THE FREE POEMS
ANNIE PARADIS APRIL 2013 3
“It would have been considered base to die without having made some splendid expenditure that might add luster to this person by displaying the favour of the gods who had given him everything.” - Bernardino de Sahagún
THE FREE POEMS began as a desire to make poems that could breathe from and for the life of a person other than myself: poems that can continue on in another being. THE FREE POEMS were written with the desire to give: to give away the attachment of the perfect poem and the perfect life. The poems are free from revision and free from my own past expectations of what a poem should be. In the summer I filmed an infomercial titled TIRED OF WRITING YR OWN POEMS??? in which I offered my poetic services. I asked for individuals to submit to me three words each of their liking and in exchange I would write a poem for them, titled after them, with the three words in it. The submissions primarily took place through email, although some occurred on napkins or Facebook messages or face to face in the dark dusty corners of a weird house party. I accepted 100 requests. I wrote one poem a day, everyday, and for four months I got very proud and scared and bored and embarrassed and ecstatic. Each day after the poem was written I recorded a video on my laptop of me reading the poem alone in my room for the requester. I then uploaded the video to YouTube, and posted it on Facebook and tumblr and e-mailed it to the individual along with the actual text version of the poem. The videos can be accessed at freepoetry.tumblr.com.What follows in this book are the texts.
THE FREE POEMS
MICHAEL FOSS Forget the quesadilla, I forgot how tall you are! STELLAR. The first abortion of Spring, I’m wedged. What you said was a bell. Open, dipped, true. What you meant, was a no. Michael, how did you even get a bell in this crisis? Fang nor bark will keep me away. EVEN THE SAINTS CAN’T HELP ME. Give this to someone. Cause I am way up on this fuckn canyon ringing things and you are only in my dreams. Indecision is like a cowboy. Forget what I said about Spring. I got its claws in me.
KEREM ATALAY Thank you for this horse blanket! These colts are extraordinary blazing with little stars on their coats I am beneath it like a coast I’m hidden and I always felt like a lighthouse around you blazing. What you could do in a barnyard behind a lighthouse. I think of you often on the coast I don’t know why the coast because we’ve never been to the coast together, but imagine 21 horses there because I can. 21 bullets. 21 times I will set the barn and by extension the barnyard on fire, FOR A FRIEND. Yea, for you if you had a good reason, I’d definitely set a barn on fire. So I put on a beanie to look like you. Close the ports, the stables! I miss you. Sofas I know about. I walked away. The sea that you face is ribbed so solid I lay upon it face up and stolen I see as much as I wanna see dusk and 42 hooves. This is how they live in the world. Swollen n blossomed.
RYAN CARSON Ryan gets a motorcycle. This motorcycle is cooler than orphans, Ryan knows this. On that beast, girls, they picture themselves riding in one of those little buggies that attaches to his motorcycle. However, Ryan hates this because he supports feminism. He even told a girl once, he said, Don’t stand in my kitchen and make me feel like crying because I chose this paint and that bowl and these epiphanies SOMETIMES I JUST NEED SOME FEEDBACK. Ryan it will all be okay. Like the other day in class when you and I explained the beginning of the history of the Circus. We were funny and on point. So Ryan is on his motorcycle: amorous buffalo! And he thinks of a girl hair dipped in gold and she says, If I ever give birth to something like a being you can bet the birth will be all over twitter MY OWN SENTIENT BEING ON THE INTERNET, and its like in that moment Ryan finally understood himself! AND THAT IT’S OKAY TO HAVE GOALS Shiny buffalo halt and try it again! Because its not like anyone ever actually says okay “a motorcycle is a good place to express yr emotions.”
