Paula Cisewski

Personal Universe: Summer


Season in which I learn the whole world must be some forgiveness disco        I’m done

warming up             but being subjected to anybody’s gaze

disorganizes my features         my wonder          my wounds

when anybody               stops looking at me I will            put my face back

wounder around            knowing

how it feels to be                  a glamorous splat plus a little bit 

the sweetest                crossing guard just wanting

to feel trusted with her orange flag             oh

strip my safety vest        I am just one yes in this overmuch world


Personal Universe: Winter


season in which preparing to leave feels better than leaving, though a sweet ride

stands prepped to haul me forward. Look at it gleam: my gold-leaf goal god

my road forward my neatly packed leaking.  One fleeing charioteer

versus even one minor pothole will equal broken-down

motion plus popped hasp plus not

progress but stalled blur.

oh hello my mess my mess

how it tumbles out dressing

the road I will follow

back to a trippy,

retrograde home. Studying

to leave means readying to stay.


Personal Universe: Fall


season in which mary says my new haircut is witchy and fuck yeah

it’s darker earlier darker earlier every day good morning

glitter ice cream horror movie marathon conjuring inner space

the men in power holler and cry he’s the nicest person/rapist

in my annual review, the big boss wrote many corrective notes

not about a real job just general how I do on the planet

where he signed his name: the letters little animals scurrying off

I always knew I would never last in this position good morning

ready for another means of travel a truth conjured carried on  

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Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, Quitter, won the Diode Editions Book Prize. She is also the author of The Threatened Everything (Burnside Review Books), Ghost Fargo (Nightboat Poetry Prize winner, selected by Franz Wright), Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and several chapbooks, including the lyric prose Misplaced Sinister. She lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches, collaborates with fellow artists and activists, and serves on the editorial staff of Conduit.