Bolaño

poets exaggerate
everything you
needed to
know about

me back
then could
be summed
up thusly

coming upon
a page
underlined by
amazon’s popular

highlights feature
in whatever
kindle book
I was

reading knocked
me off
course every
time knowing

that 22
people had
previously highlighted
this passage

in Bolaño
about young
poets and
old whores

ripped the
soft cotton
stuffing out
of my

chest it
stunk of
the path
most travelled

old sneakers
the bubba
gump shrimp
in times

square selfie
sticks at
la sagrada
familia last

evenings on
earth fireworks

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)

Art Reality Freshly Preserved, Produced and Tinned in Milan, May 1961

hung in the shadows
on the western wall
emerald cone boasting corona
of dipped lunatic cotton fails
serially with each attempt
(once every three minutes)
to intellect through short
dire sentences despite being broken into
labium labrum maxillae and mandible
the discourse remains functional
powered up and spread warm butter like the sun
like the museum’s most popular gallery
quantitatively as the reader fails
to consider commerce here the radical mage conjures
a million jerry saltzs dehydrate mutants
no geiger counter for this
kind of subjective observation
through a starbucks window
clearly the majority look onward and upward
while elements class traitors sift
form from function and some nonzero number
of postdocs see a leg and writhe in pain and some
nonzero number of highly marketable postdocs see a shark
skin wallet and movement becomes impossible
consider minus zero as a vector of possibility

a long time ago lived a lengthy brass ladder
known for lying who unscrewed
an exit sign named piero manzoni
the ladder was high as fuck and craved a little zappo
critical discourse emerged simultaneously from the academic journals
commonly read by building inspectors
widely known to be bad men damp
men with all sorts of wicked contradictions hammers
hardhats marshmallows cargo shorts and bibles held
to account hauled up by their judith butler-lookin lobes
tonight is the night it is impossible to judge these men
at this hour but long ago judges went unmoored
a mythological tap of little sausages enticing a blue arc
back then everything was faked
everything was cheated an ounce or two everything
surreptitiously observed and tweaked
their values modified until reality
felt just about right

without transubstantiation of the aphid
this reality slithers from open space to open source
its brand much improved especially popular
among college educated white liberals aged 18-24
who earn each rostrum feeds then snaps predictably
with a super majority obeying basic digital commands
retweet unfollow promote accept all
the role of the curator has changed
for the wurst since wuhan

impish discursive corona dip
thineself ankle deep
into serious intellect
unbreak your reader
fall from function
into a nonzero bouquet of legs
move only when movement becomes impossible

my love
uploaded virus
unlocked door
can of the artist’s shit
save my planet
one salsiccia at a time


Contains a modified line boosted from VFX artist Matthew Wilde in Simone de Rochefort’s article “Why the bottles in Half-Life: Alyx look so dang good,” published Jan 6, 2021, on Polygon.

Lawler’s Warhol’s Monroe’s MoMA’s America’s Land

ankle was zoloft
bush was yearling
cock was xyzzyx
diode was warlord
escarole was violence
frigid was uvula
god was tired and true
hush was sacrifice
ingenuous was ritual
jigger was quake
kallyope was paris
limp was oaf
mopping was numerology
nuke was murder
oatmeal was luxury
prosthetic was kaput
quarantine was jewel
rhizome was intimate
sweat was hearse
trout was gallup
ulcer was function
viagra was earthworm
wagner was death
xenograft was coloring book
yarrow was backlit
zambia was appropriation

Vicious Mercy (Vermeer in Death Valley, 2020)

Leave Vermeer alone.

When I write The girl is dying I do not mean to enter the girl nor deconstruct her state of abstract goingness.

It’s a figure beyond an open window in a time of plague.

Disemboweled skywriting or the family name forgotten in water.

Which is to say: Vicious mercy becomes the uncountable gallop of the ruddy horse forging the sandy horizon.

Let the creature offenses stand in beauty among their rare pigments.

Honeycut, should I fail to mention light — What kind of poet is this? — but here!

Look!

Cherry and evergreen ring the moon like a bell unrung, you see them or don’t.

These next few moments of balance determine your eligibility for brief happiness.

Remember first to crucify the middle-ground; translucent, gathered up, mercurial, for modernity.

Mobility.

Into sun-sucked ink, oil, platinum, I vandalize form.

You, widely recognized as a modular prophet, briefly part the asbestos curtain.

Who, among these long-ago minted currencies, profits from the quietus of pulped paupers?

