Kent Johnson (Illinois, USA): Two Poems

BAGHDAD

Oh, little crown of iron forged to likeness of imam’s face,
what are you doing in this circle of flaming inspector’s and bakers?

And little burnt dinner all set to be eaten
(and crispy girl all dressed with scarf for school),
what are you doing near this shovel for dung-digging,
hissing like ice-cubes in ruins of little museum?

And little shell of bank on which flakes of assets fall,
can’t I still withdraw my bonds for baby?

Good night moon.
Good night socks and good night cuckoo clocks.

Good night little bedpans and a trough where once there was an inn
(urn of dashed pride),
what are you doing beside little wheelbarrow
beside some fried chickens?

And you, ridiculous wheels spinning on mailman’s truck,
truck with ashes of letter from crispy girl all dressed with scarf for school,
why do you seem like American experimental poets going nowhere
on little exercise bikes?

Good night barbells and ballet dancer’s shoes
under plastered ceilings of Saddam Music Hall.

Good night bladder of Helen Vendler and a jar from Tennessee.
(though what are these doing here in Baghdad?)

Good night blackened ibis and some keys.
Good night, good night.

(And little mosque popped open like a can, which same as factory of
flypaper has blown outward, covering the shape of man with it (with
mosque): He stumbles up Martyr’s Promenade. What does it matter
who is speaking, he murmurs and mutters, head a little bit on fire.
Good night to you too.)

Good night moon.
Good night poor people who shall inherit the moon.

Good night first editions of Das Kapital, Novum Organum,
The Symbolic Affinities between Poetry Blogs and Oil Wells
,
and the Koran.

Good night nobody.

Good night Mr. Kent, for now you must
soon wake up and rub your eyes and know that you are dead.

from Homage to the Last Avant-Garde, (Shearsman, UK)

[GAZA] EXCEEDS ITS OBJECT

I want to be in the class of people who did…the thing that met the aesthetic of the moment.
Douglas Feith, Under-Secretary of Defense, as quoted in the New Yorker

Come off it, Tha’lab, you faker, you kadhib,
yes, very funny, but for goodness sake,
just put back those purple bowels in your tummy—
you’ll be late for work!

Make haste, Safia, you little scamp, you pig-tailed qasida,
put that fat flap of scalp back on your crown—
now’s not the hour for teenage pranks,
it’s time to go to school!

Ah, quit moaning Miss Al-Sayab, you muwashshara,
we know that fetus hanging from your bottom is a rubber trick—
we’re not stupid, you know, so cease being crass,
and get ye to market!

Cut the crap, Nizar, you iltizam,
pick that torso up and put it back on your dancing spine—
we know that old box and mirror trick,
now get thee to prayers!

Hey, Rashid, you al-nahda,
we know you love the special effects of Hollywood movies,
but it’s not safe to make yourself into a geyser of fire—
and anyway, you’re supposed to be accompanying the inspectors!

Say there, little Samih, you shirnur,
six-month-olds aren’t supposed to be able to fly—
so get down from those power lines and gather
your legs and head on the ground here, you naughty child!

Listen, Tawfiq, you tafila,
OK, so you’re a sorry-assed academic with a Ba’ath mustache,
but put your brains back into your head, you can’t fool us by calling in sick—
it’s time for class and your students are ablaze!

Yo bro, my main man Bashad, you tradiyyat,
you’re as if dead and white as marble, but there’s not a scratch on your body—
quit fucking around, the mosque is rubble,
make the siren light flash and spin on your ambulance!

Greetings Ahmad, you badi-kamriyyat,
put your face back and also that water pipe hose thing back into your belly—
yeah, boo hoo, so your kid died of dysentery…
Suck it up! The price is worth it!
Now pick up that basket of sweet fruits and gum!