LAUREN GRANT I’m thinking of the ultimate party a party where not only me, but everyone I know has lost the evil of original sin! I mean really this is how an angel cries! Crying is underrated! I LOVE IT. I LOVE TO CRY WHEN I’M WATCHING GLEE AND SOMEONE FINALLY ACCEPTS SOMEONE ELSE. I LOVE TO CRY WHEN FRIENDS APPEAR UNINVITED. I LOVE TO CRY WHEN I FEEL LIKE A BODILESS AMOEBA UNDER THE SURFACE OF LIFE’S SOMETIMES SCARY ATMOSPHERIC STREAM. I LOVE TO CRY WHEN MY DAD TALKS TO ME ABOUT THE XFILES AND ALIENS AND I FEEL MISUNDERSTOOD LIKE ZACH BRAFF IN GARDEN STATE. YES I TRULY LOVE THESE THINGS. And like aliens in orbit watching this ultimate party from the cosmos, I TOO WANT TO BE A PART OF SOMETHING. I too look at Cheez-Its and think to myself: vivid salty quadrilaterals just to share? At this ultimate party there would be Cheez-Its! White cheddar Cheez-Its! BIG Cheez-Its because sometimes you feel stupid eating two at once. Mini Cheez-Its OR to be PC “Cheez-It juniors” because yr hands are small! In my youth I would stuff my mouth full of Cheez-Its, then take a gulp of water with them still in my mouth. Truly a sensation like no other! A sensation reminiscent of an expected earthquake. A sensation I still hunt for to this day, always heading west to find a feeling of complete and pure surrender to something I’ve inflicted upon myself. I think I’m actually just looking for the coping strategy to go with that feeling because after all good parties there is always a come down. 14
KYLE MARES Kiss n take my time. Secrets that from sitting too long in my mind become wrist like and purple. I wish I would just fucking glitter. Come here. Look at this pie chart I’ve made about life and death and not kissing and TV. I used colors that people can easily identify with like black and white because if there is one thing in this world that is black and white its life and death and not kissing and TV.
JEAN MCCULLUM I am so not fake. Welcome to my not fake life, this is not a fake poem. Because this isn’t even a poem THIS IS MY LIFSTYLE. MY STREEDCRED IS GLACIAL. I’M A CREATOR OF CULTURE. I’M SASSY AND PRESENT. And yet I’d love to spend some time with you. Go into a corn maze and get lost for 4 ½ hours even though it should only take like 25-30 minutes - and get scared and call 911 and then go to Applebees OR - get not scared and live there for ever and make corn dresses. Did you see that? JUST MADE THIS POEM INTERACTIVE Swag. Keanu Reeves stops by with some weird candy from World Market. Boom. Celebrity Poem. BUT AS I SAID PREVIOUSLY THIS ISN’T A POEM THIS IS MY LIFESTYLE. HONESTLY ON MORNINGS LIKE THIS I’M JUST ALL THE PLANETS IN A BODY AND EVEN THEN I CAN’T CONTAIN IT.
STEPH MILLER A NUDE COCKROACH DESCENDS OUR STAIRCASE. I DRINK BLACK CHERRY SELTZER AND JUST FREAK THE SHIT OUT. You come howling n ready! I like you when you come into my heady. I like you in a weirdo everyday kind of way. I like you when you wear yr hair curly on Saturday. I like you when you make pizza. I like you when you get scared by Annaliese. I like you because you are my friend. And all the croptops we get to lend.
KATHRYN PETERSON The High School Musical DVD case is staring at me, is right there in arms length, is on my planet and I am taken back to hundreds of years ago when song and dance were the most respected of professions! Oh to be Zac Efron in tights he would be so okay with it. The case is right there and it really makes me feel like being in a movie forever I’d always know what was going to happen, there would be a necessary amount of suffering, but always REDEMPTION! Such dazzling catharsis! What I love about High School Musical is the location, it’s set in Albuquerque! NEW MEXICO! It’s so beautiful in New Mexico. That’s how the movie makes me feel and when it rains people can still kiss in it. But Kathryn do not pine to be in this movie. You are my favorite movie. I would skip class and actually pay the actual 13 dollars or more at Angelika theatre just to see you. Why? Because Kathryn, you, are that one daisy left on the alpine hillside after THE COLDEST WINTER EVER.
TINA SCOTT He said stretch marks and I flipped a shit. I mean are we really going to have this conversation on this island? The life of a spiritual jet setter is TAXING. IT’S LIKE I’M AN ARCTIC SNOW FOX IN THE TROPICS AND SOMETHING JUST DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT. The media knows I’m here. A lot of celebrities and religious figures say they regret nothing. WELL I keep regret in a treasure box. The outside sparkles. It’s sort of sexy. But I want to say the same thing and regret nothing because I’m trying to build a lifestyle/brand here, but if you held up a bazooka to me I’d be all like “What I regret is not telling people my own truth.” EAT THAT SNOW FOX.
