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Issue 2.2

Summer 2022

Jami Macarty


This poem, from The Long Now Conditions Permit, tracks an unfolding walk to Crab Park in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia on the traditional territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations. The DTES has been profoundly burdened by male violence against, and the unrelenting deaths and disappearances of, women and girls of all races. The title echoes Esther Lee's prose poem “Before (a poem about suspension)” from Sacrificial Metal (Conduit Books & Ephemeral, 2020), which I read after the steps of the poem assembled themselves into a list. During that time, bridges arced my thinking—physical, conceptual, and temporal bridges between events—before after and the irrevocable.

Before, a Study of Suspension

before a golden dog frightens to flight glaucous-winged gulls

before gulls wing-lift from water to air

circle back to before a woman and man toss bread


walking through which my eyes lift before

great blue heron drafts the bridge


before two-by porta-potty doors wide open contrary or joining

the greening unfolding openings of maple oak and grass

geese waddle nibble


before a woman kneels

rolls her bedroll



the murdered and missing women's memorial bench


a man stops and smells the roses

before the one white rose at his nose’s height


before a boat motoring north ferries workers

geared in hard hats and safety orange to where who knows


the rounded corner breeze

before invasive Queen Anne's lace


before a crow on a maple branch turns its emollient back to the water

three elders warm for Tai Chi


before a woman at the shore looks up to a woman on the path

before knowing is that knowingly

before knowing who is there to know


birthday crepe winds pink the pier railing

a silver 9 balloon downed and deflated in the railing’s corner—

                                                            who is yesterday's nine-year-old?

A writer of essays, reviews, and poetry, Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award - Poetry Arizona. Jami's second collection, The Long Now Conditions Permit, was a finalist for the 2022 Test Site Poetry Series Prize.

Jami's Book Recommendations

The Little Book of No Consolation (Barrow Street Press, 2021), by Becka Mara McKay

Ark (Flood Editions, 2014), by Ronald Johnson

Reverse Rapture (Wave Books, 2005), by Dara Wier

CURB (Nightboat Books, 2021), by Divya Victor

Morgan (a Lyric) (Gold Line Press, 2022), by Boyer Rickel

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