Good morning, Mrs. al-Jurjani, you madin,
author of four essays on postmodern currents in American poetry,
what are you howling and wailing like that for, hitting your skull
against the flagstones like a mechanical hammer?
A horse is a horse, and if a horse is dead, a horse is dead—
More so, you are naked, which is unbecoming of a lady your age and standing.
Like Hamlet, your emotion is unconvincing, for it exceeds its object.
Therefore, we beseech thee: Show some gratitude, and put a plug in it.

© Kent Johnson 2008/2009

Daniel Borzutzky (Chicago, USA): Two Poems

ONE SIZE FITS ALL

See that immigrant freezing beneath the bridge: he needs a blanket.

See that Torah scroll from the 16th century: it sprawls on the floor like a deadbeat; the Jews need to wrap it in a schmatte.

The problem, you see, is “exposure.”

The poet forgot to shake off his penis and pee dripped on the manuscript that he submitted to the 2007 University of Iowa Poetry Prize.

The literary scholar took off his tie and lectured the class on the post-humanoid implications of the virtual cocktail.

He put a pistol on his desk and told the students he was going to kill himself if they didn’t do their homework.

Everything in his “worldview” was exposed.

The data-entry specialist imagined new forms for the senior administrator who was only a temporary carcass, an anti-poem: a budding literary movement that communed with master works by committing suicide while reading them.

The temporary carcass of the bureaucrat, dry as Vietnamese Jerky, called out for “gravy” as it “peppered” the eloquent field of syntax.

Abrupt exposure to ordinary language may result in seriously compromised intelligence, implied the carcass as he lipped the trembling lily which hid the police officer, who said: if you look at me one more time I’m going to zap you with my Taser gun.

Abrupt exposure to gateway bureaucracy may result in apocalyptic equivocation, implied the carcass as he dreamed of nomadic man-eaters with a language all their own.

I liked the former “Language Poet” for the speech act he attached to the back of my book, which reminded me of Charles Olson on human growth hormones.

The problem, said the critic, remains one of imagination and its insistence on the distinction between thought and action.

“I let him touch my wooden leg,” she said, “and when I unscrewed it I was stuck legless in the hay.”

Which is to say that the detachable penis is was and has always been compatible with family values.

“He was a seriously hardworking boy with a fetish for glass eyes and wooden legs,” she said, “and I really really loved him.”

The poetry era reached its nadir as the housing market plummeted, said the professor, as he repeated for the umpteenth time the anecdote about the boy who met an underwater woman as old as the hills.

“Does Poetry live here,” he asked. “Poetry lives here,” she replied, “but he will chop you up and kill you, and then he’ll cook you and eat you.”

My ideal reader has neither a name, a body, nor an online profile.

Which is not to say that I am not concerned with customer satisfaction.

Dear Reader, Because we value your input, please take a moment of your busy time to answer the following question, which will greatly assist us in our mission to produce cultural artifacts that will further meet your aesthetic and spiritual needs.

Which of these statements most accurately reflect your feelings about the writing you have just read:

a) This is a splendid poem, distinguished by the clarity of its thought, the force of its argument, and the eloquence of its expression.

b) This poem is conceptually vapid, artistically shallow, and contributes nothing to the world of letters. It is little more than a collection of bad sentences and poorly formed ideas.

c) I like this poem, but I wouldn’t spend money to read more poems like it.

d) When I read this poem, I feel frustrated and annoyed.

e) When I read this poem, I feel nothing.



