Self-Portrait as Riker – by Amorak Huey

It’s not the beard. Not just the beard. It’s that everything seems like such a big deal.
Like, propagation-of-the-species big.
The binding of one person to another. The need for genetic variation.
The living up to, the falling short of, the waiting my turn. The impatience.

The way love is measured sometimes in depth, sometimes in breadth.

The pleasure of cards stems from that moment when I collect my hand
knowing I am good enough to play them no matter what their faces reveal.
The pleasure of cooking is the sizzle of oil on a heated pan,
the odor of unusual ingredients,
the anticipation of an unfamiliar taste.
The pleasure of music is understanding how each note builds on its predecessors.

If my ambition feels inconsistent, the fault lies in the writing—
that fissure between idea and execution, between language and flesh.
Plans change. Vision evolves. The narrative demands are ever at war with the self.

Every continuity problem ends up visible. I fall in love often
and never fall out. I cannot shake the sense
that there’s another version of me—taller, stronger, more handsome—
living some other life on some other planet.


Amorak Huey, a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, is author of the poetry collections Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and Boom Box (Sundress, forthcoming in 2019) as well as the chapbooks The Insomniac Circus (Hyacinth Girl, 2014) and A Map of the Farm Three Miles from the End of Happy Hollow Road (Porkbelly, 2016). He is also co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of the forthcoming textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.