You Are Not Here 
David Jauss (2002)
$10.00 softcover

You Are Not Here was a winner of the Louisville Review’s National Poetry Book Contest (2002), judged by Maura Stanton. The title poem appears below.


It started as a joke:
stuck on the world
map behind my desk,
a Post-it note with the words
You Are Not Here.
Each morning I move it
but Little Rock, Arkansas,
where I'm writing this.
Managua, Katmandu,
Beijing, Port-au-Prince,
Athens, Jakarta, Gdansk,
Ypsilanti—my students laugh
when they see where we're not
but I stopped laughing years ago.
Still, each morning,
I move that note again.

All these years
and still I haven't exhausted
all the places I'm not,
though I've exhausted myself
trying. It's too much
like life, all this traveling
toward absence. A long slow
unraveling of here into there
and there into nowhere . . .

Osaka, Rio de Janeiro,
Seoul, Melbourne, Havana,
Cairo, Saskatoon◊
each morning I ask myself
where I won't be today
or ever. The list
is almost infinite, but maybe,
if I keep practicing
the art of not being somewhere,
when I die I'll cross
that border with joy,
like a refugee
at long last returning
to the old country.

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