Savage Pageant

Savage Pageant recounts the history of the defunct zoo, Jungleland, which housed Hollywood's show animals up until its closure in 1969. In it, Stark explores the concept of US American spectacle and its historic ties to celebrity culture, the maternal body, racist taxonomies, the mistreatment of animals, and ecological violence. With a hybrid, documentary poetics, Savage Pageant reveals how we attempt to narrate and control geographical space and how ghosts (remainders, the sketch, unfinished stories) collapse the tidy corners of our collective, accumulative histories.

Savage Pageant: 33 Weeks

for the panther, escaped

[ley-ber] noun

1.productive activity, especially for the sake of economic gain.

2.the body of persons engaged in such activity, especially those work- ing for wages.

3.this body of persons considered as a class (distinguished from manage- ment and capital).

Last week I felt your hiccups for three days straight. This week,

unknown. A collection of impulses— this savage page. I pay to sit

with a circle of strangers to feel more prepared and one woman

cries. I feel my eyes roll and I curl into another language.

I am obsessed with hiding my own nakedness. The body on display:

a public domain of choices made— a needle, a drink of sugar, the sun

going down when I rise. Is it madness to have you? Elephants breaking

the main water line. There are things I’d like to tell you before

you are born: like don’t ever sit in circles with strangers, like

 

you don’t always have to be in motion to survive, like the human

heart is capable of making the head feel very small. And the

last tissue I’ll give you, before giving you away to the clock

and the stars, is a simple one: already you are part of the air

and this end will not summarize forever. Stay static, for a time,

and hold onto the slippery pull of hearsay, rumor—these legends.

Even if they are stones, they are made of sand. And even if you can’t

jump ship, you might not need to find your way home.

 

A line drawing in black ink: A curly-haired figure, looking straight toward the viewer, stands on top of an elephant lying on their side and looking away

There Are Many Types of Cannibals

Hatch a plan; break a               windshield.

Find the culprit:

a change in climate,                bad water,

more bad water, traffic.

An imaginary sniper

               breaking glass

while dogs sleep.

Low-flying military

               crafts making better

news than the misread

                routine and

the usual percentage

                 of broken glass.

A ghost is a felt

                 miscalculation

in the overflow of human

information and category—

                  reserve a space

for the crack. Look

                  through

perfect symmetry for

some bright triangle

                   in misty air.

If you don’t think

                   of the car

or the dogs, or the

water, you might

miss not knowing.

There is no one out

                   in the street.

Now look again.

A line drawing in black ink: beneath clouds, cars are stacked in a circle, forming the shape of Stonehenge

Conversion Disorders in the Burn Pits, Please Take Flight

Conversion disorder is a mental condition in which a person has blindness, paralysis, or other nervous system (neurologic) symptoms that cannot be explained by medical evaluation. Conversion disorder symptoms may occur because of a psychological conflict.


social panics                fainting spells to twitching                      shaking

       a trance state:                           call it                                            mass hysteria

(of course)    it      starts      with        little girls          near puberty          or in

poor                                         working conditions                                            stifling

laughter                     in the back of            a schoolroom                   spinning

             tales      about    breaking      windows-       treaty                  breaking

code-clocks        of   land             script    deed                         an outing             of

the circumstance            an    out from     the lump               in the throat that

produces a sensation of                      choking      if you          can think

       yourself         better    you             can also make               yourself       sick

with love                         call it mania         for                             a collective

       breakdown              a stress response against      a line of               history

that        speeds         fast     like red metal                 towards dense fog

Line drawing in black: A figure in a headpiece wearing a halter dress and carrying an American flag is riding away on the back of an elephant. Another figure in a top hat, long coat, and high boots has a hand on the elephant's side and a lowered head

Savage Pageant: Jungleland Had Many Names

And now we are carving mythology out

of unremembered time. The recurrent dream about Jungleland isn’t about

tigers or Mabel or a roster of poorly behaving men. We know memory,

like a trapped lion, must snack on dry sandwiches to survive.

It would be nice to leave it alone, the small lion to its tidy sandwich,

but here is the affliction

from stories better left unsaid:

the spectacle in the archive of harm,

the body left untouched for four hours,

of Flint and the shootings that no longer receive another name.

We call a hundred mouths laughing an epidemic.

We call a thousand killing bodies a circumstance.

We are so far away

from it all, aren’t we?

The plastic jungle and the crass crate.

Yet here we sit like the mannequins of young schoolgirls

imagining something out of thin air

our tongues curling around no-nation—

no sudden movements to call our own.