An Orange

“…Pertinent and mobile, [the poems of An Orange] speak to me right now, recording & rearranging ordinary impossibilities & anxieties, while operating at a speed beyond preservation (they said that). The works in An Orange tremble with the certainty trembling forces into view: ‘To speak gently with you / makes the whole world again / accessible for a moment.'”
—Anselm Berrigan 

from An Orange

It would be too easy to say love vanished from the earth, to say an emptied mountain struck its hollowest note and sounded unlike anything else. I text the same three people every day, sometimes four. How fast that dream left me when I woke out of it, snorted up into a catalog of faces fastened with long and draping hair. Unrecognizably, I am thinking of something else. Not a dream or a short transparent reality like the outer bend of my eyes or a limping memory poking around the calendar for an approximate location. Something else. And I really don't feel I know enough to say what it is. Shouldn't a work of sufficient emotion optimize any morning into a cascade of murmuring strings that appear to fix the ground to an object vast enough to be in the continual distance? I knocked on that door once, and I think behind it was all spaghetti. Life's things do pile up, though I'm daily assured I can be driven into a normative clarity, wiping away thoughts like they'd accumulated on a windshield.

Andrew sent me a new story of his yesterday about an empty-handed search for a fabled painting of Guibert, its sole evidence of existence was an appearance in L'Homme au chapeau rouge, which I have not read. He later emailed me to clarify the search was fictional and the narrative cribbed from L'Homme. The story is beautiful, one of my favorites of his now. The image of never having been though still having, distinct and existent as anything else, a life, hangs clear and unguarded and doubles as a volume of forgetting one pages through while sitting up from bed or even walking to the kitchen maybe for coffee if I remembered to buy a bag of beans at the store yesterday.

[Brooklyn, 5/25/18]

from An Orange

To have come this far

only to be reduced to dew

heroically is a fitting though limp

insurrection disguising what looked

to be a better plan. Once

I witnessed a clear vision

and was full envy. But who would feel

otherwise? The affect of lecture takes

art when no one is listening

and this is by necessity. Let's talk

materials. Being unrequired

to ratify decency as the central

non-combustible tenet of worldly affairs

courage filed alongside myth

and fiction. Within this index

some of us sit with

an invited guest who gifts

a parcel of land tattooed

in a far national

corner, a lip too remote

to ever reach, and this was by design.

I took off my clothes

so I could see my ass

see if the gym gave me any

classicism but without a mirror

I'm more or less intractable

in relation to my own body's

semiotics, trying to peer around

the corner of myself. I just hope

a man or a woman upon finding me

wiped naked across an unfamiliar

coast, having vanished

on an ill-fated vacation,

at least say what a waste

then repost and enshrine

my likeness as a minor

cultural reference point.

Could be too much

to ask. Instead, I interview

with the panopticon.

It sees me and all I see

is a generic avatar, a little ghost

or an octopus emoji. Do I

have any interest in wearing

a RompHim? The official future

outfit for stormtroopers, partying with

Corona Light and a sponsored

photoshoot? A bottle of rosé

floats in the pool, manufactured

for buoyancy. Solidarity is opted-in

or history and all I have to show for it

is this scam, me and everyone

I know. Do the drugs even work?

I'll say I've had enough of perspective,

but there are more empty rooms,

empty for the sake of their emptiness,

where I'd be content to wait around

for a phone to ding. I'll try that hat on

again under the protective guise

of a California saffron blaze,

safe from the rough quenching

of gathered foams and spume

lathered from chlorinated shores

appearing from the air as winsome

sapphire pits. I adjust my privacy settings

to include the walls of my apartment

with the curtains drawn, a gratifying effort

to collectivize as the eye

of Sauron whose power thirst

was a front for his voyeurism,

catching Frodo and Sam bareback

on the side of the Misty Mountains,

pretending he didn't see so he'd

never have to stop watching.

"Destroyed by my lust for hobbit ass"

would be a good title for Sauron's biopic

or maybe this poem, too. O'Hara wrote about

not having to leave the city to enjoy greenery,

also the pleasant cold of a hilltop

upstate and driving up the West Side Highway

presumably. I'm amazed how one's point of view translates

to desire depending on the direction of approach

or the speed of arrival or the voluntary retreat

of oneself to a solitary place even if it's just

the back seat of a sedan. Austerity measures

your propinquity to yourself, weighing

throwing us or ourselves over

the side of a bridge with a view

of the burning tide gratifying

our aerodynamic contours.

How heavenly we could be if only

we had a world where we were.

[Toronto, 7/5/18]

from An Orange

At the center of what lives and dreams, an unmistakable and debtless intelligence or a cataclysm of unmanaged resources that could buy time as if it were being sold, a PowerBar or blank note pad. An unfinished categorizing of OTC suggestions could work my heart blue then yellow sky over the long drool of attractions, their copious marginalia. Awareness swells under the surface like music fills a balloon.

There were two of us then there are several invented by way of an elementary connection spanning a room provided for too many to wait in. To get back to basics would mean valuing ourselves last or breaking a halo of reason. That much was ever certain but hardly assured.

[Washington, D.C., 10/3/18]

from An Orange

I hate a guy with a car and no sense of humor. —Halloween (Dir. John Carpenter, 1978)  

Soph texts me a picture.

It's a parked car at the end

of her street. It's the exact

station wagon from Halloween

Michael Myers steals to escape

the asylum where he was

confined during the years after

he murdered his sister in a

psychosexual fit. My first car

was a 1993 Volkswagen. The

speedometer didn't work

which was funny as in

it made me nervous, induced

a fearfulness of the endless

or undetermined, probably a latent

cultural prerogative's structural

trigger. How fast am I going

and when will this be over?

It's easy to determine the horrific

motivations of monsters to violence.

They're often banal, clear

and resolved, a shape inexorably

approaching at a determined

velocity. A friend invited me

over to their place for a drink.

Though we've been friends for a while,

as in we've exchanged logins

to a couple streaming apps, I've

never seen the inside of their apartment,

but I know they live without roommates.

I imagined something reasonable: Ikea, maybe

a coffee table, a correlation with trends and

aesthetics compounded through

capital's stranglehold on our

pataphysical relation to what

we imagine as signifiers of ourselves.

It was exactly like that. We watched

an episode of Twin Peaks

(third season, which I'd already seen)

the one where the goblin in the box

shreds those two teenagers. I was

high and a little freaked out—less due

to Lynch than my own underlying

anticipation of a sporadic, structureless

panic—and walked home that evening,

nibbling my friend's water crackers.

I used to suffer terrible anxiety

attacks, existential terror

sirening through me and parking

in my collar, floodlights shining,

filling in the gaps between my bones.

I still have them, but they are less frequent,

their mitigation a remedy of CBT and

on-again, off-again analysis. I think

I need to relax. Should I relax?

Okay, I'm relaxing. I have my friend's

password to his Shudder account.

Zombi 2 (1979) and Tourist Trap (1979),

a camp classic double feature.

A shark attacking the living

dead and—up next—shambling

mannequins who telekinetically torment

stranded vacationers have a calming influence.

Their excesses, both gore and genre,

render its vehicle so replete each becomes

an antidote for any lesser dread.

[Brooklyn, 10/31/18]