It is the first day of spring, the children are singing
(they are supposed to be sleeping) the clock is ticking the cats are waiting for supper, one of them pregnant kittens to herald the spring, nothing is blooming nothing seems to bloom much around farms, just hayfields and corn farms are too pragmatic, I look at ads for hydrangea bushes, which I hate they remind me of brooklyn
for chinese wisteria vines, which I can’t picture
but they sound exotic and mysterious a kind of blue purple, I decide I’ll get some
will I be disappointed, will they be yellow?
will I hate the Shetland pony we are buying will we run out of wholewheat flour this week before a new supply drives up from the city?
oh, it is very like being a pioneer,
but then everything is in this country, and in the country especially. it was like being a pioneer on 5th street, too and houston street, and amsterdam avenue and in brooklyn, under the streetlights growing up rollerskating at dusk with stickball games in the street was the most pioneery of all,
it is slightly boring,
it tastes a lot of the times crossword puzzle and ordering things thru the mail, which never come or turn out wrong, or come the wrong color (wisteria)
I can’t blame Alan for planning to go to India
to free his kundalini, so that his ears peel or something dreadful happens to his physique we are built for the exotic, we americans, this landscape leaves us as open as a piece of chocolate cream pie
We aren’t the solid men.
We bend like the number seven.
Dig at corners, eat cobwebs, we
are barefoot and bare-legged.
We hang like leaves in autumn.
We aren’t the stolid men.
We scribble in familiar ink
about sunfalls and night. We
see the white in the sky, and sigh.
We lie with penciled grins.
We aren’t the men, any men.
We rip at the neck and wonder why
while rattlers roll in. Bent
as a number, crooked, sundered,
we aren’t the idle lightning
if black thunder.
Wherever we go, needs feed and I find it harder and harder to
believe benevolence is the thing Thousands of Yazidi girls
missing and plastic fills the ocean’s mouth and the cursive of
yr name still occupies the canopy of my throat Fuel, the under-
pinning What fires your gd engine Rigor, mortis Cold as
unmoving or unmoved The opposite of music Warm in the
cold universe Molten, forming A rock becoming magma
becoming lava becoming land Land, the trauma of lava Lava
the lamp of the ancestors and later a cheeky find in the Junk
shop and rising in our living room Livin groom Just bc nothing
cares doesn’t mean it lacks meaning What’s the point of
curiosity but a train rolling past the spot where the Donner
Party feasted n then go on a four hour Wikipedia downward
spiral I’m the closest thing to a mime parade I whisper, home
late tiptoeing down the creaky hallway tryin not to wake my
roommates Nice chicken parm, sluts, I say to my fingers at
lunch Dissociation is evacuating from the inside
I just know
we’ll have a good time Junk: a relief map of yr traumas Dipping
yr whole arm into the bin of sunflower seeds I’m in my Shonda
Year of Yes n so far it’s pretty freak Gave a beej 2 a
logger in town for a football game at his hostel (almost wrote
hostile) the old-fashioned way, as in I met him at a bar after
lingering eye contact No apps Told him I was writing this poem
Flush with success after only eating half the cheeseburger for
dinner For the first time in my life it wasn’t no burger or four
burgers Full on Rocky situation He said he was flattered every
time his gf’s gay friends grabbed his beer can Bacon-wrapped-
date-flavored Doritos The artifice of order Predictability,
measured time, present wrapping Order, Order, Pockets of
Order Or, Durham I dumped a boy from Raleigh today The
baton of Junk The dance whirls Whorls War Tortle Cut to mall
dressing room thousand outfits montage Ignorance as a tool to
revive the feeling of doing something new Junk has to be the
poem of our time Pointless accumulation Clinging to a million
denials Why do you need an assault rifle?
What if radioactive
bears Buying in bulk Afraid of forgetting that night in 2007
when Chantal shouted jamiroquai is holding this party
together!!!! Junk is the garbage ppl keep Didn’t they tell you
I’m a meteorologist but for people What’s that called? Psychic?
