Poetry Sunday: “Here, Too,” by Jennifer Nelson

Here, Too

Where too many things stand in relation,
and every human thing retreats.
Empire is the only form of preservation.

Liberals letterpress an invitation
to dance to Other people’s beats.
Here too many things stand in relation

to allow for any real vacation.
Everyone murders so everyone eats.
Empire is the only form of preservation

that polices its ritual predation
so the entrails explain the elites.
Here too many things stand in relation:

even empire’s own obliteration
fantasy plays the game and cheats.
Empire is only the form of preservation.

Imagine history without salvation.
A form obsessed with loss repeats.
Here, too, many things stand in relation.
Empire is the only form of preservation.


First published here as a broadside released by Ugly Duckling Presse in February 2016, it is also the first page-numbered poem in Nelson’s Civilization Makes Me Lonely (Ahsahta 2017), available for order here.

Permission granted by Janet Holmes, Professor, Creative Writing, Director, Ahsahta Press, Boise State University. 


Jennifer Nelson is the author of Aim at the Centaur Stealing Your Wife (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015) and Civilization Makes Me Lonely (Ahsahta 2017). Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in MAKE: A Literary Magazine, BathHouse Journal, Pinwheel, Versal, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Publisher’s Weekly reviewed Civilization Makes Me Lonely here. (Author photo credit: Ana María León)


Poet’s Note

I wrote this villanelle almost instantaneously while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and experiencing the privileges and pressures of its high-powered liberal environment. A bitter flow pushed these rhymes. It is commonplace to think that consumer imperialism always invests in its critiques and grows stronger by digesting them into something palatable. But as a woman of color uninterested in reproducing capitalism’s microcosmic social structures, I also found a bitter fascination in the fact that this digestion process was in fact often the only thing that preserved resistance at all.

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Meredith Bergmann July 16, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    “Imagine history without salvation.” Wonderful line, very effective poem- thank you!

  • Cara July 15, 2018 at 7:43 am

    I often contemplate putting my decades of writing into a book format, Kindle or other publishers have attached to me at this time. I am asking for opinions on publishing. Christian inspired? Women in caregiving positions? anyone who has recently published and had a “good” experience. Chapters are written, outline defined years ago. Title already picked by me. Lastly any ideas on ghostwriters as I might not see the truth in my story, as they shall see it. Thank you