Brynn Saito is the author of The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award from Red Hen Press (2013). She also co-authored, with Traci Brimhall, Bright Power, Dark Peace, a chapbook of poetry from Diode Editions (2013). Brynn’s work has been anthologized by Helen Vendler and Ishmael Reed; it has also appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Pleiades.She is the recipient of a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Fellowship, the Poets 11 award from the San Francisco Public Library, and the Key West Literary Seminar’s Scotti Merrill Memorial Award. Brynn was born in the Central Valley of California to a Korean American mother and a Japanese American father. She received an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in religious studies from NYU. Currently, Brynn lives in the Bay Area and teaches at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and Sofia University. Visit her at


You live in a house of sound and you live
with a ghost. The one who stole your heart
also lives in your heart so you cut it out
with a carving knife and send it flying.
You say sometimes you wake and wait
for the god of loneliness to leave you alone.
I say our city is small and teeming
with ghosts and there are no seasons
for hiding. So we let go of the ones
who called us by our names. We make
ourselves new names by tracing letters
in a sand tray with sharp stones.
This is called Patience or Practicing
Solitude or The Wind Will Ruin Everything
but what does it matter let's go for beauty

every time. You say the price we pay for love
is loss. I say the price we pay for love
is love. You say sometimes you've nothing
save your hand in the glove and the glove
against wind and you're jabbing at the sky now
in the match of your life but the sky
never fights back so you praise it.

from The Palace of Contemplating Departure


Deep in the Cloud-filled Valley

You will never return
to your mother's house
or your father's garden

and the bed of your husband
will whittle away.

What sort of life is that?
Leaving things
so as to praise them later
with your own strangeness.

Now you think I won't know you
from the clouds that surround you
but you exalt everything
that cannot contain you—

I'll know you by your joy.

 from The Palace of Contemplating Departure


Brynn Saito


Like Any Good American

I bathe my television    in total attention    I give it my corneas  
I give it my eardrums    I give it my longing    
In return I get pictures      of girls fighting    and men flying    
and women in big houses    with tight faces    blotting down tears   
with tiny knuckles    Sometimes my mother calls   
and I don't answer      Sometimes a siren     sings past the window     
and summer air     pushes in     dripping with the scent  
of human sweat       But what do I care      I've given my skin
to the TV     I've given it my tastes     In return    it gives me so many     
different sounds     to fill the silence   where the secrets of my life    
flash by like ad space     for the coming season 


published in’s Poem-A-Day


2013 Brynn Saito


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