TORIN VAN HOUTEN A boat. You bought a boat. But there are so many unused boats in this world. And you just you just brought a boat into yr life? I dunno. My sleep its for virgins and then everyone else. I mean where you gonna put the boat? Whatever. When you leave I keep an apple in yr place. They’re cheap and every morning I say Hello Apple and I can’t help it I love it’s a game for all ages it’s kinda become my thing. Look. We could discuss this for a quarter of an hour and I’ll still be human. I mean I prefer apples over boats. Wallpaper with little apples is great. Also wallpaper with pineapples peeling in my parent’s old house I will flood this whole house FUCKN HOUSED MAN IN THIS VERY CUL-DE-SAC THE HISTORY OF THE AGES CONTAINED IN A SINGLE APPLE. I mean is it a house boat? Lord, looks like I constructed an ideal. You captain this white tipped blue lipped fleet in my mind. You will go. Nautical and sort of commercial, but comfortable. And I remember that everything is a construct and its not like I actually have a default personality / mode of thought. If this boat is something you really care about then I’m here to empower you. JUST GIMME THE SEGA BEFORE YOU GET SAND IN IT AND I’LL DEAL WITH THE REVENGE OF CARING.
ALEX DANCKWERTH the pup felt critical about the world, about the pace mostly. this puppy wore a flannel collar, but visualized a different lifestyle. (we are all digging if you really wanna know pup.) but this is not a day for secrets! stay god – love and stay pup yr visual night parties are gonna be great. steve roggenbuck approaches pup in a dream, but steve roggenbuck has the voice of annie paradis TODAY IS THE EQUOINOX SO GO DANCING AND VISUALIZE YR SUCCESS. oh so in this poem I put you on a pier with a lil ukulele writing odes, you’re happy here, yr visions have finally aligned. pup pup pup dazzle
ABIGALE NEATE WILSON GLUTEN FREE GAL SEEKS RATTAIL FOR END OF THE WORLD. Welcome to the greatest heterotopia ever! What is the self, but gluten? It is honeysuckle n accessible here as we share tips on our own prospective downward dogs. Once you said I had a great warrior one, which you meant physically, but I choose to take mentally. ~ And since yr on my mind and I’m the only one that sees you and what you are doing, making yr beautiful prints and geometric shapes, have I created a heterotopia starring you? HAVE I TRANSCENDED? ~ And in downward dog even if, especially if it is the end of the world watching the end of the world head on the world that is ending in honeymoon suites, motel rooms, hospitals, asylums, prisons, rest homes, cemeteries let it burn and dirt
LANCELOT RUNGE I. You can meet me where it rains and we will build shelter not to protect us from the monster, but shelter for us and the monster. If we held the monster it won’t be half as scary, the only thing I’ll ever promise. A feather split down the middle. Reality. II. One time in yr kitchen on Myrtle you threw pasta up on the ceiling and asked me to watch it not fall. I watched. I watched a long time. That was my birthday and it was great and I was blonde and twenty. Next time make me alioi. III. We are on a Midwest midnight highway with some sweet guitar we’ve both got sunglasses on both howling like wolf pups and yr making up a song and I’m doin that thing with my hands out the window and even if there was a monster here we’d offer it a root beer heck you could see a monster in me
FRANCESCA DEMUSZ I dunno man caring for a seahorse is a pretty big deal. I mean caring for anything really. TRUST ME I’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR A VERY LONG TIME HOWEVER, what do you do when the place you really want to be = the most dangerous place to be ??? The center of a thunderhead. PIMP MY LIFE. The airplane hovers clear the entire forest. On film, the forest in flames. The sea did this, I’m not sad
MARLO CLINGMAN In Brooklyn, in the tub a false image of rain. First watch me in the water as I smoke. My history is not here, but near the Blue Ridge cold old rain, Marlo I have not seen you in years now. Time is plant like and tangible. I can see this in the bonsai plants my father’s been working on as a “bonsai apprentice” yea, he uses little scissors. I remember you, silhouetted by the high Virginian trees that shadowed our houses, cicadas falling out of them like a hot weird dream spent in the pool pale, but never dull the way the sun sets in front of yr house. Once there was a snake in the tree right above my front door. My dad used a shovel or something ridiculous like a pitchfork to get the snake down. I watched from the bathroom window on the second floor kind of hoping: a) that I’d never be able to leave or b) if I did, there would always be a sense of excitement when I walked out the door. There’s a photo of us from that movie we made I’m brushing yr hair my fingernails were probably painted black n looking like I don’t wanna be there. What a lie. You lit up, brilliant. This season is new Marlo, so go, do everything you want.
