Based on a line by Mats Söderlund
The figures on the doorframe appear to be
part animals, part unwinding swirls.
Behind that door I am polishing my rifles
recording Exile on Mainstreet
for a future without butterflies.
When you’re in the shadow of falling towers
the sun tends to look rotten.
Therefore I’m telling you: Never trust a foreigner,
they have no interiority. They traffic in inflation.
I can’t hear you. I’m collecting flowers in
the underground. My torso is best photographed
in the shadow of falling towers,
surrendered to flowers, surrounded by white.
From the bark I guess that the flowers are poodles.
I’m rethinking environmental aesthetics
with a hood on. Getting my killability on
for the poets who still think there’s a place for them
in heaven. There is a place for them
but there are many poodles and poodle fur is best
photographed in a butcher shop.
So there’s that. That and the fact that
some of the best poems are about war,
and some of the other best poems feel like
breathing underwater. Next stop: The Orient.
I’m watching a movie about innocence: it’s wordless.
It’s called Suicide Inflation. It’s about rats.
I’d like to dedicate this poem to the rats
and to my daughter who is knitting something
vaguely anatomical to alleviate her anxiety
about her horrible parents. This poem is also
dedicated to Clarice Lispector
because she posed the question: “Am I a monster,
or is this what it means to be human?”
To be writing a poem about music
while polishing one’ rifle in the shadow of falling
towers: It’s not my fault. It’s my scam.
There are no triggers. I drive a truck full of
chicken carcasses out of a sense of obligation.
The economy needs my beautiful eyes to be blind.
I used to be beautiful but that was the cold war.
Now I sleep in Los Angeles and listen
to my wife’s nipples. Protest art.
All I do is protest. All I returns to is a home
that’s turned to debts and snail shells.
I’m in Hong Kong with my nausea. I write
hate poems in the harbour the hour
when the the ship comes in. I bat my eyelashes.
History has too many dead fathers.
La la la, I can’t hear a thing.
The rabble is at my door.
When these figures ask for music
they’re really asking for a kind of silence.
I want to silence the rats gnawing in
the basement walls. I want a rat silence
in my home but in the butcher shop, I want
a silence that is utterly pornographic. I want
a silence that will go with my torso,
an underground silence that reads like
a prickly wreck or overbloomed flowers
leaking fish roe on the bodies of the rabble.
I want a silence that smells like sweat when
I write poetry for a sick nature.
Nature is disgusting, because I’m in it.
I stink like sweat when I’m silent in
the underground blowing my ridiculous flute.
The rabble wants a different kind of silence.
The rabble wants me to kill a girl.
She loves to take images of herself
wearing a malignant trousseau
with an effusion of contagious folds.
Due to this trespassing business, I will now
venture into the underworld,
but I’m already in the basement,
invoking rats instead. The whole plague thing,
the whole inflation-currency thing,
the whole my-torso-is-porn thing.
I’m great at blowing into the femur flute
at fascist rallies. And I’m even better
with glass shards in my hands.
Each shard has been inscribed with a flower,
the skull-cap, named I guess after the skin
conditions of certain infants. Each flower
represents a different rabble,
each infant represents mimicry.
The rabble hates mimicry and flowers,
and they hate foreign currency because
it crosses boundaries. We’re on the same page,
a stained page of foreign currency. Rat currency.
I too hate it when those pests are photographed
on my torso. But not because I hate photography.
I hate the plague because I’m in love.
In this plague business, I sell the rabble
to the rabble. My fingerprints are all over
the rabble. I’ve been fucking around
with bodies again. Atrocity dummies. I can’t
sell them. In forty years
we will meet again – you and I, the rabble,
the girl who takes photographs of herself–
and we will have to balance the accounts,
but for now I’m the star of this empire.
I have to be softer, softer.
There’s always insects in the corners of my eyes
when I go back home, or when I go to Hong Kong
Nature betrays me. I have portrayed raw flowers
on the grave of some imaginary outside
where we can live. It’s always about sex
and language. Why talk when you can fuck?
Why fuck when language means something different?
I’m playing down my own desire for obliteration
because I’m in Hong Kong of Death
and it’s beautiful to see the fish get chopped up
like how in the story about innocence
I constantly rewrite that satanic travelogue.
The compulsion may be caused by the rotting of
the sun or the shadow of the falling towers
or by how beautiful the male body looks
in the cold war. When I travel to foreign places
I always think about childhood.
I picture it like an effigy or like 7000
dead sharks. I ate at McDonalds this morning
because I don’s speak Cantonese. The crime
of art is like the crime of the tourist: we don’t
have children here. We have children
in the underworld, where we eat squid and listen
to drone music to drown out the sound of
the bodies drying on the lawn. It’s against the law.
To make dioramas about history, make sure
you use the right stylus. Speak the language
of hangings and ride a motorcycle with a swan
etched into your left calf muscle. Kill the cows
with the diorama and leave it at the scene.
Make a scene. The threat of language comes
from inside of it. How it may turn into nonsense.
My brand is crisis. I live on coffee and flowers.
I belong to a stabbing, showing off my bikini lines
to the soldiers returning from a dance party.
It’s the 90s, it’s always the 90s.
Can you tell that I have ants on my skin when
I write this? Don’t go out of style. Take your style
to the next level: the rotting sun
has been lit up in the strip show. I can’t fit
any more shark carcasses into this poem,
I can barely fit my fingers into it.
No offense but is the prince dead?
Is that why I can’t wake up my friend?
His visa is denied. Wake up, Ali. Translation
is a crime. There’s blood on your hands.
I’m reading your anthology of Iranian
underground poetry. The venom is starting
to take effect. I’m playing with
the black puzzle. Nostalgia.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones