Like, you’ll go: “Person, woman, man
camera, TV.” So they say,
“Could you repeat that?” Someday
the words won’t come; your lips will fan
the toaster-oven air; you’ll say, “Woman?
TV? Radio? Opera? Fannie Mae?
Elephant? Alligator? Matinee?
Mother? Birthday boy? Afghanistan?”
If you get it in order you get extra points,
although they say no one gets it in order, but for me
it’s easy. Nevertheless I sometimes fear
that each word unremembered thus unjoints
its ordered re-remembering. Words flee
the fit mind. The mouth speaks. I’m here.
I was one of one hundred and fifty-three
signers, and am a veteran of the Twitter
wars; many good men, and brave, now litter
the twilight screens; they yearned to live as free
Americans: now their souls flee
the quiet fields; their blue checks glitter
amongst the angels: absent God’s transmitters
of this dream: that we might disagree
about how many Jews died in the camps
or whether white folk are permitted words
that black folk use between themselves without
the ad hominem and vitriol that stamp
out freedom, turn men into beasts, mere herds
of cows denied their human birthright: clout.
Our cultural institutions now must face
a trial unlike any faced before:
@litboner69 called me a bore;
a sophomore undergrad said that my race
informed my sense of self, and worth, and place;
they didn’t put my book in the front of the store;
they added diaspora studies to the core
curriculum; now my promotion case
is held up with the provost just because
I hold a few unorthodox views:
that Blacks are more athletic by design;
true women lack men’s moral flaws;
Arabs just aren’t quite as smart as Jews.
For this you’re telling me I should resign?
If in a given sample size of N
a growing portion comes back positive,
you must yet understand that most will live
and those who die just once can’t die again;
if, in other words, leads thus to then;
it’s simple logic; I could for instance give
more tests, but aren’t outcomes causative?
We are not abstract models; we are men.
Have I been feeling slightly ill for days?
Will this cough persist, or disappear?
These are questions of the spirit. Science wills
its best conclusions into being; haz-
y reason is a sickness too, and fear,
not viral fever, clouds the mind and kills.
I don’t believe it just because it’s true.
An interim beyond a certain length
of time attenuates the tensile strength
of a claim; our years on earth, though brief and few
against history’s vast, impersonal view,
reduce the truth each rainy spring by a tenth:
T-zero times (one minus point one) to the Nth.
It’s simple math. There’s nothing you can do.
Had you told me right away, or yet
mentioned it in 1999,
or even yesterday, I would achieve
true belief, quite against any threat
to my politics’ necessary bottom line.
Your deadline’s passed, alas. I disbelieve.
on celebrating Passover via videoconference
The Midrash tells us there are two Jeru-
salems, but there are three: one unequal
city still on earth, and then a sequel
made of our mitzvot, beyond the domed blue
tent of heaven; the third has very few
of the tangled modern, ancient, and medieval
attributes of either; it’s only people
separated not by choice, but by a new
sickness—each trying from the dining room
or fire escape, the garden or the narrow bed,
to make the seder with their telephonic friends;
while outside the pear trees bloom
and bless even the dying, and even the dead,
and the hearts God breaks, and breaks, and mends.
for Matt Christman
The liberatory quality of not knowing
shit is quite honestly the strangest bit
of living indoors in hopes of avoiding it.
By it, I mean the damp and fungal growing
sense that the wheel of time, far from slowing
has slipped the axle. Calm is counterfeit
joy; real happiness is fear knit
together with the inevitability of going
anyway: the green ruined future
made beautiful by all the strange and new
life bursting from the cracked curbs and stairs,
effervescent blood from a torn suture
strikes the sidewalk where once weeds grew
and turns to flowers in the now-clear air.
Bring in the boss and sit him down. The head
of the table is perfectly appropriate.
It is the last head that we’ll ever let
him have. Yes, I’m saying we’ll kill him dead.
Lop off his noggin. Weigh his body with lead.
Throw it from the gunwale of a midnight motorboat.
See if all that money helps it float.
Go home and kiss the kids and put them to bed.
“How was your day today?” inquires your wife.
“It wasn’t bad at all,” you say, and then,
quietly, so as not to wake the children,
make the quick, familiar love of a long-shared life,
watch some TV, say a quick prayer, amen:
better to live than to hoard a hundred billion.
If the CIA had a pill that would make me not
gay, I would crush it and mix it with alcohol,
drink it and head to a nearby men’s room stall,
wait for a horny dude who was very hot
and into the thrill of nearly getting caught
to wander in from the under-peopled mall,
broad-shouldered and very, very tall,
quite DTF, a DILF, perhaps a THOT;
I’d wait for his foot to tap beneath the bland
three-quarters-height partition; I would then
stand on the toilet seat and peer across;
I’d say my spy vocation had unmanned
me; saved me from a life of loving men.
He’d shrug, and tug his dick, and say: Your loss.
Being intersectional also means
existing where two plotted lines will cross,
where X plus A is Y you’re at a loss
to please the fascists and the communistic queens,
stoic farmers and mewling teenage scenes,
both wheat and chaff, both gold and foaming dross,
Israel’s psycho settlers and Hamas,
faculty and staff, adjuncts and deans.
Be everything to everyone, and at
all times tell every multitude that they
are self-contained within your sprawling mind:
each man and woman, goldfish, dog, and cat,
aspiration, measure, cloud, and day
exquisitely together, unaligned.