August, and the Snow Has Just Melted, by Julia Johanne Tolo

August, and the Snow Has Just Melted, by Julia Johanne Tolo

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August, and the snow has just melted teaches you a new language. (Nå kan du norsk!) These poems ask the important questions. Can you go home again? Are we different people in different languages? What city has higher crime rate per inhabitant; Oslo or New York? Does your senile grandma know who Beyonce is? The answers will shock you! Maybe. I don’t know you.

Julia Johanne Tolo is a poet and translator. Her work can be read in Asymptote Journal, Slice Magazine, Copper Nickel Journal, Black and Blue Anthologies and other places.

"A visceral collection of poems with urgency in its reflection. The poems convey a magnificent tone of stillness in their raw states." -Stephanie Valente, author of Hotel Ghost

"Just as plants reach toward light, the urge to feel sun intrinsic and emphatic, so Julia Johanne Tolo's poems extend from a deep unclouded desire. To live, to see, to speak and grieve, to find truth "out / there, somewhere"." -Carly Dashiell, McNally Jackson




New York/Oslo

I was found in a dark bar on
the west side of some east-coast city

this way, I said
I’m closer to my heart


home is the place you are not

everything is this:

get up from bed
each morning don’t
look into eyes
much, I know anyway
hide me:

from the train window
I wave at people
I don’t know
until they recognize me
until spring comes
until my children are born &
my promises broken, until
I belong


mormor og jeg lager lemonade

mormor has become a fish
all around her: thick black water
all around me: blue open sky I

she folds her hands over
the kitchen table: awkwardly
gills rubbing against each
other: she’s
to swim

she told me
she is a silvery guest
in this house, it
is nobody’s home, fish
live in the sea

I imagine her mind
how ideas must float by
ungraspable, complete

every now and then
a flicker of light:

she wants to know
what my favorite thing
about life is

probably Beyonce
after that

it’s all easy
mormor can’t remember
that her friends are dead

and I get to witness
this new way she has
of speaking in verse