BUDGET CUTS PREVENT ME FROM WRITING POETRY


You say I wish to create a universe that is an insane asylum

But I am only one American and the planets are all on Quaaludes

And the baby is in the bassinet and the eggs are in their baskets

And the semen are in their testicles and Hamlet is a faceless robot who is president of the rotary

And the myth where I am dying from abuse of language

Is ascending and descending at the same time

I’d tear myself to shreds to prevent you from calling me a poet

Or even an anti-poet for I am the apropos of nothing

And I am the check this box for all of the above

And I am a smudged-out image of Joan of Arc praying in a toxic rainstorm

And I am in myself more than I know myself

And me and I are the ideal couple

And as we seduce each other we think of Kim Jong-Il making love to a Swedish prostitute in a barbed-wire cage

And we think of vital organs for sale on eBay

And we refuse to Google ourselves because we do not want to know what the world thinks of the binary system we have become

And we think of monads and visual simulacra

And Daffy Duck is a gigantic tarantula crawling through the famished roads of ambiguity, where a bearded man with bulging pockets asks if I’m a poet

I vomit a poem onto a stack of bloody cows and win a Pushcart Prize

And for a split second nothing stays the same until we flail into the simile of history.


© Daniel Borzutzky 2009

Gabriel Gudding (Illinois, USA) and Adam Fieled (Editor, Philly, USA): Waxing Hot

AF: You write, in Rhode Island Notebook, that "most literature is delusional, pretty, petty, and false." It seems like the composition of R.I.N. might have been a concerted, specific attempt to write something realistic, gritty, pertinent and true. Something, in other words, that transcends the artificiality of most literature. Is there a grain of truth to this?

GG: Maybe. Most poetry is a kind of verbal costume. An ideational schmaltz. An emotional uniform. A mental getup. This is just as true for avant garde and post-avant work as it is for mainstream stuff. Though I don't think the costumed life or the costumed mind is peculiar to poetry, necessarily, as a genre, it's no secret poetry tends more toward stylization than other modes. Poetry is the country music of literature. Given to schmaltz, nostalgia, over extension, socio-emotional reactivity, and alienation from material reality. The flipside is the hipster reaction to this: flaff, whathaveyou, langpo, N/Oulipian generativity (hipster maximalist masculinist compulsive text generation), irony as a modal approximation of self-awareness, and a conflation of experiment in form with soi-disant radical politics (the result being merely a more extravagant quietism). Our capacity for delusion is almost total.

AF: OK. I’m curious to what extent these kind of thoughts might have directed the composition of R.I.N. You include heaping gobs of concrete particulars: times, distances, amounts of gas, temperatures, highway and town names. Do you feel that these details “naturalize” the book somehow, give it stable/solid/palpably non-delusional roots?

GG: Good question. Not sure if they're less delusional but I can say they are less stylized. Maybe they do something not often done in poetry. These are the local details of your average person's world, least ways of my world. I wanted to include that stuff. Just the attempt to write the in-between, overlooked, peripheral -- as a part of the greater truths, larger narratives, and more overt emotionality of most poetry. Not sure if these elements naturalize the book, but my hope is the sum total makes for a book that does not much move via typical poetry modalities. There is that huge long section around page 90 or so where I wrote down ALL the signs I saw from Ohio through Indiana and into Illinois. Horrifying. We *READ* all that stuff: it affects us. It moves us. It makes us. We need to become aware of that. I feel it needs to be in our literature. It is an important part of our disgusting history. I really do conceive of the book as a history. My daughter Clio was named for the muse of history. The book is dedicated to her.

AF: It is interesting that you allude to history, because the book not only documents itself via concrete, particular travel details, but via an engagement with the history of poetry. I think one of the most interesting aspects of this are the pastiche-poems included, which take on Gerard Manley Hopkins. It seems like you were taking Hopkins’ purity and religiosity and “humorizing” them, not in a malicious or sardonic way, but playfully and tenderly. How do you think that, in the context of RIN, poetry history intersects with “our disgusting history”? In other words, you deal, in RIN, with several different kinds of history. I take "our disgusting history" as a reference to the ugliness of American highways: of roads, paved surfaces, road-signs. Your engagement with Hopkins is a nod to a different kind of history, a cultural one. Your book then becomes a kind of textual site where different histories intersect. What would you imagine to be the cumulative effect of these colliding histories? How did you envision these histories coming together, both for yourself as you were writing and for the reader? Was there an intended cumulative effect, something you were trying to show and/or demonstrate?


