Two Poems


by Jordan Cutler-Tietjen


Past security
I fumble with what I own
Which was so comfortable in the buckets
Who cycle belonging and belonging
Through a black box.
So that I can string my belt around myself
I clutch my passport between my teeth.

Passage is passé, access is rarely carnal
In my life. You can read this
In my plaque portrait, how tasty
And brutal this blue book is.
How rude when stamps become food
For my movement and I don’t eat them.

The passport is most like a knife
I feel that is a villain
Like myself. So as a cannibal
I am in A
then B always
I am a black box of belongings.
Everywhere I’ve been
Is in my mouth
For some time.
I swallow, I should die.
I swallow, I stay how I am where I am.



There are two directions to look: up and out.
The arced impressions of scales
teaching water where to drip,
warm weather dynamic stalactites
reminding me to think vertically.

Recently I’ve been imagining all my ancestors
as a column of glass extending forever upwards
from my head wherever I go. It’s emotional.

He may have stood right here: so inspired
by the outline of the opening onto the Atlantic
he forced the Pangae landmass apart to realize
the shape of Africa in its image. He went on to
fight Atlas, escape servitude to the sky.

I feel a responsibility to the column. I owe it
so much. I worry that it is a conflation of lives
but it is so beautiful above me. Not heavy
but present and listening, conducting heat.

Amazigh Berbers carved out arcs from the ceiling
because they were making wheels. The rock
a record of their motion. Dynamic it too is dripping
as we bustle in and out of it and feel like we’re
discovering something. So much might be above, around us.

23&Me said I share my maternal haplogroup with Berbers:
I don’t know what U5b1b1 means but I can imagine
that code drifting up my column in turbulent air.
I watch it lift up from my hair lying on my back
and float past lives ever closer to the the wheel-arcs.

Hercules is a half-circle. A shape is just that.
The code hits the stone, softens, drips onto my face.


Jordan Cutler-Tietjen is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at