KAT SLOOTSKY Welcome to the big caffeine party, a thousand things at once, a thousand islands in a petri dish! There is no room in my mind to hate people when I’m this paranoid. BUT I HAVE THE SKILLSET TO GET THINGS DONE. I AM HUMBLED BY THE NIGHT. Pigments lost and gained, lost and gained. As a human I want these things, as a girl I try not to give a shit. I WANT LIFE LIKE A WATER VOLCANO. Everybody gets lonely fauntlet, do not feel separate. My window is no darker than others. I wait and I wanna know myself and the pigments, but I stress myself out. I look into the future and I see a giant mosaic calm, calm. They always leave when you don’t want them to. So, then, you must sparkle. Up at 5 am to hear the birds I functioned fine. I’ve been on my own for awhile, again, fine. Look for these indicators white against blue. Be here. In the snow, the idea that nothing need ever exist again My hands falling asleep in the middle of a frenzy. Get in here and yr friends this is what I work for. Stay with me and we will have Oreos and watch whatever’s on TBS FAUNTLET, IT REALLY IS ALL ABOUT RESILIANCE.
RYAN OSKIN Bony labyrinth, spirals n luv all humans, all tricks laid bare. If the axis is completely undetermined then the cochlea looses all merit. So sound dissolves into a dream I wanna have about some heavy shit a thousand boy versions of Fibonacci sitting in a field, just sitting there adding. Corn corn corn. Magic, I think, I look at one of the Fibonaccis and I whisper magic and all he can do is pick up a pinecone. Boy he opens his palm and it is the uncurling fern of a pine cone, the flowering of an artichoke, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple and this is why the boy can love me. I use the law to love you he will say, but I will spiral in time and turn into a typhoon or a nautilus. I’d probably crawl into that dead shell and try to sleep. Where is flesh but spun and spun and at all angles, perfection. It’s important to give yrself some me time even if it feels like it’s inside of a dead shell.
ANNALIESE DOWNEY A swan that had been buried alive, reborn in winter. This is the best. Glowing crystal. It’s like you helped me become the diva I always knew I could be. So if you have to go I’ll be up in the meadow, meet me there. Sensitive moments in Ridgewood. Meet me anywhere, Meet me cold and molting, laughing or pearling in Paris! uH YEAH PARIS. BROOKLYN ROYALTY. I’m on my way and yr on yr way and we are never doomed. Sensitive thing you could walk into the black wood and come out with some sick tattoos and do it again and you’d be fine. I LOVE YOU LIKE THE WAY THEY LOVED THE HARVEST IN THE OLDEN DAYS. ~*ANNIE’S SURIVIAL TIPS*~ 1. Being this famous is not that hard. 2. Water does not lose its purity because of a bit of a weed floating in it. 3. WEAR YR WINGS.
IAN LYONS Oh holiness! Oh oh oh weeping willow holiness oriental rugs holiness Diet Coke holiness brother holiness you w/ all yr great tank tops holiness the new iPhone holiness dog haircuts holiness checkin yrself out holiness is leaving the window open when it rains sleeping w/ lavender watching 30 rock (w/ snacks) loving someone eating cookie dough holiness. Actually just being a part of the day is holiness. You know the moment you walk in a door changes someone’s life? Also feeling lethargic apathetic APOCOLYPTIC HOLINESS growing dissident holiness (and really, more often than not, people prefer cheese over politics). These feelings are normal also romantic and whenever I feel bitter I try to remember my own holiness. I mean I didn’t even ask for 10 fingers or working organs and look! A tornado, Best Buy, sorrow, sparrows, a first kiss, a movie with Bruce, Sylvester, Jet, Chuck, Arnold these things - they just happen! They arise all the same, illuminating! This could be a sacred understanding of the cosmos or because I just had breakfast either way THIS IS A TIME TO CHERISH.
