Place[meant] is a recurring series that explores identity beyond the geopolitical and physical parameters that have come to define our sense of place. From a train in Queens to the cuff of a bodily spell, the poems in this series navigate place as both material terrain and residual traces of one’s memory. Place[meant] delves into how migration, diaspora, borders, technologies of power and control, biopolitics, and historical violence shape our identities, the powers of which are anything but benign.
On primetime TV (which means nothing anymore), Bear Grylls, survival expert/
adventurer/Eton grad, scavenges a carcass in the Zambian wilderness. Before hyenas
arrive he slices flesh off a furry leg amid a swirl of feasting flies. It would be safer if he
cooks it, he narrates, but there’s no time for fire, so he bites into pink and gristle. His thin
upper lip leaves me a-quiver. I, then, cannot masticate my tacos carnitas. My guacamole
greens darker. Once he consumes his protein Bear gallops deeper into scrubland,
strategizing the arduous intricacies of staying alive. He’ll spend the molasses night atop a
baobab, the tree of life, which fruits he harvests with logs, flung. I fetch the tiramisu
gelato from the freezer. Bear dodges hippos, elephants; climbs cliffs; discovers safe
water. I’m buzzed on pinot noir. By this time, Bear has devoured a bevy of coveted
proteins: caterpillars squeezed empty of its green innards, roasted; bullfrogs fished with a
thorn tree branch once used by the Rhodesian Army for torture. I sip my cup of
Darjeeling. Survival is hard work.