Poetry: i, ii, iii, iv, v by Jos Charles

These five beautiful little poems by Jos Charles prove the power of brevity. The succinct linework introduces delicate imagery with a voice that is distant, yet intimate, bare, yet bursting with bodies. Charles knows how to leverage space and silence in a poem, how to carve the reader’s eye and gift it back to them on a silver platter.



How these workless days became
a fit +Foam

the corner of my mouth
on a floor

Partita Thursday+ My heart

as big as it is +Over
a toilette

forgetting that +Bachmann

you love +Oh
Let’s swap our shirts

Let us hold a coconut
It is dusk


Flags asked
out +Pride winds from the terrace

interview at six
interview at eight

a woman waiting unholds
your form

a man’s
bathroom I’m always in

empty summer
homes by the sea


To speak
is to speak of structures

A language
only capable of itself

It’s true the outside a kind
of organ +The world

a body +Your eye

on a platter
of silver and laurel +The city

around us fallen

The same news
daily +Great Troy has fallen


I wanted
to believe a corner a print leaned

to a corner can save
a people +The revolution to each

stagnancy +My romancing
and the condo on the block

seeming only
to place the enormous

limit of its form
There are questions

within the body
you forget +Breaks

holding breaks in
the wall


It is falling
ash in Santa Ana

Falling in
your year +November

Needing Chagall’s
Christ irrecoverably

in the evening

holding hands our
selves into

the evening we
wept a quiet

English +The day
contained it



Jos Charles

Jos Charles is a trans poet, writer, and intertextual artist whose debut collection, Safe Space (Ahsahta Press, 2016). They are the founding-editor of THEM, the first trans literary journal in the US, and engage in direct gender justice work with a variety of organizations and performers. Charles received their MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson where they now reside. In 2016, Charles was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

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