The Notion of Completion

We let things die and eat our friends and family

“Frustration has become a key response to certain recent art. Frustration because the viewer is looking for a complete “idea” and is foiled. The notion of completion (i.e., self-containment) is at fault.”*

Mel Bochner

March 2021 — A vast sucking sound invades my consciousness even god dies many men are god over and over again and again confusing the prophecy smile with the pissing of one’s pants horrifying child reach down into the worksheet subconscious and pray for us — reader and read — spit the stuff of life into the dry bed of our hair

Herd of wishes tiktok cartwheeling in the 2021 pandemic rain

Look out now into the field of the poem:

An invasive, patriotic pan into an urbane shopping center in praise of everything average fire from the gods every popular poem of the last 400 years a streetcar sunrise eventually finds time to name check chicory and sage this one begins with blood moat pikeways spectacular arguments theory of riot like a match/strike and riot literary technique milk as cologne rot as physique reason generates contradictions being the moment of fixity decaying protest protein establishes work as crucible

“When it examined a work of art, materialist criticism was accustomed to ask how that work stood in relation to the social relationships of production of its time. That is an important question. But also a very difficult one.”

Walter Benjamin

My Pietà

Encyclopaedia Logica negatively rational complications of basic machine translation abstracts from the fact that every few days I dream about the staten island ferry terminal — never the ferry — cavernous poisoned with workers worriers and weasels red corona around time’s neat little rows like

I’ve taken the ladies heaped on our generation’s greatest writers and turned them first to dust then to paste then tipped in my photos look at us here in the margins singing out loud like

With a shark knife this isn’t magic but middlebrow slight of hand I hollow out the differences between things the car is always parked comically far from the party my hands are always full of papers I hope will contain valuable information my shoes are too big no one likes me I am alone my mode is survival shame let’s do the time warp like

Alive on the internet baby snails rabid preteens snapback starter caps wreathed in mycelium the message is clear get ready to floss billboards are no longer optional avon barksdale whistles like

The results of a promising life come back negative so the reader fingers across coarse vellum begins to trace the source of the information back to its etymological roots stainless steel web of memory no one will rent to a poet the dog punishes the cat anymore for being slow small and weak captain communism strikes again like

How many cows have to die after climbing into a tight high attic — red yellow green blue pink — ALL OF THEM the inscription reads SLEEVE NOT CUP followed by an 11 digit phone number not magic but martial disorder I was just looking for the bathroom but he was an entertainer with a high iq i know boo-hoo no one has said anything good about me though memory is incomplete and what is complete is corrupt like

Hallucination as savior my Pietà of language crumpled but full of etymological life in arms I watched the four, there, in the delicate black corner sprout wings no flight but possibility and strange other outcast the deep uncontemplated darkness of the eye cries like


Market Bug (Rhythmic Chirping)

I can’t stop repeating the words astra and zeneca like an incantation to our collective effigy is it big enough this elegy said brave but meant careless mad dissolving head the poets like gruesome biblical angels want what’s best for it/god

For us the hotel staff provided drugs and provided thousands of pounds of rooms but no hallways no keys the elevator was controlled from the destination floor hooligans frequently mashed the nauseous fast button mother and the first man were there Adam cut the safety line mother watched

The poet chirps rhythmically yes I let the dog bite me I ask the influencers what do you do for money and get no reply bite chomp rip stomp I mostly think about a long vacation one year to justify who I am or was meant to be a lie a list a liar a black market bug electric fingertips the kind of person who doesn’t as vocation


Og-noid the Flagrant

All we heart have beat breath hearth and got here we turn to need & formalism I’d rather buy it cheap than learn it hard Og-noid the flagrant turns toward the busy sub on main street and aims his psychosexual power What he attempts to resist what I also attempt to resist is easiness how gorgeous the hands of the clock pointing at nothing I dream of vesuvius fists against sex workers impotent rage of soldiers of consequence ponytailed picasso woman’s blood in steerage on a stream ship from Italy on canvas bills on florescent future oh heavenly heart welcome to New Jersey

The child quits as the sun provokes birds from wherever into the rhododendron below an eastern cottontail and just about a diesel truck delivers a box full of lithium ion batteries every cow walks around with its leather milk and beef eyes for the buzzards discarded bits for tossing into the dog’s bowl companionship it is spring not a symbol of spring you’ll remember this haircut long after I’m dead

We let things die and eat our friends and family

Every photo ever captured contains at least one suspect. A photo of a fish contains suspect of fisherman. A photo of mountain contains first ascender. A photo captured by code contains its coder. Every actual moment in a river is success, every photo is frustration of that river.

*”Frustration has become a key response to certain recent art. Frustration because the viewer is looking for a complete “idea” and is foiled. The notion of completion (i.e., self-containment) is at fault. What is thought and what is experienced continually replace each other. Nothing reveals itself without at the same time concealing something else. The concealed is the source of thought. And thought, which we hoped to use to “fill in the gaps,” is in itself bottomless or … incomplete. So every work is only the residue of thought’s attempt to simultaneously close itself up and its frustration at not being able to do so. The artwork, whatever “form” it might take, is the visible center of an axis connecting intention and disappointment.”

Mel Bochner

Support WNYC

revivified cicadas end dormancy
fans outside the garden at night
saying the stars hark an advertisement
for more stories
from today’s affronted vases
flank new eliminations of
doe queens
of canceled revenue
a screenshot of the dead lie
three men inside a high rate of speed
burn cash
as others
stay grand
at kill station &
terminal statistics colorized
cells from an oyster of city and state
support us or die
(repeat)