Bardo, by Peter Gizzi

I’ve spent my life
in a lone mechanical whine,

this combustion far off.

How fathomless to be
embedded in glacial ice,

what piece of self hiding there.

I am not sure about meaning
but understand the wave.

No more Novalis out loud.

No Juan de la Cruz singing
“I do not die to die.”

No solstice, midhaven, midi, nor twilight.

No isn’t it amazing, no
none of that.

To crow, to crown, to cry, to crumble.

The trees the air warms into
a bright something

a bluish nothing into

clicks and pops
bursts and percussive runs.

I come with my asymmetries,
my untutored imagination.

Heathenish,

my homespun vision
sponsored by the winter sky.

Then someone said nether,
someone whirr.

And if I say the words
will you know them?

Is there world?
Are they still calling it that?

 

Chirality, by Rae Armantrout

If I didn’t need
to do anything,
would I?

Would I oscillate
in two
or three dimensions?

Would I summon
a beholder

and change chirality
for “him”?

A massless particle
passes through the void
with no resistance.

Ask what it means
to pass through the void.

Ask how it differs
from not passing.

 

ninth: a conversation between Annabot and the Human Machine on the subject of overpowering emotion, by Anna Moschovakis

(Note: Though Annabot is ostensibly downloadable, the attempt to open her produced an error, a string of errors.)

ANNABOT: What now?

HUMAN MACHINE: The Brain, the brain—that is the seat of trouble!

ANNABOT: My brain, whose brain? Those who feel, feel.

HUMAN MACHINE: On the blink?

ANNABOT: Or, discipline. The brain is a machine of habit. The heart is a hell.

HUMAN MACHINE: “The secret of smooth living is a calm cheerfulness which will leave me always in full possession of my reasoning faculty.”

ANNABOT: But I am not cheerful.

HUMAN MACHINE: I ought to reflect, again and again, and yet again, that all others deserve from me as much sympathy as I give to myself. I place my hand over your heart.

ANNABOT: I cannot feel your hand.

HUMAN MACHINE: I cannot feel your heart.

This is the language of simple, obvious things
The conclusion and the part before

Anna held her hand out to feel the cold
It was cold

Then, nothing

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems, by James Tate

They didn’t have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
“You look like a god sitting there.
Why don’t you try writing something?”

Prefix: Finding the measure, by Robert Kelly

Finding the measure is finding the mantram,
is finding the moon, as index of measure,
is finding the moon’s source;

if that source
is Sun, finding the measure is finding
the natural articulation of ideas.

The organism
of the macrocosm, the organism of language,
the organism of I combine in ceaseless naturing
to propagate a fourth,
the poem,
from their trinity.

Style is death. Finding the measure is finding
a freedom from that death, a way out, a movement
forward.

Finding the measure is finding the
specific music of the hour,
the synchronous
consequence of the motion of the whole world.

Poem Interrupted by Whitesnake, by Timothy Donnelly

That agreeable feeling we haven’t yet been able
to convert into words to our satisfaction

despite several conscious attempts to do so
might prove in the end to be nothing

more than satisfaction itself, an advanced
new formula just sitting there waiting to be

marketed as such: Let my logo be the couch
I can feel it pulse as the inconstant moon

to which I’ve come to feel attached continues to pull
away from earth at a rate of 1.6 inches

every solar year: Let my logo be the couch
where you merge into nights until you can’t

up from the shadows of a factory warehouse
in historic Secaucus built on top of old swamp-

land I can feel it: Let my logo be the couch
where you merge into nights until you can’t

even remember what you wanted to begin with.
Let my slogan be the scrapes of an infinite

catalogue’s pages turning over and over until you
find it again.

In the air above Secaucus

a goldfinch, state bird of New Jersey, stops dead
midflight and falls to the asphalt of a final

parking lot. Where it lands is a sacred site
and earth is covered in them. Each is like

the single seed from which an entire wheat field
generates. This happens inside oneself

so one believes oneself to be the owner of it.
From the perimeter of the field one watches

as its workers undertake their given tasks:
some cut the wheat, some bundle it; others picnic

in the shade of a pear tree, itself a form of
labor, too, when unfolding at the worksite.

A gentle pride engilds this last observation like
sun in September. Because this happens

inside oneself one feels one must be its owner.
But call out to the workers, even kindly,

and they won’t call back, they won’t even look up
from their work.

There must be someplace

else where life takes place besides in front of
merchandise, but at the moment I can’t think of it.

In the clean white light of the market I am where
I appertain, where everything exists

for me to purchase. If there’s a place of not meaning
what you feel but at the same time meaning

every word, or almost, I might have been taught
better to avoid it, but

here I go again

on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever
known, trusting Secaucus’s first peoples

meant something specific and true when they fused
the words seke, meaning black, and achgook,

meaning snake, together to make a compound
variously translated as “place where the snake

hides,” “place of black snakes,” or, more simply,
“salt marsh.”

Going moon over the gone marsh

Secaucus used to be, I keep making the same
mistake over and over, and so do you, slowly

speeding up your orbital velocity, and thereby
increasing your orbital radius, just like Kepler

said you would, and though I keep trying not
to take it to heart, I can’t see where else there is

to go with it. In German, a Kepler makes caps
like those the workers wear who now bundle

twigs for kindling under the irregular gloom. One looks
to be making repairs to a skeletal umbrella

or to the thoughts a windmill entertains by means
of a silver fish. Off in the distance, ships tilt

and hazard up the choppy inlet. Often when I look
at an object, I feel it looking back, evaluating

my capacity to afford it.

Maybe not wanting
anything in particular means mildly wanting

whatever, constantly, spreading like a wheat
field inside you as far as the edge of the pine

forest where the real owners hunt fox. They keep you
believing what you see and feel are actually

yours or yours to choose. And maybe it’s this
belief that keeps you from burning it all down.

In this economy, I am like the fox, my paws no good
for fire-starting yet, and so I scamper back

to my deep den to fatten on whatever I can find.
Sated, safe, disremembering what it’s like

up there, meaning everywhere, I tuck nose under tail
after I exhaust the catalogues, the cheap stuff

and sad talk to the moon, including some yelping but
never howling at it, which is what a wolf does.

Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target, by Lynn Melnick

Into the fluorescent rough country
headlong into bulks of flesh

impatient to outspend me

and who wouldn’t fold real quick
under the weight of America’s sales and specials.

I believed then I didn’t

that I was different than I am
in my own skin in this infinity

mirror, instructed such
to seduce myself, to go on.

I am sorry

about the space I take up
about the panic

running around my aspect and my hunger

although it’s nothing

these racks of acrylic winter apparatus
won’t dazzle out of my head.

I’ll take several. I’ll take fistfuls.
I’ll tuck it into my mouth at night to keep me quiet.


 

About this poem:

I wrote this poem because I find myself terribly overwhelmed by the experience of shopping, by all the stuff and all the people, and all the people in a frenzy over all the stuff. I get confused and I can’t breathe and I can barely remember who I am or what I want. And then I buy something I don’t need.”

Lynn Melnick