Ultramarine, of course, picked up and deposited here at my feet like seed, forms the reticulated reach of your life.

They do.

When they’re gone they’re gone.

Something else, especially if this chaotic rest goes unexamined.

Time lays a recursive trap in which most get caught.

From the Old English for eye-hole.

The skin that threatens to scream in from its triangular sleep, vanishing from the fog of natural history, just as quickly as it had long-ago been shed.

You suddenly appear vaulted and the sun is beautiful.

My favorite spot across the entire desert.

I am describing the man who offers the creature, spoken into long-to-go life, a bucket of sewing needles.

Mostly I see your bones and saddle.

Faithful reader, a sharp splash of light on the cheek come, potential space for potential space.

The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer

Somewhere someone is sleeping, / somewhere the lady of the house / puts the alarm clock in a drawer / where she cannot hear it / then tells the children to be quiet / and stands there listening / to its tick.”

‘Lightly, Very Lightly’ by Mary Ruefle

It was raining.
I could hear the rain
taking the pins out of her mouth.
Soft rain became hard rain
so that hard things became soft things.
The wet leaves under the trees
became heavy as diapers,
the book left open
on the grass
could finally sink in her bath
without a word,
the way, after a hard day,
I rest my head on the edge
of the claw-foot tub and
my mouth falls open, empty
at last.
Actually I saw that in a painting
when I ducked into a gallery
because it was raining.
It is always raining somewhere,
somewhere the wells are filling
from above and from below.
Somewhere someone is sleeping,
somewhere the lady of the house
puts the alarm clock in a drawer
where she cannot hear it
then tells the children to be quiet
and stands there listening
to its tick.


Source: Ruefle, Mary. “Lightly, Very Lightly.” Dunce, Wave Books, 2020, pp. 52-53.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer.” Nov. 7, 2020. JPG.

The Great American Rebrand

“an advert for the lightning that fills one’s body”

taos taupe on the meaningless wall an advert
for the effortless lightning that fills one’s body
1960s if i had to guess

masked up against the russian nike strife force
members of which giddily violate
the agreed upon terms of the hue and colorway

sapphire mayan air force marine corps
dozens of dead children some tourists
note i’m still not willing to count peaks

around the mountains of fin-de-siècle literature
dropped from the eradicating chlorosis
could be your ear to the ground

for the right exporter
cheap-as-dirt materials
dog-cheap labor

a skillful color field
beside cotton romance
this standing next to you

a million-dollar gradient
meaning returns
as the temperature rises

safe and dry in the suburbs
where no one can wring you out
and survival is an abatement for wellness

200! (Dog Talk)


200! the old mutt says
hallelujah and forevermore
the rats of us
keep banging on that drum
if the sky has his way
if the shy sky has his way
frank o’hara blessed me
early in my career — he blurbed
my christening i’ll pray for you
says the well intentioned divorcee
really where would we be without soft
scrub the bathroom would be the barn
no other poet should mention prokofieff
you’re setting yourself up for failure
it’s like last tuesday when the martians arrived
and locked all the inmates in with the guards
and burnt the whole penal colony
for fuel — i know it’s cruel. you’re not
telling yourself anything you don’t know
he blurbed my christening he read radio
but spelled it the old russian way
i remember something now about my grandfather
but can’t find a reason to type it — i’m not
the showboat All week long I trudge fatiguingly
i couldn’t name a damn thing the inanity of it
would crush me like a slug beneath a heel
in hell he made me come close i’m in
no condition a man is a man is a man
we think we can do anything and then
anything comes face to face with self-recognition
and the whole national book awards go ka-boom
how do i get out of this
promise me you’ll find a scholarly way to shuffle off
how? i listened and i didn’t like what i heard
another bug in another field of heads unrecognizable
except for it turns around — means of rotation
unknown — and shouts backwards into his
spinal column: 200! bark bark rough rough etc etc
and out of the eye’s corner a dune buggy
accelerating cliche-first into the azzurri sunset

Good Blue Clay


Tanka, by Ono No Oyu

The city of Nara of good blue clay glows like a blooming flower, now at its prime


Source: Ono No Oyu. “Tanka.” From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 43.

Photo: Church Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace


“Ono no Oyu (?-737) was a Japanese bureaucrat and a poet. He served under Ōtomo no Tabito during the Dazaifu administration. He rose to the rank of Assistant Governor-General (daini). Three of his tanka poems have been preserved in the Man’yōshū.” Wikipedia