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Joshua Aiken

Years: 2018


Joshua Allen Aiken is a poet, researcher, and historian currently based in New Haven, Connecticut. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and his work has been featured or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Winter Tangerine, Assaracus, cahoodaloodaling, The Triptych Review, glitterMOB, fog machine, juked, Local Nomad, TENDER LOIN, and Forklift, Ohio. In 2016, he received the Martin Starkie Prize from the Oxford University Poetry Society as selected by poet Jane Yeh and he was an honorable mention in Boulevard Magazine’s 2018 Emerging Poets competition. He received his BA as a John B. Ervin Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis where he graduate summa cum laude in American Culture Studies and Political Science and received Masters degrees in U.S. History and Forced Migration Studies, at the University of Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is the former Policy Fellow at the Prison Policy Initiative, where his research on the harms of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions was cited by The New York Times Editorial Board, in the introduction of legislation in five states, and in a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Joshua’s research broadly focuses on the relationship between criminalization, migration, and anti-blackness in the longue durée. He is currently a J.D./Ph.D. student at Yale University, where he is working on a history of race and gun laws in American history from the colonial era to the present.


“absence is an axiom”



call my tongue a snout


& my body will : i will eat


i will : but i won’t : stop


making the same : scar


twice : sorry : that’s too


bloody a scene : there’s no


villain in this play : give me


a name and i’ll sing :


here’s the lonely deal


my body is where it’s not


here’s the not : my body is


inside itself and clawing at


the wounds : here’s the knot :


here’s what i can’t : call my


liver a liver : and i’ll know


everyone sitting at the bar :


call my lung a lung and i’ll


have the whole pack : these


are conjectures not truths :


remember i eat : i starve :


gorge: i lunge : i be : for the


slop : i look for the mess : that


is me : here’s the deal : the


tame beast : fills a void : the


white space : grabs me : the


pup’s affirmed command : is


me : the loud bark : the sealed


mouth : i be : i be



(Originally published in Juked)