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Poetry: X. J. Kennedy and Kelli Russell Agodon

Backpacking with a Book

The Purpose of Time is to Prevent Everything from Happening at Once

X. J. Kennedy

Suppose your life a folded telescope
Durationless, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother’s womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage—toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents’ tread downstairs—all one.

Einstein was right. That would be too intense.
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping.
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You’ll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What happened?


Through booksandyou, I encountered reading about time. This started with the mummies in Atok, Benguet—an attraction for the curious. I found it ironic—the mummies’ existence mocks time, or perhaps mummies are time preserved to silence another time.


If I Ever Mistake You For a Poem

Kelli Russell Agodon

No body was ever composed
from words, not the hipsway

of verse, the iambic beat of a heart.
Yet inside you, a sestina

of arteries, the villanelle of villi,
sonnets between your shoulder blades.

If I were more obsessive I’d follow
the alliteration of age spots across

your arms. But I have exchanged
my microscope for a stethoscope

as I want to listen inside you, past
your repetition, your free verse of skin.

How easy it is to fall for your internal
organs. Your arrhythmia is charming

hidden in the ballad of body,
your gurgling stanzas, your lyric sigh.


It makes one want to marry a doctor. Having a doctor for a husband, however, precludes privacy. He can sense one’s “gurgling stanzas,” “lyric sigh.” And even a wife has secrets she wants to keep. They are little possessions she does not want to share—even to her husband.


Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at Find me somewhere else!

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