GG: There was a hoped for cumulative effect. But much was arrived at, discovered, in the writing. And the book became in one sense oppositional to the idea that the imagination is a refuge. We are told by poets for the last two hundred twenty years there is some kind of glorious refuge in imagination, imagination is this transcendent, palliative kingdom: the safety and order in the supreme fiction, the imagination as oasis, a good poem as a Wallace Stevens' Memorial vacation get-away, and that this capacity of fantasy is some kind of "palace of wisdom." This is complete bunk. Absolute delusion. It's the intellectual equivalent of tourism: the knowing, willful engagement in the delusive economy of deflected escape. It makes sense that Stevens constitutes the pinnacle of this romantic ideal -- as his poetics is strongly related to the rise of modern tourism. Where Stevens thought he was speaking of the nature of mind and imagination and its relation to reality, he was in fact writing deeply classicist and racist poetry. This book stakes an oppositional poetics to Stevens, Ginsberg, Spicer, Ashbery, siding with Loy, Lola Ridge, Rakosi, Niedecker. I wanted to write the kitsch, the radio, the a-magical, the quotidia of civic life, the road sign -- things normally kept from poetry -- as a means of reminding myself how much stuff we IGNORE in order to pretend to touch the real or the supreme – or “the mind,” as if the mind were this Ashberian numinous burning collagic machine of lyricism.

AF: This question, of what is real, and may be realistically portrayed in literature, can lead in many different directions. What I'm curious about is how it ties in for you with the idea of privilege. In lots of schmaltzy poetry, we see a privileged, patriarchal figure having some kind of epiphany. However, in fighting against this attitude, willfully structuring your poem so that ephemeral elements (road-signs, McDonald's, radio) take a prominent position, can it be argued that you are enacting a different form of the same privileged status? That is, do you find yourself to be in the position of telling the reader "what's really real"? Was an effort made to efface or subsume the (male) ego and its drive to direct, control, dominate?

GG: It’s a fair question. Sure, that could be argued. Anything can be argued. But the book is not a case for the real, the true; it’s not even, to my mind, a comment on “the poetic.” What it is, for me, in its largest dimension, is the story of a family falling apart and a nation going insane. Those are mysteries. Ridiculously huge and never-ending conundra. I don’t know how a nation goes insane. And though I know how a family falls apart, the WAY that is does so is a deep, terrifying mystery. At an ethical level, though, it’s a book about suffering and how to endure it – and in fact how to flourish in it. At an aesthetic level, it is textured by what Bakhtin calls "primary speech genres" (road signs, radio utterances, bumper stickers, the makeshift reality of internal mental dialogue, embarrassing first draft crap), the book is perforce built on speech realities that fall outside what Bakhtin calls official speech. It is overtly badly stylized (poorly realized) speech. But nowhere does it touch on the nature of the real. It’s just proffering the other things often left out of a book, a history, a politics, an organized “life”: buildings the size of dust motes, blurry towns smeared into a chain of ramps and roadside islands. It says nothing about the way these things exist, just that they might. The towns we see from the road might exist. The people in the Hardees might exist. The rest stops might exist. The jerk in the adjacent car might. Your hands on the steering wheel might too. A way out of my sorrow might exist. A way out of literature might exist.

But at bottom the book (for me) is about the navigation of sorrow: how to anchor instead of grasp; how to sail instead of let go. I have no idea what it is for someone else. For my daughter Clio, I had hoped it would be a history, a partial history of what was happening to her family during a time of great sorrow.

AF: Partly I think it’s the affectivity of the book which makes it so compelling. Without easing into sentimentality, it tells a real, heart-rending story in a narrative that’s not always strictly linear, but that is traceable. However, the trend in the academy now is all towards New Historicism: tying literature in to larger historical patterns that dictate the behavior and production habits of authors, albeit sometimes unconsciously, or subconsciously. If, where this book is concerned, you had to New Historicize yourself, how would you do it? Can you tie the affectivity of a “time of great sorrow” into a prevalent, comprehensible Zeitgeist?

