I

We need to harness the vaguely erotic disappointment that attends
the realization you aren’t being followed,
keys gripped between the fingers, ready to strike at the eyes
The after-image of byzantine gold leaf dissolving in the trees when
we emerge from the museum must be harnessed,
and the delicate carnation of the sky at the rooftop screening,
and the dress of the hostess, its exploration of formative drives

If you are anything like me, you emerge from the hospital’s automatic
doors into the heat and glare of its parking lot
unable to recall the colour of the rental or the demands of practical
reason
You surface from the subway to find it’s fully night and hard to
remember the preceding generation’s claims
for disjunction, you saw the child of a Turkish diplomat fall from a
penthouse balcony,
curled up on a floor model at the SoHo Crate & Barrel when you
received the terrible news

from a poem that probably dates from 1939, address to an adjacent
posterity
Green eyeshadow and surprising gentleness of the saleswoman who
asks if I’m OK must be harnessed if we
are to surpass camp and apathy, plain-clothes security closing in
You feel emancipated briefly from fragmentation when the D train
emerges onto the Manhattan Bridge,
vertically polarized light entering the water, seventy-six storeys of
rippled steel refusing to be actual
all at once, stand and offer your seat to an old man who isn’t there,
listen politely to his demand for a theatre
that combines distance and empathy, false proscenium lit to reveal
evaporating value, the delicate carnation that follows heat and glare

 

II

I came into the cities at a time in which the service industry employed
a swift underclass of Spanish-speaking labourers
I came into the cities when the art world’s post-medium pluralism
valorized stupidity
In the midst of weather patterns of increasing extremity, I came into
the cities, unsure if I should say gracias to the man
refilling my glass, notes of chlorine, antidepressants in trace amounts
One way was enumerating the bad forms of alienated collective
power: breathing hot particles from Japan,

bundled debt, another way was passing beyond the reach of friends,
to internalize an allegory,
tracking the dilation where aorta meets heart, minor tremor in the hand
Part of me wants to say there is a mock-oratorical mode capable of
vitalizing critical agency and part of me
wants to praise the maple’s winged samaras, the distance achieved
from the parent tree,
but mainly I want to argue they’re one thing, real if indefensible
like cities in time, spinning as they fall
My role in the slaughter doesn’t disqualify the beauty I find in all
forms of sheltered flame, little votive polis,
that I eat while others starve does not refute the promise of dimming
house lights, weird fullness of the instant
before music, that I ventriloquize when I address you is the marker of
my voice, important source
of syrup and tonewood, coming to you live

from the ellipses of compotier and vase, grave air of a masterpiece, its
notes of ozone and exhaust,
jasmine in trace amounts, tracking the dilation of new forms
of private temporality into public architecture, glass curtains as they
dim

 

III

The ideal is visible through its antithesis like small regions of warm
blue underpainting and this is its late
July realization, I’m sorry, I know you were expecting more
I’m not going to lecture the neighbour kid with the hydrant key about
conserving water for posterity
until I can think of a better idea for the spontaneous formation of
a public, however brief
By the time you read this, if you are close enough to read this, if you
are reading this
a threat to the first person was called in, prompting its evacuation,
a panic you should take advantage of
in order to compose a face, test predicates against, walk to Sunset
Park and watch the soft-winged kites
at magic hour when light appears immanent to the lit, warm blue
scattering
in the gaps between buildings and print, you can feel the content
streaming
The ideal is a kind of longitudinal subject in which the poem is a note
saying where I left you keys

and a bottle of green wine, sea-rise visible in the compound eye,
mosaic image, flicker effect
in which objects must move in order to persist, thus the preference of
bees for windblown flowers,
thus the analogy collapses like a colony, prompting its evacuation,
but the formal capacity for likening still shines
through its antithesis, feel it misfiring, vaguely erotic disappointment
that combines
distance and empathy, carnation fading from the contrails, trying
to conceive

in a ready-to-assemble bed as the metropole shifts East
I believe there is a form of apology both corporate and incantatory
that could convene the future it begs for leniency,
inherited dream you can put anything in: antithetical blue, predicate
green

 

 

Image © Wasfi Akab

Grand Rounds
Hardy Animal