“Execution in Slow Motion” by Joanna Chen

Long before the severance pay, the indecision,
the uncertainty, the closing of foreign bureaus,


the need to double up, to do without, make do,
make it work, the pressure to deliver on time,


all the time, the deadlines and the dull dread,
my head began to roll. It rolled recklessly down


alleyways never visited, down barren hills
where no stories grew and no disasters happened,


aside from my own. Motionless, the rest of my body
continued to sit obediently at its desk, trawling


the wires and the web for new angles and sharp takes,
yet my head kept rolling down hills and wadis,


snags of olive branches tangling in my hair, wild
hyssop catching in the golden twist of my earrings.






Joanna Chen is a poet and literary translator. Her poems, essays and translations have appeared in Poet Lore, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Cactus Heart, and The Bakery, among others. She recently appeared on Transatlantic Poetry and is guest poetry editor of The Ilanot Reviewwww.joannachen.com