From the Editor
As I write this, the trash accumulates: Styrofoam food containers, used Clorox wipes, face masks, plastic gloves, plastic bags. Eventually, these objects are taken out of the home, thrown down the chute into dumpsters, and soon transported to the landfill, removed from our sight. And yet, my obsession with waste reminds me that it doesn’t remain there, that waste refuses to be contained and forgotten. It invites itself back into our homes—all of its objects and their memories—in different bacterial forms. It demands that we notice it.
This second issue arrives at a moment when capitalism once again reveals its fragile making, when all the lives, objects, labors, and lands not-noticed—and denied notice—resurface before us. And no matter how much capitalism wills it, they don't disappear. I have long been drawn to waste for how it forces me to acknowledge the difficulty of a clean, “normal” world. Cleanliness does little to address the harm; it simply sweeps it under or elsewhere. Now, as people are made more aware of our world’s failures and terrors, I wonder who among us will refuse normality when we are forced back into it. “In the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves,” writes Arundhati Roy. “Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.”
I write all of this to introduce our issue because poetry can often shift our attention to what is hidden, erased, or stitched over. It requires another kind of seeing. I hope the works here move you to see and sense differently, as they have for me. As Alexis Pauline Gumbs, calling upon the work of Sylvia Wynter, writes in her new book Dub, we “have the capacity to know differently. We are word made flesh. But we make words. So we can make ourselves anew.”