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‘Duende Essays’ by Su Hwang

— Andrew Sargus Klein

When you are this tired, you see that fatigue confirmed everywhere. When you are this tired, there is fear that poetry—everything, really—loses its shine, that there is only fear and the waiting for what evil will come next. ‘Duende Essays,’ by Su Hwang in Glass Poetry Journal, leaves me tired still, yes. These fragments bear pain, but they are not overwhelmed by it.

A poet says there is something alive
about the desert. Blistering childhoods breed
a certain strain of resilience.

Even in perpetual
winter, you carry
that heat with you.

They approach hopelessness, but don’t cross over.

…woodland creature guards the shrub picked clean of berries – waiting for spring,

These images are of borders, of crossings, of uncertainty. These images are only growing brighter, heavier with blood with each day and each headline. To the point of break and collapse. The poem ends not with hope, but with something near fatalism. “There’s no turning back” is a phrase with many faces, not unlike the word duende that looks down over the poem. “There’s no turning back” is a redundancy and a rallying cry, a shrug and a fist. It’s up to us to choose.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry