XXXV. Untitled (first published 2-14-13; originally misnumbered)

Octogenarian in a wheelchair being pushed past BAM; black woman, arresting stare; a person who matters.

I notice, first of all, the stare, which hooks me, and then the pin, a large, oblong, golden-colored pin with shells dangling from it. But the meaning passes my notice as I pass.

But then, in a flash, I know it. A horizontal cross section of the Amistad, with the bodies of slaves laying prone on its deck. The cowry shells dangling from it in honor of those lost to the sea and still being lost to the sea that ate them.

I couldn’t respond with verse, only prose, because the poem is hers.


XXXIV. Time Stanzas (originally posted 2-13-13; originally misnumbered)

“I have written some new poetry; I just don’t know what it’s about”
–       Hirohito in Sokurov’s The Sun

Sadness, syncope, striation.
Time is the poem is the distance from A to B is the passage of time.
(Zeno’s paradox. Not a paradox when you incorporate T.)
Shall we add, Synchrony?

Striation as image of time.
We met we loved we sedimented
(but not while my parents are upstairs sleeping).
What remains is a photograph (overused metaphor of frozen time).
(Barthes says, “I am looking at eyes that looked at the emperor”).

Syncope, the staggered beat.
We believe that we can overcome the
Fatal beat through an act of will: Add
A beat, and all will be right. Ass-
Ertion. Proposition.
Free will.

Sadness: melancholy of the fulfillment of what we know to be true in advance.


XXXIII. Tired Ass Lovefool (first published 2-13-13; originally misnumbered)

The raindrop faces come and go,
And each glance could be
Desire or loathing.

Love me love me say that you love me.

Synecdoche of the Q train: doors opening and closing.
All life contained in the blur.
The walls of the tunnels can be vaguely glimpsed in the dark.

Fool me fool me go on and fool me.

Doubles, triples.
No distinctions.
The word is “harried.”

Love me love me pretend that you love me.

Only Jesus saves.
Only Jesus saves for winter.
Only Jesus saves big now at participating outlets.

Lead me lead me just say that you need me.

Doors close. Train departs.
Damn. Damn damn.

XXXII. History Lesson (first published 2-7-13)

All of history in the voice.

Helen divides. But, H.D. reminds us,
Is it Helen of Troy or Helen of Egypt?
Helen on the tongue? Helen on the lips?
You say Helen, but do you mean Helen?

To act is a synonym,
And the vita activa is nothing
But the vita homocida. It’s code, and when,
Fist raised, we shout, act now!, we say kill.

XXXI. For Akilah (first published 2-6-13)

Akilah, I’m thinking of you this morning
As I see the lights from the Q bouncing off the apartment walls,
The tracks’ rattling rattling the house.
You dead at fifty in Fort Greene, your punishment for trying to be in the world.
You spent so much of your life mourning that we don’t know how to mourn you.

How you living?

In 2006,
You asked me to write something about Oluchi,
I started but couldn’t write more,
So instead, I write about you.

How you living?

The injustice of your death
The injustice of your death is not only the injustice of a system
The injustice of your death is a cosmic injustice
I strain to wonder why your death did not bring down renovated apartments in Bushwick
Why it didn’t topple the highrises in DUMBO
Why it did not halt Wall Street and its speculations.

How you living?

XXX. The Explicit Canto (first published 2-4-13)

On this, the thirtieth in the series, allow me to reflect:

I remember the Super Bowl XXX, Dallas versus Pittsburgh,
I remember Breathe Right Nasal Strips™ and Doritos™ and the spectators in the Phoenix stadium being enlisted in an ad campaign (for what, I don’t remember)
I remember Abe turning thirty and thinking to himself, Is this it?
I remember Maggie and Abe reflecting on being thirty in the bar in downtown Durham that no longer exists.

I am not yet thirty.

And Pound’s canto thirty, the explicit canto, Artemis agaynst pity.
Don’t waste pity on that sympathizer in the asylum, certainly,
Jackass from Idaho speaking in a fake brogue.

XXX is the universal sign for missed connection,
The betrayal of the image
Or the betrayal of language by the thing seen,
Larry Flint presents: It’s Not Reality XXX. But
Should it be? Are we surprised that the X marks not a tangible,
But an idea, a vague notion?

MCMXXX. Does anyone see the future? Certainly
Not Tiresias. Blind, doty fool. Nor Tafari Makonnen, for that matter.
But perhaps Mohandas on his march to the sea could smell a bit of the blood in the air around him,
The sheeps’ entrails and libations and whatnot. They called it the Empire. X
Marks the X spot where we imagine little tyrants, failed tyrants of the sea X
Buried their failed tyrant spoils. A Klimt picked off an evicted Jewish family.

And so, in February, I write the thirtieth in a series that will extend, and I pour one out for the loss of even the pretense of innocence.

XXIX. Universals (first posted 2-3-13)

It is universally acknowledged that you will fall in love just days before moving away from a place
And that a long-distance relationship begun on such a foundation never works.
And that one can never discount one’s own departure from the possible causes of the relationship.
And that the sex better be good.
And that putting a tree in a verse will salvage it.
And that romance isn’t dead, but it isn’t alive either.
And that you saw Django, but didn’t really like it.
And that you think Catherine Bigelow is overrated.
And that roaches cause a profound sense of dis-ease in a way that no other non-poisonous insect can really manage.
And that the sex better be good.
And that beer bottles scattered around an apartment are never a turn-on. Never.
And that the Internet increases procrastination.
And that a dog barking in the distance in a verse creates the effect of solitude and loneliness.
And that prostitutes are virtuous in nineteenth-century novels.
And that working at a bar, you see a lot of people.
And that you still do not cover the variety of human experience.
And that the sex better be good.
And that old people regard death in a different way from young people.
And that, barring accident, you’ve still got a long way to go, my friend. You’ve still got a long way to go.