Mz N tries
each day very hard
to be contemporary
One must be
absolutely
contemporary
they’ve harangued
her for over
a hundred years
& who is she
to object?
She admires
after all
beyond Rimbaud
Yvonne Rainer
who in an interview
somewhere sd something like
I am so happy
to have been able to be
contemporary
or was it she was happy
to have made an art
wholly contemporary?
Well.
You’re too young
to think so much
Yvonne sd
to Mz N
about death
Mz N felt oddly
abashed but what to do
You thought
whatever you thought
about. That’s an evasion
the cognitive therapists
could flush out
of Mz N very swiftly
with their meta-mind techniques
and surely Zen Buddhists
and their American epigones would also say
let the thought pass through                         
just observe the thought as it passes
That was one
of many mistakes
Mz N kept making she held on
to a thought
as to the sharp end
of a knife
which puts her in mind
of an old Setswana proverb
Ellen Kuzwayo taught her
Mmangoana o tshwara thipa ka fa bogaleng
the child’s mother grabs
the sharp end of the knife
but Mz N was not a good
enough mother to her thoughts
They raged and sliced
her barely surviving for years until
they didn’t. A thought
isn’t irrevocable
Arendt sd Only action
Mz N would take action
against her thoughts
You think
too much her sister
sd which meant
why don’t you
chill out?
Why
not?
Mz N
was no riot grrrl
there was no club
she could join to align
herself with weird sisters
or brothers. The three
punkish kids in high school
were heroes
in her private pantheon
but they like odd gods
were remote
as a loon calling
from a far Adirondack
lake. O there’s a loon
on the lake I look at
right here right now
Now I am being contemporary
I can bring the now
right into this poem
& when I say
as I now do
with how sad steps
o moon thou climb’st the skies
I am still very contemporary
which is to say
I am alive
as long as this poem
I & the loon & the moon are alive

 

All the artists
Mz N knows
who are alive want to be
contemporary
It takes effort
to be contemporary
simply being alive
doesn’t cut it
One artist made a piece
‘This is so contemporary’
which is elegant
and funny like him Tino
Sehgal a piece both contemporary
and a critique
of the enforcement of the law
of the soon-to-be-obsolete-
now which consumer
culture and deep structural
forces of finance capital
sustain or so Mz N’s been told
O tempora o mores!
Dance and political economy
and game theory are intricate
choreographies of the now.
Critique is dead
Poetry is dead
Tino told her
no one in Europe reads books
It is contemporary
to ironize the contemporary
but in a light way
no one bothers
anymore with the past
There is no longer an Oedipal
pathos or rage to fuel the now
sprung from the paternal then
Sometimes depth
is just depth
Brecht sd
to Benjamin when depth
was still an option
Mz N’s deep
inwardness
is positively
German an unfashionable
Innerlichkeit
best cordoned off
in the foreign
dead field of lyric
Inwardness
an effect of repression
but hey
Don’t fence me in!
the little dogie
of Mz N’s soul
cried to the postmodern
cowboys lassoing
up the language
of reference & branding
it for sale
Sometimes Mz N even feels
conceptual
What is a concept
What is a conceptual artist
An artist
with a concept
Some days
one can’t help being Horace
& writing
an ars poetica

 

All day
Mz N has been eating cherries
of a kind she first saw
in Cambridge 1989ish
when her friend Polly
with higher standards for fruit and men
and clothes went to the beautiful shop
on Huron Avenue and bought
these golden cherries
I now eat
as my memory is the fact
of my being alive
& her & you too
& the cherry ripe
I gave my love and that stone
I gave my love still ring
that song that cherry song
still ripe in our live mouths

 

Cover Photograph © Michael Colburn, Abstract Cherry Blossoms III

Blade Culture
The Landlady