about the author

Joanna Hoffman is a spoken word poet originally from Silver Spring, MD, and now living in Brooklyn. She has been on three DC/Baltimore National Poetry Slam teams. In 2006, her team performed on Finals stage and ranked 4th in the nation. In 2007, she was the DC/Baltimore Grand Slam Champion and the Individual World Poetry Slam representative for Baltimore. Since relocating to New York for grad school, she has joined the Spoken World Almanac Project and featured at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Most recently, she represented the Bowery Poetry Club at the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam, where she performed on Finals stage and placed 9th overall out of over 70 poets. She was also a member of the 2011 Urbana Slam Team, which placed in the top 10 out of 72 teams at the National Poetry Slam, and was also the Urbana 2011 representative for the Individual World Poetry Slam, where she performed on Finals stage and ranked 10th out of 72 poets. She has been published in Spindle and as part of the recent GirlChild Press anthology, Women’s Work and the Jewish lesbian poetry anthology Milk and Honey. When not performing poetry, she works at a non-profit organization and runs in Prospect Park.

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Joanna Hoffman

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This ribbon is something
I knew by name, once—
a smooth, greaseless
sling of bone cradling
what seeps unguarded.

To learn protection,
what it means when
applied to myself,
when I am so used to
stitching my own swelter,

calling the fever home
with the mouth of the match,
the spark means lighthouse,
the burn speaks lullaby,
the coo of cracked skin

will not know me now.
This is what therapy and
remedy forget—that I love
the sound of my own
heart breaking

the delicious crash
stomping the embers
back to frenzy. It’s calm
that terrifies me: silent
snowstorms in the night,

how they blanket,
in a fine, proud skeleton,
the shivering earth,
its novacained twitch,
100 songs with their mouths

taped shut.

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