Breath Work:
Abbra Kotlarczyk
Gently inhale & exhale
Right lung, left lung, blink [1]
Hold on to your seat real tight, hold your breath, keep your eyes in your head, and go on [2]
Meditate on the colour that is flesh void of oxygen, also the
discoloured fruit / fingered out of misted windows / into which I breathed [3]
     for years i stood / in the semeny ginko staring at my hands         believing / in afterlives thinking one day I’d wake into / a new kind of body     like a fish suddenly / breathing air through its eyes [4
When ready, place your right pointer finger in the centre of your forehead, your thumb over your right nostril, your middle finger searching for its erogenous zone. 
o separate(d)/strands of our breath!/Bright silver/threads of spirit/O quicksilver/spurt of fist, scansion of/unfocused eyeball [5]
While here, practice pushing air from the back of your throat up into your eye sockets. 
consider making this your mourning practice.
you don't refuse to breathe do you [6]
the primary medium of poetry is not language but breath, specifically the breath of the poet marrying the breath of the reader. This is the key to its intimacy, its strange physicality [7] 
the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE / the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE [8]
This is (also) why bad poetry hurts so much [9] 
becoming dragonfish to survive / the horrors we are living / with tortured lungs / adapting to breathe blood [10]
 the hellish (but breathable) finitudes of our present conjuncture [11]
Inhale & raise your arms / above your head (...) 
Apply a small amount of  tea tree oil to the tip of a cotton ball (...)
all arrangements require pain (...) 
           Hold the cotton ball up to the opening of your mouth, so that your breath might catch its oil and become dry, brittle, might shrink 
Is not the acquisition of speech based on the ability to fit the words in one’s mouth? To push the lips this way and that, shaping breath into particular forms? [12]
         Slowly, peel your breathing away from its body so that it becomes a tender outlier draped on the floor. Look over at your sculpted breath-skin; attend to it daily. Think about what it means to denature, to render something so alive—antibacterial, antifungal. Are you now: analgesic; anti       - viral?
as you slowly lower your arms, exhale / & pour your pleasure into a crystal vase [13]
           Hold it there, applying a veil of empathic gauze over the mouth of the vessel so that your pleasure can still receive air, but not without effort.
Repeat three times:
As long as the earth continues / its stony breathing, I will breathe. [14]
Smother all illusions, alas
stones only breathe once         a             year. [15]
            Like last night, on the riverbank, between the moss and the / baby’s-breath, where he had kissed her sticky until she cried out from / her chest [16]
Combat breathing names the mobilisation of the target subject’s life energies merely in order to continue to live, to breathe and to survive the exercise of state violence [17]
 If we can inhale/exhale with perfect / regularity, [18]
if breath / is a leash to hold the mind [19]
proceed to attune to all the ways in which your body—
A body can cause almost anything / to happen. [20]
In the moments before sleep, close your eyes and hold your breath; repeat the words “I can’t breathe” eleven times. Think about what it means to hold.
the new shoots / the streaking old gums / to dawn to dew to breath / held [21]
you don't refuse to breathe do you [22] 
the immediacy of the experience of breathlessness creates an epistemic mismatch between the person suffering and the person observing [23]
His breath a misplaced weather [24] 
Was he limp? Did he stir/ w/ life? Did she hear/ his soft breath in her ear? [25]
Snow kites stretch prone in corries, altitude / stiffens breath. [26]
Where the Greek root of algorithm—algos—means pain, scroll hungrily through your social media feed, breaking the images open through attention to your bio-rhythmic selves.
Do this by focusing on any of a combination of the qualities of the breath that abound:
metonymic ;      sentient ;     terrestrial ;     biotic ; combatant ; pneumatic ; rapid ;       languid ;           diaphragmatic ;     
throbbing ;                 tranquil ;                   calm ; strained ;        delicate ;   laboured ;   stale ;   sticky ; wet ; drunk ; panicky ;           peaceful ;     
egalitarian ;              sweet ;                                abundant ;        precarious ;   necessary.
there is a space between the layers, a palimpsestic interval one is always trying to inhabit, a lateral fascination through which attention passes, as  the  appositional  sending  of  (an)  air,  an  exploratory  envoy  of  breathing [27]
Is this attention more or less surplus?
a “superfluous” mention of breath (that) must therefore designate an emphasis [28]
The breathing catastrophe [29]

    When breathing can no longer be taken for granted [30]
Think about what isolation means to you. Once you have abandoned all reference, listen to your breath as a teeming ecology. 
          one who breathes (a human as “Atem-und-Lehm”) has aerial roots like certain adventitious plants, and breathing is a tie that unites the terrestrial realm and sky [31]
Grayscale breath on a fluid / field [32] 
God's breath on a compound of silica [33]
you simplified a complicated man, / swallowed his past / until his breath was / warm as Caribbean / concrete [34]
“inexhaustible breath, inexhaustible spirit” [35]
Submerge your head in light and bury your voice in its breath (...)
Colour plus number equals blend, blur, breathe [36]
proceed to count up from 1 until your lungs have been completely expelled. 
Inhale—naturally, desperately. 