GG: First, thank you for seeing the affective nature of it in that light. It’s heartening to know you’ve read it so well. Second, I see New Historicism as a literary *reception* movement coming to vogue in the late '80s and rising out of inter- and intra-disciplinary concerns about how to read (and write critically about) literature. I do not see it as a movement much affecting *production* concerns. So, the book is a history -- which is not to say it was affected particularly by current trends in literary historiography.

But I see more what you're asking now -- and I wouldn't call what you're asking me to do particularly "new historicism." Seeing the connections between "personal troubles" and "public issues" is precisely what C. Wright Mills, the great renegade sociologist, calls having a useful "sociological imagination." It's just good sociology. The book's appositions of national narratives and personal ones implicitly make this connection -- sometimes uncannily. For instance, the day the driver's family decides on "divorce" is the day the US begins the invasion of Iraq. It's a coincidence, yes, but it's clear that the larger socio-emotional climate affects a family's weather. What a horrifying time in our history.

AF: Dovetailing with this, I’d like to bring up the larger issue of historicity, as it applies to your (and all of our) endeavors. How important do you think it is for poets in our day and age to develop, hone, and maintain a historical sense, both as regards their own reading and their literary production? To state this more clearly: is it worthwhile to regard ourselves as players in a potentially historical drama, or do you believe it more productive to (I’m paraphrasing Joyce) awake from the nightmare of history?

GG: I guess my answer depends on what you mean by "historical sense." I have a few friends, as well as a few former friends, who believe, despite their obscurity and in some cases because of their fame, that they are writing for the ages, who think history will exonerate them or uphold them, who feel their current lack of recognition will eventually be transmuted by play of decades into a trans-temporal audience or who feel their present recognition is logical and was inevitable. That's delusional. But both constitute a common pose, a frequent tactic, and a conventional gambit -- the former especially I'd guess commonly seen among non-bourgeois writers. Bourdieu addresses this well in The Field of Cultural Production. It's either delusion, on the one hand, or an expedient of aesthetic politics, on the other.

But if you mean is it a good idea to just try to have a relatively global sense of what's been written and why it's been written, then yes I think that's wise.

AF: Can you parlay your “global sense” into a précis of where you think poetry is going in 2008? Is “post-avant”, in all its amorphousness, a viable entity and a worthy successor to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, or do you feel there are other currents currently existent that could lead experimental (or even mainstream) poetry down new, unexplored vistas?

GG: It's an interesting question. But I wonder about its intent. You seem to be suggesting that having a "global sense" about what's been written and what's being written necessarily implies having a market sense about what's the Next Hip Thing. Maybe I’m putting words in your mouth. Likely I have. In any case I feel that trying to know or trying to control the direction of the field is part of what Bourdieu calls the production of a collective misrecognition--a belief in "literature." This manufactured "cusp" or foreguard is the site upon which the struggle for the monopoly of symbolic power concentrates. It's not a matter of direction (where the field is going); it's a matter of the illusion of direction created by continual literary rebranding (done in interviews, blog posts, anthologies, reviews, manifestoes, movements, etc).

I mean, basically there have been over the past 150 years a limited range of techniques that just keep getting relabeled and rebranded: collage becomes "cut up" becomes "flarf" or "flirph" or whatever it's called now; disjunctive anacoluthon becomes what William James called "automatic writing" and Stein takes that into cubist dada which is then rebranded via a different set of theoretical apparatuses (Frankfurt School) as L=A=N....; a hodgepodge of sleep-based techniques and collaborative aleatoric methods morph (thank goodness) with oppositional leftist politics into surrealism which then meld with the rightist political quietism of late modernism into deep image and ...?