Psychic side chick In maths, “arbitrary” is a thing w/o specific
value Quite the Junkery The world, all of its rock formations
and space missions and presidents and religious phobias and
fashions fossils All of it has always seemed so arbitrary to me,
bc to survive this long into an occupation feels sometimes so
arbitrary to be And then sometimes so divine Who else could
survive but my line It’s true, your Junk won’t save you from a
tsunami, but I’m descended from a group whose culture history
language gods cosmology calendar stories government gait was
capital “O” Obliterated I’ll stop writing this when it stops hap-
pening So when I “get” anything it’s hard to let go Resisting
death for generations, I want to make the opposite of death No
excuse for a vanilla bean tapioca ball attitude Ever bought a
McFlurry n shouted yr dead inside but yew were pointing a
finger at yrself and, horrified, yew screamed Ran home but half-
way home yew forgot what yew were doing n bought a pair of
sneaker boots at DSW or just me? I’m building the archive of a
life that shouldn’t exist Wristband from that gay club in
Cartagena where we danced w/ the self-proclaimed Perez
Hilton of Colombia Every bar frankly should have tostones
smellin up the grill Is a poem abt Junk itself merely an accum-
ulation of doomsday and birth certificates If part of Junk is
letting go, partly Junk is letting go of you Junk finds a new boo
“Control” by Janet Jackson is one of the greatest songs in the
nation Warm hearts sparkle in the colonial afternoon Control
is a reaction to something smacking that cracks the future
w/ no precedent We call this a paradigm shift — say we were
totally blindsided Janet wants to take control from her parents
From the loss of a first love Control of the narrative Janet
wants to Black Cat in boxy military garb Janet wants to show
you her midriff and introduce J. Lo to the general public in
a few albums Shock is a kind of collision A booming confusion
The shudder and the shot are almost indistinguishable Shock
has its electric correlate, but is also itself by what surrounds
the event: a quiet dinner party vs sweaty racing thoughts And
what do you make of it My friend said he found out his crush
graduated college in 2014 n hates himself And I’m like wait
til yr my age thinkin,
I totally still look like I’m in my 20s Then
it turns out the dude you were makin out with was born the
Janet, the album, came out What the literal fudge An hour
ago you were singing “That’s the Way Love Goes” at karaoke
In my defense, taller dudes always look older How to negotiate
control and the lack of control When yr slap hand gets itchy OK
whenever anybody dumps you just think of them as a gif of a
white dude wilding out to Wu Tang in a cardigan then suddenly
falling into the Grand Canyon — Dating is all the way dumb I
don’t know what, if any of this, will reach yr peepers but I want
to ask you this (and I am guilty of making ppl wade thru some
bullshit b4 getting to my point): What do you turn to when
breath dashes from yr body like it’s on the lamb? Cindy Craw-
ford says lighting is everything Take a selfie from the sun-
blown window Even supermodels say “lighting” It’s comforting!
But there’s also value in exposing yr engine #BadSelfie Archaic
but also so fresh: self-expression Trust is a thing that guides
you thru a feed The voice like a handshake I’m in front of you
There is paper and a trade-off This is ancient, like pixel drift
What’s under the hood of irritation We call complication a knot
A knotted life that doesn’t get to be undone Who here has a
clear, linear rope? Denial! You have to love yr knots You have
to shout them out Curate if need be Janet turns her knots into
songs Sonic beauty (tho fuck beauty) Knot is the response A
manager is like a politician Not the minutiae but the orchest-
ration The dark forest It’s hard not to inhale The cave is where
to turn when you’ve no other recourse This isn’t a discussion
This isn’t a mandate (lol man date) This isn’t an answer This is
a lineage: Lascaux, Keith Haring, Rihanna How do you draw
breath? In and down Heel to crown Janet says I’m in control
and ends Don’t make me lose it As if she knows what’s to come.
The battle of control is in learning to make, and giving it up
When I am not writing I am not writing a novel called
1994 about a young
woman in an office park in a provincial town who has a job cutting and
pasting time. I am not writing a novel called
Nero about the world's richest
art star in space. I am not writing a book called
Kansas City Spleen. I am
not writing a sequel to
Kansas City Spleen called Bitch's Maldoror. I am not
writing a book of political philosophy called
Questions for Poets. I am not
writing a scandalous memoir. I am not writing a pathetic memoir. I am not
writing a memoir about poetry or love. I am not writing a memoir about
poverty, debt collection, or bankruptcy. I am not writing about family
court. I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are for property owners
and not writing a memoir about prohibitions of memoirs.
When I am not writing a memoir I am also not writing any kind of poetry,
not prose poems contemporary or otherwise, not poems made of frag-
ments, not tightened and compressed poems, not loosened and conversa-
tional poems, not conceptual poems, not virtuosic poems employing many
different types of euphonious devices, not poems with epiphanies and not
poems without, not documentary poems about recent political moments,
not poems heavy with allusions to critical theory and popular song.
I am not writing "Leaving the Atocha Station" by Anne Boyer and certain-
ly not writing "Nadja" by Anne Boyer though would like to write "Debt"
by Anne Boyer though am not writing also "The German Ideology" by
Anne Boyer and not writing a screenplay called "Sparticists."