Repeat as many times as needed: 
Without your / residential breath / i lose my timing [37]
Singular respiration is concatenated with others’ breathing, and this corespiration we name “society” [38]
A breathing human — even in the face of adversity — mediates between singularity (earth) and universality (air) [39]
Beware of bosses. You are closing / your eyes at night and feeling bones / expand or shrink as you take / and release each breath [40]
         All of a sudden, wake up to the thought of how much air you will need on this day. Take no more, no less. Take things a day at a time.
I well-nigh sunk all my capital in it, and lost my own breath into the bargain [41]
         Take a walk around your block / keep going until you find lavender / pinch the bud three times between your left thumb and index finger / pull down your mask / lean over and take a deep breath of the bud / pull your mask back up / exhale [42]
It was ecstasy, it was sweet, air soughing in and all my little alveoli singing away with joy and oxygen-energy coursing through every space and particle of me [43]
a desire for otherwise air than what is and has been given, the enunciation, the breathing out the strange utterance of otherwise possibility [44] 
Caress your breath.
each breath we take is a reciprocal exchange with our surroundings [45];
1. Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf (London: Penguin Random House), 36.
2. Alexis Wright, The Swan Book (Artarmon: Giramondo Publishing, 2013), 99.    
3. Omar Sakr, These Wild Houses (Carlton South: Cordite Publishing Inc., 2017), 8.
4. Kaveh Akbar, ibid, 42.
5. “Diane di Prima,” The Allen Ginsberg Project, accessed August 13, 2020,
6. Frank O’Hara, “Song (Is it dirty),” All Poetry, accessed August 18, 2020,\
7.Ariana Reines, “Interview with Ariana Reines,” interview by Rebecca Tamás, The White Review, July, 2019, accessed August 10, 2020,
8. Charles Olsen, “Projective Verse,” Poetry Foundation, accessed August 13, 2020,
9. Ariana Reines, ibid.
10. Audre Lorde, “Afterimages,” Poetry Foundation, accessed August 8, 2020,
11. Noah Brehmer, “There is, after all, still air to breathe in hell, Part 2,” Blind Field: A Journal of Cultural Inquiry, accessed August 13, 2020,
12. Brandon LaBelle, Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imaginary (London & Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), 7.
13.  Autumn Royal, She Woke & Rose (Carlton South: Cordite Publishing Inc., 2016), 6.
14.  Kaveh Akbar, ibid, 39.
15.  Fanny Howe, “The Definitions,” Poetry Foundation, accessed August 10, 2020,
16.  Tayi Tibble, Poūkahangatus (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2019), 35.
17.  Suvendrini Perera, and Joseph Pugliese, “Introduction: Combat Breathing: State Violence & the Body in Question,” Somatechnics 1, no. 1 (2011): 1–14,
18.  Rae Armantrout, ibid, 59.
19.  Kaveh Akbar, ibid, 46.
20.  Kaveh Akbar, ibid, 80.
21.  Jazz Money, “Gully Song,” Lieu Journal, accessed June 15, 2020,
22.  Frank O’Hara, ibid.
23.  Arthur Rose, “Introduction: Reading Breath in Literature,” in Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine: Reading Breath in Literature, eds. Arthur Rose, Stephanie Heine, Naya Tsentourou, Corinne Saunders, and Peter Garratt (Cham: Palgrave Pivot, 2019), 4.
24.  Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (London: Jonathan Cape & Penguin Random House, 2017), 13–14.
25.  The Allen Ginsberg Project, ibid.
26.  Maria Fusco, Master Rock (London: Artangel & Book Works, 2015), 7.
27.  Fred Moten, Black and Blur (consent not to be a single being) (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2017), 247.
28.  Arthur Rose, ibid, 10.
29. Donatella Di Cesare, “Immunodemocracy: Capitalist Asphyxia,” Penguin Random House, accessed August 23, 2020,
30.  ibid.
31.  Antti Salminen, “On Breathroutes: Paul Celan’s Poetics of Breathing,” Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 12, no. 1 (2014): 107–126,
32.  Andrew Zawacki, “[Grayscale breath on a fluid…],” Poetry Foundation, accessed August 10, 2020,
33.  Marilyn Nelson, “Readings in Contemporary Poetry: Clay,” Dia Art Foundation, accessed August 13, 2020,
34.  Raymond Antrobus in Emily Hasler, “Raymond Antrobus (United Kingdom, 1989),” Poetry International Archives, accessed August 10, 2020,
35. Jean-Thomas Tremblay, “Being Black and Breathing: On “Blackpentecostal Breath,”” Los Angeles Review of Books, accessed August 6, 2020,
36.  Fred Moten, ibid.
37.  Sonia Sanchez in Jackie Wang, Carceral Capitalism (Cambridge: Semiotext(e), 2018), 319.
38.  Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Breathing: Chaos and Poetry (Cambridge: Semiotext(e), 2019), 25.
39.  Antti Salminen, ibid.
40.  Elena Gomez, Body of Work (Carlton South: Cordite Publishing Inc., 2018), 4.
41.  Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995), 11.
42.  Ender Baskan, email message to author, August 11, 2020.
43.  Keri Hulme in Arthur Rose, “Introduction: Reading Breath in Literature,” in Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine: Reading Breath in Literature, ibid, 2.
44.  Arthur Rose, “Combat Breathing in Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, in Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine: Reading Breath in Literature, ibid, 114.
45.  Kath Fries, “Respire i-vi: artist statement,” @pari-ari instagram post, August 25, 2020.
© Lieu Journal 2020