The New Inexpressible

By PHILIP NIKOLAYEV

1

the inexpressible isn’t that which cannot
be expressed but that which will fall
expressed upon deaf eardrums meet with
sightless eyes centerfolded even
or on the front cover it will escape notice
and upon the face itself remain undetected
because mere expression isn’t all it takes
to be detected to be reasonably considered
expressed to others brothers sisters cousins
or indeed a disinterested passerby
hiding all in plain sight and only the fool thinks
no wait the fool does not even think that
no mystery is gone missing from his equation
a haze of sadness covering what is truly true

2

The if-clause and the when-clause and the which-:
I’m lost in their switchbacks and crossing loops,
a transit train hurtling toward a ditch
past all commercial ventures and co-ops.
In this swift life, there’s no time to compute
the likely outcomes, lay no claim to that.
Suck it up and commute, commute, commute.
Communicate no note that you cannot.
Language is tiresome, ultimately, as such;
even more so are its alleged limits. Wish
for no abodes of words. In flocks they swish
in multitudes away, and no research
will ever reconstruct the radiant soul
out of the linear windings of the scroll.

 

Philip Nikolayev is a poet, literary scholar, and translator from several languages. His collections include Monkey Time (winner of the Verse Prize) and Letters from Aldenderry. New volumes are forthcoming from MadHat in the US and from Poetrywala and Copper Coin in India. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is coeditor-in-chief of Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics.

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The New Inexpressible

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Most-Read Pieces of 2021

As 2021 comes to an end, we want to celebrate the pieces our readers loved! Below, you can browse our list of 2021’s most-read pieces to see the writing that left an impact on our readers.