Noelle Kocot: Walking by Hope Street

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Noelle Kocot was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. from the University of Florida, and was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2001. Her first collection of poems, 4, won the Four Way Books Levis Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, New American Writing, Lungfull, Fence, and Iowa Review, and the Best American Poetry 2001.


Walking by Hope Street

You open your hand, the sky darkens with verbiage.  You open your throat, the wound becomes ensouled.

Look at the landscape,
A lot of damage, no?
But we are here together,
And of needing me, here
The world needs me,
We are too alone.
And what of our orange daylight,
Growing darker as the lamplit
Trees grow dark. There
Is not enough to say.
But our hands, our gentle
Frozen hands sift through
Things like numbers out of breath.
It will all be okay, I promise.
Promise who? Promise the faded land.


“Poem for the End of Time”—evokes Noelle Kocot's husband’s passing, the attacks of 9/11, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and a local-as-global apocalyptic mood—is the kind of vatic, incantatory, Ginsberg-indebted poem that doesn’t get written much these days, at least not by younger poets, and certainly not in an almost entirely unironic vein:


Poem for the End of Time (an excerpt)

My neighborhood   my neighborhood   my neighborhood
Up in flames my neighborhood
There were jars turning black in my neighborhood
I saw smoke rising from them in my neighborhood
I was not stupid, my eyes were not blind
But Y o Y did I look back, pillar of Morton’s salt
Why did I bend to taste the sodden grass of the soul
Why did I leave You to go to that place
It was weird and cold and dark there
The Holy Spirit was there but I could not see it
It was darkly blue shining but I could not see it (26)


This crazy government my neighborhood
With its rituals and spells my neighborhood
With its gag laws and baptisms
With its Golden Gloves and Southern Comfort
Rising with phoenix, rising from ashes
Rising from governments
Rising from corporate blood
Trekking it across Indonesia
Trekking it across Brazil
Trekking it across Africa
Trekking it across Kosovo
Trekking it across Emerging Markets
God weeps in my neighborhood
The South Pole has moved 15 feet in the last year my neighborhood
The ice is melting, the penguins are weeping . (32-33)