This month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring Jaswinder Bolina’s accomplished new volume Phantom Camera. Winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize, the Lesley University professor’s second collection nimbly navigates readers through the chaos of contemporary life in 37 poems PW called “sophisticated but eminently embraceable, a tip-off of what’s to come.” So check out this fresh new voice, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.
Portrait of the Self
The self wakes up extruded of whimsy. No tango in
its Rorschach, no mermen in its sea. The self with
its ordinary appendages, all radial arm and ulna, no
wing. Solemn face of the self reflected in the black
plastic of the microwave door, the self so somber
nobody would want to hold its hand at a roller rink
any longer than two revolutions. Basket case of the
self with its penchant for gloom. Beneath its
accouterments the self swears it’s not so frumpy.
The self insists there are fairer editions of itself:
radiant in a dance hall or expert on a call-in radio
show, executive self on the board of directors,
drunk and fond self so earnest and inconsequential
it’s necessarily beautiful. Like a photograph lying in
a field of snow. Fragile beast of the self, hid animal
in a cap and a coat in the damp cold of the solstice.
Turbine of the self exhaling phantasms of steam.
Something escapes it. In death, it wants only to be
itself again. In life, it wants only to conquer itself,
the self in its honest hovel honestly attempting to
void its desire. Self as the pagoda and also the idol
cross-legged and worshipped there. The self with its
mule and its bindle already yearning for so little.
Only the gig in Boca and a bungalow on the shore.
Only vision and dental and the modest attention of a
bashful cadre of devotees. Only to grow tomatoes in
Boca beside a humble but ample veranda. Only this
and then, the self tells itself. Then, it would abstain
from longing. Then, the self would desist, in its hut
of contentment, bronzed and blithe self there on its