This is a market. Markets need a predictive mindset. If "art" and "writing" cannot divest itself of this fascination with symbolic exchange-value in favor of a use-value, it will continue to be just another inverted extension of the economic system.

Too, markets need a projected null point that serves to mask the manufacture of collective misrecognition: the new; imagination; the originary; celebrity and celebration.

Is it possible to write and to think about writing in ways that do not create and maintain hierarchies of artistic domination and power? Is it possible to write without belief in a universe of celebrants and believers? Is it okay to write without thinking oneself a potential
object of celebration? And after having written, is it possible not to vie for status as a consecrated writer or as a writer who displays his own performative disinterest in the field of production?

AF: You seem to be commenting, with a somewhat negative slant, on the phenomenon of literature as a market-place, a zone of commodities, advertisements, and perpetuated illusions. You have also pointed out a kind of fallacious veneer to the rationale of your friends and ex-friends that shun the spotlight, but dare to believe that their work might have lasting value. Do you see a contradiction here? In other words, if the literary market-place is not a desirable locale, and if obscurity is also not a desirable locale, is there a happy medium or a third realm that you find preferable, or that could balance the two?

GG: Adam, not to be obtuse, but I'm not sure what you mean by "viable." Or even what is meant by "post avant." The imaginary gestalt Silliman labeled "post avant" is I think a multipurpose fiction about which little can be said and a lot can be asserted. And that's the term's power. It's what Uwe Poerksen calls a plastic word: florid in connotation, imprecise in denotation.

But even if I did know what a post avant movement was, I probably wouldn't be qualified to answer your question about where it's going. I am not a believer in the dream of literature or the salutary originary power of the imagination or the notion that new stuff is best stuff: it's all new stuff. We just choose to fetishize some of it. Whether one movement follows another successfully is really of little interest to me. Whether writing is useful - is to my mind a more salient question. So I don't see a third realm possible. There are no possible realms.

As to whether I think of my more ardent poet friends or acquaintances as "fallacious": no. I don't think of people caught within the dream of literature fallacious. I just think they are following the logic of the game they find themselves in. Part of that logic is belief -- believing in the religion of literature -- and part of that is the pretense not to believe. Performative indifference is part of an avant garde (or, as it's called now, "post avant") symbolic economy, just as the dream of what you call "lasting value" is part of a more established symbolic/financial economy of letters. And the machine has to turn: margin to center; acoustic to electric; Alan to Golding; outlaw to classic. The two different non-desirable-locales, as you call them, depend on each other. Sure you can find a viable third realm if you believe in Santa Claus. And lots of people do -- and one can make the flock move this way or that way: there are lots of tactics and strategies for planting one's brand. Take your pick. One can form a group, a "movement" -- or go it alone and play the transgressor, the outlaw, the shaman, versions of the sacred heretic: all of these things work. They each have their tactical logic. None of it matters.

I was speaking of a kind of manufactured cusp, a fabricated verbal frontier that we are encouraged to accept as real and even necessary. So, that third realm you speak of is always the next big thing: it is the cusp, the bubble, the next wave. Your question was "where [I] think poetry is going...," specifically whether the term post avant is a "viable... and worthy successor" to langpo. It's the same impulse relabeled. Langpo was not itself a viable and worthy successor to confessionalism, nor it to modernism, nor it to the Victorian era, nor it to the literature of post-1848 American democratic nationalism.

But then again, I don't believe time exists either. So take the previous for what it's worth to you.

