Before Kaddish by Elisa Karbin

While you bucked and brawled
against the nexus of your last
near-morning, the feuding

cells of you were already in decay.
Under the always-on striplight,
diffused to a deep fade between

the poles of this world and the next,
the frenzy of division cut its last
course through you.

Your body practiced
calling itself forth. A dry run
of the inevitable—the soon-expected

specter’s reluctant rise
in the tongue-slacked
rasp of this blue-burnt hour.

While you were dying, electricity
melted from minutes,
an unruly volta of the last synaptic

symphony’s wild refrain.
This, the veil that lifts,
that invents itself for you.


Elisa Karbin is the author of the chapbook, Snare, and poems that have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Diode, CutBank, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, and West Branch, among others. She earned a PhD in poetry from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was also a Tinsley Helton Dissertation fellow. Currently, she serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Marquette University. She has two cats. Find more info. at

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