The Dangle Unreleased

New Poetry by Michael Dufresne

Second Place in the Letter Review Prize for Poetry

14th April, 2023

安時而處順,哀樂不能入也。此古之所謂縣解也,而不能自解者,物有結之。

If you settle with the times and dwell in the course, neither grief nor joy will be able to enter. This is what the ancients called the dangle and release, and those who are unable to release themselves are bound by things.

– Zhuangzi, Chapter Six

Eyes on a butterfly’s wings flutter unconsciously,

not waking from this dream of me, so compelling

in its lack of consolation:

the skull is on the roadside

and I am left here to steep in my belief that death is

much worse than living;

and the boundless chamber

has no windows or doors, which only makes it seem

a restless, wailful space unfit for songs and drums

and comprehending fate;

and the coffin is open,

but you are undisclosed, a boat hidden in a ravine,

waiting to be borne by strong arms to the fire—

not food for ants or crows but ashes unconsumed,

lavishing the eyes…


Michael Dufresne is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His interests include Chinese philosophy, decolonial philosophy, feminist philosophy, aesthetics and, of course, poetry. He currently resides in Florida with his spouse.

Original Artwork by Kita Das