Cover Photo: illustration of two men embracing under a Japanese maple tree in the foreground; behind them is a Nagoya street filled with shops and cafes and a shrine, with mountains in the distance
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies

if you believe me to be your enemy know this I accept

I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies

      after June Jordan

I am the least inimical thing on the wide promenades of Nagoya
kissing my lover in rush hour even the dead do not give a damn

imagine no one thinking our bodies were damaged dangerous
delirious I hold his hand never thinking I would

morning washed down the face of the buildings
like a blind man shaving rusty puddles and sunshine

in front of the starbucks and I am become the action of my fate
content with the minute rebellion of living comrade

if you believe me to be your enemy know this I accept
terrible revenge in merciless clots of love

blossoming by daylight fragrant by night if the knot
of our bodies is a burden know this you are burdened alone

in the wilds of our joy hunted by a kiss an animal frothed
I have not threatened your soft moments and yet you are threatened

Ryan Dzelzkalns has poems appearing with Assaracus, DIAGRAM, The Offing, The Shanghai Literary Review, Tin House, and others. He received an MFA from New York University and a BA from Macalester College where he was awarded the Wendy Parrish Poetry Prize. He has worked for the Academy of American Poets and was recently a Fulbright scholar in Tokyo, where he still lives. Read more at