Instead of where post avant poetry is going, I find myself these days wondering about why the Flarf movement is so white. Why "post avant" poetries are so white. Why is the Chicago innovative writing scene so white? Why for instance is there so little crossover between the scene surrounding the Palabra Pura reading series in Chicago and the experimental scene (Myopic series or Series A or Danny's Tavern). Why has there historically been so few women in the European and North and Latin American avant garde poetry scenes? Why is the spoken word scene at Nuyorican so much more ethnically and culturally diverse than the St Mark's crowd and why is the spoken word scene in Chicago whiter than white? Why did so few "experimental" poets write anti-war poems? How are some so sycophantic: why do they need an iterative white transgressive hero, a Ginsberg, a Spicer, a Berrigan, an Ashbery? or a white masculinely safe heroine, Stein, Moore, Bishop. Why do people keep reading the same writers over and over, even when they're ridiculously boring and shticky and predictable (Ashbery) or they know their poems by heart already? Why do so few study the anthropology and/or sociology of literary scenes?

AF: I agree that white hegemony within the poetry world is, in and of itself, an "undesirable locale," if we want to posit a state-of-affairs as a kind of place. How do you visualize a bridge being made, that might enable a multi-cultural element to be added to the present scenario (sorry for the buzz-word, couldn't resist)? Do you have any strategies that might enable the poetry world to broaden its cultural scope? You teach at ISU; do you buy in to the "think globally act locally" approach, and are there approaches you take in the context of your classroom that reflect an interest in manifestations of diversity, cultural heterogeneity, and the deflection of an assumed, white male canon?

GG: I guess I don't know that I have any answers beyond the obvious, which I offer at the risk of sounding like any of the following is easy: make on the one hand a pointed self-examination (as best as one is able to actually do that) about motives and influences and biases in order to uncover where I might be denying myself some really amazing work; study the sociology and anthropology of literature to better grow beyond the neoromantic fetish of authorship and the modernist fetish of text; and reach outward and into other writing cultures. I think we make/join/encourage hegemonies/big.samenesses because of our incessant habit of valuation. By which I mean we often seem to need/want things to be the same, or enough the same, so that we can better evaluate what surrounds us (or at least exercise/display our discerning taste) rather than constantly dealing with things/situations that defy/challenge our perceptual categories. And so those are some outward-directed practices that will help. But it’s important not to stop there. It’s important to understand that our very affect has broadranging political effects. Cultivate affiliative mindstates. Be willing not to be cool. By which I mean, notice and resist the play of power in the field of cultural production, understanding that hipness is merely a performative resistance that is itself a tactic, often marked by sarcasm, used to acquire cultural capital. Cultivate an interpersonal responsiveness and then retain that capacity to be surprised. Easy, right?

I think a really fruitful way of doing the above is to develop a loving heart. A loving heart is an open heart. An open heart catalyzes a flourishing, courageous mind. I do think Emerson is right when he says in "Friendship” that "our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection.


© Gabriel Gudding/Adam Fieled 2009

Daniela Olszewska (Chicago, USA): from Citizen Jane

JANE refuses to keep things
classy. She swings that hellish
hand basket of hers toandfro
like a dank demonette.

Orphaned and alkalized, we can
only stand her in increments.
And even then, sorely. A bag
of pseudo-genes with scarlet-ish

tail, JANE is treasonably feasible.
It is clear that she suffers
from delusions of personality.
A maladjusted grandeur.

Hands stylishly gunpowdered,
JANE is burgeoning intolerably –
All full on addendum.
All full on according to plan.

..........................


JANE frequently lets loose –
throws operatic tantrums
on the road with our mobile
yellowcake factories.

She splits the genome in half.
A jading of anchors.
She splits the phalanx in thirds.
A real piece of land, mine.

JANE lassoes. JANE ricochets.
She compromises the integrity
of structures. Concretely.
With a little help from

your more radical elements.

.........................


With a face like that.
In a time like this.
JANE sits in a tree.
A fruit-bearing one.

She affixes herself.
Sedulously gemstoned.
And camo-clad, she peels
the skin off her nose.

Spitefully. Thinks to herself
that she is not so much
a people person as she is
a person person.

A serious liability,
covering for a twist
of green and brown
grooved grenade.

.....................


