Designed for Reading

The As

the writer does not write
the words that are there
or the words that are not

there is an “A” in this sentence
powdery mountain, sea riffled
caught somewhat in between

The Bs

i was born in the ocean
before vacuum packaging
was commonplace
i was born with wings
knowing how to speak

without writing
interlopers, beware of those
raised on oat bran & atari
teenage riot living outside
any non-binding agreements

The Cs

the C is not correct
the writer cannot
connect a forest
or obscure the simulation
a junction between two books
that do not exist

The Ds

likely you have heard this story before
in it two people who are familiar
to you and to themselves
describe a world in which violence
recalls a variant
without solar or disco or sugar
tongs in place of fingers arms without us

The Es

i cannot help it
if language resists

The Fs

the writer cannot anticipate
shifts in writing
an F is a faint descendent

the writer cannot just invent
a word — a tongue
lashing this bracket to access

modes do not behave
like homophones
some sluggish Leviathan

rising up from the tongue
a word intended
for specific weather conditions

The Gs

water without liquid in case of symbiosis blink & leave prosthetics behind the arms no brackets no external bracings or water writing underwater dreaming communally extinct & structured economically to facilitate water.

The Hs

two syllables for Rae

The Is

the mouth forms a prepared space
the river indicates a vague collective
your tube of flavoured candies
your use of fossil fuels
something felt but not directly seen
an origin story is elastic & contravenes itself
the writer can’t help
pause in the middle

The Js

the statue proclaims
you are all my children
proving the theory
there is no distinction between
sea urchins & sea urchins

The Ks

you have everything
so of course you are dissatisfied
this is what happens when
lifeforms deliberately talk to the camera

The Ls

there are various modules that you are unfamiliar with
some of which can be withdrawn
others that are inscribed
in shadows & shadows
of shadows

The Ms

mung beans
my shredded ribbon

The Ns

the Ns have a way of brutalism
a sour taste this summit of earth
a northerly bearing
your arms are nonbinding
but familiar with what isn’t there
what hasn’t been written
in the valley
what hasn’t been shown
to all participants
what hasn’t been shared
among fascists & other nonbinding agreements
what hasn’t been imagined
will fill this space

The Os

dear O,
i sense you are resistant
to being labelled
your name consists
of sinister sounds
i have it all wrong
but you know who we’re talking about
all hollowed out from apology
we are not the type
who worry about setting off alarms
in the middle of the night

The Ps

i have been asked
to provide interactive pets
not fish or plants
or images of images
of images a tonight
mythologised & shredded to ribbons
the writer does not have arms
or buttered, the cats
do not behave as anticipated
this version of events is all boy
i was watching HBO in the basement
it was not something that happened
or something that didn’t

The Qs
the first sentence was not the first
sentence to be critical
a pathology reveals
how invented we’ve become
The Rs

the R is nothing less
than divine particles

irresistibly drawn towards
one another so fumbled (i’m trying)

to recall the words
you wrote or the ones you didn’t

some contribution beyond their world
another thing we’ve invented

The Ss

my favourite poems are
the ones that Carla
meant to write Lyn
meant to write on the inside
of their arms

The Ts

dear T, i think i love the way i think
i love the way you think
sometime when you aren’t looking let’s pretend
we’re surfing the waves like a hawk
not in the abstract
not the alphabet
a wave of syllables
descendants from a tongue
we will not label

The Us

what i meant to write
the ocean between
you & me

these are the men & women
car parts are not statues
taken down

with nature
there is very little to distinguish
between them

The Vs

this technical discussion precedes
cutlery & data
i will not write something
structurally rigid
without prompting

The Ws

what we thought we didn’t
know so well was actually
the thing we knew
dandelion shadows

the prosthetics of a mountain
sea powders & modes of pleasure
these are the words
we didn’t write

The Xs
start then by becoming
more energy efficient
microgreens take
to familiar soils
before releasing
The Ys

whatever we imagine ourselves to be
changes as we approach the river
inserting a pastoral image is as easy
as pretending the moon doesn’t exist
i have it on authority that your
poems are pollen spores
dispersed in the wind
when was the last time
our mythologies crossed paths
i’ve always said collaboration is not an infusion
of unexpected colour is not about absolving
ourselves of personhood
oh, to happen to be together where we happen to be!
if we’ve never been granted special permissions
you can wake me up if you want to
this is the tonight they wondered about
in songs
did i mention the alarm
did i adequately capture this release

The Zs

the writing itself doesn’t
create forests or words
about the forest a tree a room
a word about the forest before we go

the writing demonstrates a system
by which humans cannot distinguish
themselves from other humans
our bodies were not just syllables



Craig Foltz (US/NZ) is a writer & visual artist whose work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies & galleries. His collection of poetry LOCALS ONLY was published by Compound Press in 2020, and he has previously released two books on Ugly Duckling Presse. He currently lives & works in New Plymouth, pinched between the wild & remote west coast & Mt Taranaki.