Mezzanine

Named for the floor between floors and a kind of amphibious financing, Zoë Hitzig’s exquisitely engineered Mezzanine lands the reader in a nether place of talking commodities, misplaced agency, category mistakes, and radical dysphoria. As intricately woven as it is scrupulously observed and considered, if this “unwell trelliswork” of anomie and economics sounds strangely familiar, that’s because we live here, siloed on digital platforms where denial is easy, where fabricated cricket song takes the place of crickets and self-knowledge has been obviated by human subject research. Into these dire circumstances Hitzig dives head-first, feverish, an investigator who grapples with reality by recasting it from the inside out. In other words, she is a poet, and an extraordinary one at that—one whose response to our communal plight (“Then everyone was plural: data”) is charged with an intensity that at times recalls Eliot in its elegant, extrapersonal despair (“a heap of crackling synapses”), but here and there, and just in time, a fleck of good cheer or unexpected hopefulness (“I am not preparing / to leave”) reminds us of what there is to love in the human, and what it feels like to feel like it’s still too soon to give up.

- Timothy Donnelly

 

The War Gone Wrong Room

More like the maximum-security playground on the street with all the riots. More hedgefund-glass enclosures as if the riots were landscape, with waterfall. More cross armed supervisors with first-aid kits strapped onto ankles, next to pistols. More puzzling over numbers like truth : how many watering cans ... and truth : how long ’til the color left her ... and dare : take the scent of metal off take Alice’s hands off  the monkey bars ... More like playgroundless—more tangling in nets more ropes for nets to avoid the void below. More no-ground ground. More forts, more bows, more sterns. More ornately decorated wheels in the helm, please. More play to distract from lack of ground. More so now that Alice is no more. Moreover, what of the supervisors? More budget cuts. More for your dollar? More for the Dollar. More exotic juice in the juiceboxes to trade with the bullies. More juice to burn into smoke to soot up the ceiling fan. More keypads to catch our twiddling thumbs. More tangling bodies in nets. More nets filling with corpses. More decals for ships and chests. More juice to bargain for, then burn. More fire blankets on our lungs. More casual more indifference. Mere casualties. More Alice can you hear her? More distant grows Alice. “More?” she moans, “it just keeps going.” More war gone wrong. More wounds. More soon. More keep going don’t stop no. More please no. More I can’t. More can’t breathe.

Stylized Facts

Now I can’t get past the mezzanine, never know who’s waiting for me downstairs by the revolving door covered in shields or crosses like the blood drive. Will this be the year they finally succeed in harvesting these last self-organs, I ask, as they tell me it’s for a cause? As if I’m not the swollen one smiling on their pamphlets. Don’t bother with this logic of sameness as you eye me like the platter at Labor Lunch. I used to envy the trees wearing mists as veils, modest trunks exploding into thousands of muscle-bound legs soon as they reach the soil. Now even trees seem docile and susceptible. So too for the quasi goddesses with half-lives shorter than a hair’s. When we still had hair and partners my partner shaving said hair said we should be made of light. While every morning I wake hoping to uncover some slab of my body hollowed out and encased in steel. Everyone’s entitled to her own magic bullet theory of self. There’s the get-to-know-you game we play no longer for we lost get-to and know-you. If you had to press further into the future in what county what province would you elect what version of what self?

A half-frozen field late January. Tall, spare, lone turbine thrashing by the abandoned interstate.

I play my game.

I await the next campaign.

0/1 Trial for the New Aubade

Day is brushing the brush off my back. No. Dawn is tracing the margin of my being with unpleasant certainty. Today is a truck? It shakes this structure in which we sleep. Yes. That’s our new definition of dawn. No reason to share dawns these days with strangers. And that something so arbitrary as Sun played scheduler for so many centuries?—like Feudalism, then Welfare State. Like secrets swelling in your absence. In my new dawn you are barely a face. Inkblot eyes and mouth a simple laceration. You know how easily you appear in the corner of my vision to remind me where I am not, in the corner of what I am not to remind myself of, in the corner of my screen to furl, unfurl, tap, there, there’s the slender magnet arresting the iron flecks of my data … You will betray me. Leave me alone unsure of my own periphery. My eyes, these tiny factories of forgiveness, at what rate will my optic machinery depreciate—do I worry about these decreasing returns to scale? The splat sound of the shower water as I wring my hair in my new dawn. My day, my data, how much of you do I lose with this dawn?

1st Trial for the New Aubade

Does the season match the birdsong, did I hear the birdsong over the white noise machine, who brought the white noise machine here, was it the other, heaving next to me under a shroud, for how many seasons has he/she been sleeping here next to me, was there a logic of want to begin with in a seaside town or a dark box rattling underground, did he/she come through a revolving door like the termite winding up through the drain of my sink basin, was there a seasonal contract or perpetual exchange, who installed this sour drain in my middle, is it time to adjust my angles, for whom, whom today, tomorrow, what is history cloaking, as burlap wraps around wet figs, is there a logic of want, when will my season match my song.

2nd Trial for the New Aubade

There are hands on my body, how many. Do they belong to the other, heaving. These hands that want to touch me, my skin. A burlap wrap around the roots. A transplanted tree. I just remembered how these hands came in here. Was it the last blond moon after the last full day. I strayed beyond my sliding door to switch off the terrace lamp. A figure spilled out of shadow. As if night had waited all those years. Time is indexed by tones of abandon. Whose. On the terrace the logic of want placed one by one its hands on my body. It invited itself. Now day after day my body tenses. The hands never flinch.

Objectivity as Blanket

Nor the police, hyenas on hearing five confessions, four false and one too irresistible. Nor the mental health elephant, tusked by the state. Nor the common sense stork twisting at the prosecutor’s feet. Nor the one the one juror, uneasy facing eleven pale sheep that bay all day all night for conviction. Nor the Governor, sir! Nor the common sense stork, now in a knot. Nor the shots. Nor the clause, unbending. Nor the clause, bending. Nor, seeing his fitful approach, did one turn back to flip the window latch for the lifeform nearly breaking himself on glass. Nor the next Governor. Nor the state—carriage horses trotting ever steady blinders acute to the eye. Nor the widower how could he, puma in pull-focus. Nor the defense counsel, not for lack of it. Nor the stork, is she breathing? Is there such a thing as breathing here and does it mean—? The polyester the royal blue the blanket on the bed of the mother of two