In the midst of dressing up
to go messing up
the magistrate’s new curtains,

JANE takes to the notion
that the inside of her toaster
is miked. She’d consult her pet

genie, but he is miked too.
Wired to heads that can store
more than the traditional three

seconds worth. JANE resolves
to take distance. Thus she takes
haste with ignition and several cans of.

..............................


JANE ducks down.
JANE gooses up.

She pretends to play
dead. Under a dumpster

twenty limbic miles
south of Dodge,

JANE asphyxiates
her codecracker parts.

A need to be forcibly
forgotten: JANE wraps up in

her lucky pilot-like jacket
trimmed in two of the best

animals her god
-father, the Kaliningrad

zookeeper willed her upon
his death bedlam.

......................


JANE is this month’s
designated example.
We love but don’t
like her for it.

Aluminum-banded
and wielding hand
-made hatchets,
we rig JANE’s head up

with proper sedation
helmet. We barbwire
igloos over JANE’s
hexagram-heavy chest.

We siphon off the bad blood.
Because home is where the heart is.
And JANE’s heart is in need
of some serious moving.

Some serious beating clean.

........................


We bombsheltered JANE off.
An overwashed brain.
With two too many.
teeth, JANE cannot
tessellate in red
(in any color)
until she starts calling us
daily just to check in.
Until she starts explaining things
in terms of volts.
In terms of proffering
gracefully.

....................


JANE has come to love echelon.
To appreciate minefield.
JANE archives the –cides.
Atlases the pogroms.
Things being as they are
nowadays. JANE’s advantage
is plaque-able, is trebly Plutonian.
JANE pares the universe down
to a manageable eight.
She is always aiming to please.
Well-trained in good –manship,
she lives in panoptic view.
JANE fulminates, but calmly.
Her heart beats but legibly.
Is not blushing. In thigh high
chambers, JANE is all perfect
timing, ablaze with gametes.

© Daniela Olszewska 2009

Ada Limon (NYC, USA): Three Poems

LEAVING FOR LEAVING’S SAKE

Packing the car as if they were punctuating
an old song with too-loud drumbeats,
she thought the word suitcase seemed
old-fashioned and she was not of this era.
She was her mother's mother, her kissing
mouth turned into a tight twist of, We're
moving too slowly, we're losing.
He slammed the trunk with a final cymbal
crash and she folded into the sound, the song
they made boiled up its own lyrics, said,
Bring me the road, bring me the thick-black
of nothing, let me swallow the asphalt,
eat that yellow line until it splits me in two.



ROADKILL

White car. Woman who looks like
the librarian from elementary school.
Dead squirrel. Rogue redwood. Glare
of every big bad sunrise's pressure
to keep alive. Stick-shift. Radio.
This is called what? Living. A little
unkind invitation to meet an end-point,
to push through this small town's
generated hum and see someone else's
gas station, someone else's dead squirrel
and name it, found.


THE EQUATION FOR EMPTINESS

She rests her head on the window wet
with breath and fog just outside
the Harris Ranch on Interstate 5.
She remembers her mother's head
hanging low in her hands at a
rest stop around here somewhere,
her face having lost its scaffolding
of Okay, we're all okay, and fallen.
Peel of wind, she pictures the velocity
equation. One must have speed
and direction to calculate anything.
What do we push through? And where to?
In her brain's engine too many past
tenses drag their heavy feet in black
tunnels, slow the globe's spin.
She wants to be empty, the night
before it's broken by an owl's screech,
that one moment at dawn at some
roadside Red Lion Inn where you
forget where you are, and how far
you've come to get there, your mind
gone white-hot clean before thousands
of wet hands, the fat lip at the reservoir,
the closet floor, the dead cat, the dead,
come in and enter with the blinds pulled
back. She thinks she could go farther
faster without the drag of what she carries;
nothing but her body's own quiet
insistence to accelerate.

© Ada Limon 2009

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