Cut Loose


Poem by Jonathan Burkhalter

Illustrations by Noah Therriault


Jonathan Burkhalter was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He earned a BA at the University of Tennessee and is currently an MFA Candidate at Sarah Lawrence. His work has appeared in Ray's Road Review, Hooligan Magazine, Eropium, and elsewhere. Jonathan was also featured on an ACLU benefit album titled, Is There Another Language?, produced by Gezellig Records and available on Bandcamp. In addition to poetry, Jonathan has created and shown work in performance and video art, as well as with aromas. He currently resides in New York City.

"Cut Loose" started in a flood of emotions after a failing relationship, that I really wanted to work out, finally ended. In the learning to let go of the fear of losing a partner and being forgotten by someone you still care for, I began exploring fear and erasure in existential, political, and cultural frames in addition to my personal fears. While writing this poem, fear began to feel like a very real, capable knife pressed against a tender spot, ready to cut the fearer speechless or set them free of that fear.


Who does not want
to be untethered
to fear

to return
to basics

to cut into the wilderness
of heart and pull out

mantras or solitude
or some other mad constituent

of fear that
has risen above
its master before

as Simon bar Kokhba rose
in the Second Revolt

again and against
are not so different
after all

who does not want
to be
cut loose

to float along
a sea
of dreams

beneath stars
streaking like tears

to slip a knife beneath the tongue
as the cutting goes

and bear its teeth


Keep up more with Jonathan's work here.

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