I am not writing an account of myself more miserable than Rousseau.
I am not writing an account of myself more innocent than Blake.
I am not writing epic poetry although I like what Milton said about lyric
poets drinking wine while epic poets should drink water from a wooden
bowl. I would like to drink wine from a wooden bowl or to drink water
from an emptied bottle of wine.
I am not writing a book about shopping, which is a woman shopping.
I am not writing accounts of dreams, not my own or anyone else's.
I am not writing historical re-enactments of any durational literature.
I am not writing anything that anyone has requested of me or is waiting
on, not a poetics essay or any other sort of essay, not a roundtable re-
sponse, not interview responses, not writing prompts for younger writers,
not my thoughts about critical theory or popular songs.
I am not writing a new constitution for the republic of no history.
I am not writing a will or a medical report.
I am not writing Facebook status updates. I am not writing thank-you
notes or apologies. I am not writing conference papers. I am not writing
book reviews. I am not writing blurbs.
I am not writing about contemporary art. I am not writing accounts of
my travels. I am not writing reviews for
The New Inquiry and not writ-
ing pieces for
Triple Canopy and not writing anything for Fence. I am not
writing a daily accounting of my reading, activities, and ideas. I am not
writing science fiction novels about the problem of the idea of the au-
tonomy of art and science fiction novels about the problem of a society
with only one law which is consent. I am not writing stories based on
Nathaniel Hawthorne's unwritten story ideas. I am not writing online dat-
ing profiles. I am not writing anonymous communiqués. I am not writing
I am not writing a history of these times or of past times or of any future
times and not even the history of these visions which are with me all day
and all of the night.
The legendary dramatic actress indulges our host with a reading of lines from the poem 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
"Um Poema por Semana" é uma ideia de Paula Moura Pinheiro. São 15 poemas em 75 dias, ditos por 75 pessoas. // Poema [Quando vier a primavera,], Alberto Caeiro
Nascido em Portugal, de pais portugueses,
e pai de brasileiros no Brasil, serei talvez norte-americano quando lá estiver. Coleccionarei nacionalidades como camisas se despem, se usam e se deitam fora, com todo o respeito necessário à roupa que se veste e que prestou serviço. Eu sou eu mesmo a minha pátria. A pátria de que escrevo é a língua em que por acaso de gerações nasci. E a do que faço e de que vivo é esta raiva que tenho de pouca humanidade neste mundo quando não acredito em outro, e só outro quereria que este mesmo fosse. Mas, se um dia me esquecer de tudo, espero envelhecer tomando café em Creta com o Minotauro, sob o olhar de deuses sem vergonha. II O Minotauro compreender-me-á. Tem cornos, como os sábios e os inimigos da vida. É metade boi e metade homem, como todos os homens. Violava e devorava virgens, como todas as bestas. Filho de Pasifaë, foi irmão de um verso de Racine, que Valéry, o cretino, achava um dos mais belos da "langue". Irmão também de Ariadne, embrulharam-no num novelo de que se lixou. Teseu, o herói, e, como todos os gregos heróicos, um filho da puta, riu-lhe no focinho respeitável. O Minotauro compreender-me-á, tomará café comigo, enquanto o sol serenamente desce sobre o mar, e as sombras, cheias de ninfas e de efebos desempregados, se cerrarão dulcíssimas nas chávenas, como o açúcar que mexeremos com o dedo sujo de investigar as origens da vida. III É aí que eu quero reencontrar-me de ter deixado a vida pelo mundo em pedaços repartida, como dizia aquele pobre diabo que o Minotauro não leu, porque, como toda a gente, não sabe português. Também eu não sei grego, segundo as mais seguras informações. Conversaremos em volapuque, já que nenhum de nós o sabe. O Minotauro não falava grego, não era grego, viveu antes da Grécia, de toda esta merda douta que nos cobre há séculos, cagada pelos nossos escravos, ou por nós quando somos os escravos de outros. Ao café, diremos um ao outro as nossas mágoas. IV Com pátrias nos compram e nos vendem, à falta de pátrias que se vendam suficientemente caras para haver vergonha de não pertencer a elas. Nem eu, nem o Minotauro, teremos nenhuma pátria. Apenas o café, aromático e bem forte, não da Arábia ou do Brasil, da Fedecam, ou de Angola, ou parte alguma. Mas café contudo e que eu, com filial ternura, verei escorrer-lhe do queixo de boi até aos joelhos de homem que não sabe de quem herdou, se do pai, se da mãe, os cornos retorcidos que lhe ornam a nobre fronte anterior a Atenas, e, quem sabe, à Palestina, e outros lugares turísticos, imensamente patrióticos. V Em Creta, com o Minotauro, sem versos e sem vida, sem pátrias e sem espírito, sem nada, nem ninguém, que não o dedo sujo, hei-de tomar em paz o meu café.
Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848) astronomer, sister of William; and others.
A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them
a woman ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles’
in her 98 years to discover
she whom the moon ruled
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses
Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
in those spaces of the mind
‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
from the mad webs of Uranusborg
encountering the NOVA
every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us
Tycho whispering at last
‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’
What we see, we see
and seeing is changing
the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive
Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body
The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus
I am bombarded yet I stand
I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me And has
taken I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.
friends! if i may interrupt right quick
i know y’all working, busy smoking & busy
trying not to smoke, busy with the kids & moms
& busy with alone, but i have just seen
two boys — yes, black — on bikes — also — summer children
basketball shorts & they outside shoes, wild
laughing bout something i couldn’t hear
over my own holler, trying to steady
the wheel & not hit they asses as they swerved
frienddrunk, making their little loops, sun-lotioned
faces screwed up with that first & cleanest love
we forget to name as such, &, hear me out
i’m not trying to dis lil dude, but in this gold hour
he kind of looked like Francine off
same monkey mouth & all, ole
& i say hey looking-ass boy
tho in a beautiful way, the best beautiful
same as i know all of us have looked
like something off when backlit by love. o loves,
y’all ugly asses have crowned me the worst names:
wayne brady, gay wiz khalifa, all kinds of bitches
& fags (tho only with my bitches & fags), all kinds
of shit &, once, mark of buddha that year acne
scored my forehead with its bumpy faith.
my niggas & my niggas who are not niggas
i been almost-pissed myself, almost been boxin’
been tears & snot off your dozen wonders
been the giddy swine dancing the flame.
o my many hearts, y’all booty-faced
weird-ass ole mojo-jojo-looking asses
dusty chambers where my living dwells
roast me. name me in the old ways, your shit-
talk a river i wade, howling until it takes me.
i can’t stop laughing, more river wades
down my throat. could be drowning
could be becoming the water, could be
a baptism from the inside out.
don’t save me, i don’t wanna be saved.
i’ve died laughing before, been seen
god’s face & you have her teeth, my nig.
but hers ain’t as yellow as them saffron shits
you keep stashed in your gloryfoul mouth
my friend! my friends! my niggas! my wives!
i got a crush on each one of your dumb faces
smashing into my heart like idiot cardinals into glass
but i am a big-ass glass bird, a stupid monster
crashing through the window & becoming
it just to make you laugh. Andrew used to say
friendship is so friendship & ain’t it
even after Andrew gave it on over to whatever
he was still my nigga. when they turned his body
to dust he was still my dusty-ass boy.
don’t you hear it? the dust on the fan calls me
a bum, says my hairline looks like it’s thinking
about retirement. the dust in the car says i look
like a chubby slave, says i look too drunk, takes
my keys, drives me home. the wind is tangled
with the dust of the dead homies, carrying us over
to them, giggling in the mirror. hear them. hear
your long-gone girl tease your hair on the bus. hear them
rolling when you sweep broom across the beaten floor.
i miss them. all the dead. how young. how silly
to miss what you will become. i apologize.
sometimes it just catches up in me. love
& ghost gets caught up in us like wind & birds
trapped in a sheet just the same. & my friends
is some birds, some chicken-head muhfuckas
who i would legit stomp a nigga for, do you feel me?
when they buried my nigga i put on my timbs
walked into that hot august tried to beat his name
out the dirt. i beat the earth like a nigga.
i threw hands at the earth like a punk muhfucka
& the ground chuckled, said
my nigga. what is you doing!
you can’t hear the wind drunk off the kindred lent?
can you hear that great roll from way off like a big nigga
laughing in an alley! how your dead auntie laugh
when she see you still ain’t grew into that big-ass head!
like your real friend laugh when you still the same ugly
as yesterday! same ugly as always! same ugly as their last life!
Riches I hold in light esteem
And Love I laugh to scorn And lust of Fame was but a dream That vanished with the morn– And if I pray, the only prayer That moves my lips for me Is–'Leave the heart that now I bear And give me liberty.'
Yes, as my swift days near their goal
'Tis all that I implore Through life and death, a chainless soul With courage to endure!
(March 1, 1841)