SHANNON LEE AND SUNNY LEE A JOURNEY! A JOURNEY! LIFE IS HAPPENING I’LL LIVE IT I SWEAR RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE What if we went to the edge of the swamp? (All the time this is something everyone does). SIDE NOTE: There will always be a sminkling to run away from, in the doorway, in the stable, in the mall the sminkling just stands there sassy, rude, hairy in a bad way and this is why I suggest a journey not to run away from the sminkling, but you know to just take some time. So I get on my pony and you on yr pony side saddle not for patriarchal/ political reasons, but strictly aesthetical we look good in dresses in a swamp long dresses and cowboy hats selling our hair. A REBIRTH LIKE NO OTHER. Photo us. I mean How else are we going to experience post grad? I’m tired again. The pony demands a lot from me bold sweet off white pony and I keep thinking about the sminkling what swamp did you come from? NO LEISURE QUESTIONS. Shannon SUNNY! We are depth and prophet THERE WILL BE BOYS. Boys with the most dazzling tooth rind that come forth upon horses, upon homes. 30
DO NOT FEEL TOO EMBARASSED DO NOT FEEL TOO EMPOWERED EITHER when the moon comes down peculiar and confident I suggest swimming laps between the water trees, swim laps in the swamp like its easy like yr learning something that the sminkling could never know because there are so many things to learn and we will keep meeting each other all over again to laugh about the sminkling. Like the day Lucky died and you and Alex and someone else were sitting in the sun and I put my head in yr lap and it was nice because I think I just needed someone to know that I knew about death you are calm and fantastic and look great in a wig a lady amongst beasts a lady amongst sminklings.
MARIETTE LAMSON (come over soon I made a batch of strawberry peach kombucha that will be ready on Saturday!!!) I was nineteen and we were sitting on that steel sculpture in the middle of the garden, talking about being sad and a mutual person. I really wanted to be yr friend and have nothing to do with anything or anyone that could ever make you sad (including said mutual person). Now that night is cabins away. And for all I know that sculpture could have been a cabin to feel sorry in with sorry sunrises and sorry pancakes. The grass was wet and stuck to me and you talked about trails and Boulder I thought to myself: Woah. She’s really cool. Spring is distracting I’d do my best for you. AND YET I SEEM TO FIND MY WAY BACK INTO DEVIL COUNTRY EVERY SUMMER. An eternal symmetry. Now October I’m thinking about a song in a cabin. Books we could make and see beauty: a doe and her babe. GLITTERING MOMMY. Honeysuckles for the dogs. Impossible and perfect what comes out of a cabin. Even self inflicting dreams: I AM A TUMBLEWEED THAT IS SO TIRED. I AM A TUMBLEWEED THAT IS ANIMAL. I AM A TUMBLEWEED THAT IS FREE AT SEA. MARIETTE WE BOTH KNOW THAT POETRY IS JUST ABOUT THE FAME AND THE MONEY AND THE BOYS AND THE BOATS. 32
JAKE ASCHENBRENNER I AM in the mountains. I LIVE in the city. I create. I’m lazy. I love people. I don’t hate, but I do get very frustrated with, myself. SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE THE BUDDHA IS WATCHING ME FROM MY CLOSET WITH A BURRITO AND INSTAGRAM, A FUCKING INDECIPHERABLE RAIN. SO THEN I AM AN ORCA CHOMPING AT THE SEA MY VERY OWN SELF HELP ARMAGEDDON. YOU know what I mean. I liked it when you said California sounds like a flower. The only way time ever passed between us, was when you got a haircut or a beard. Naropa got into my head in a good way you too. That paw or little iron bear claw or fin I sent you away with, whatever it is I cast a spell on it. Safety spell etc. yr welcome etc. JAKE. I am with you - saving the universe on a farm on top of Queens - making dinners that new age people would really like - watching the slowest sunrise ever after my very successful BRING YR OWN BEARD birthday party
just don’t forget about me because I would hate that also in regards to mental shit: ALL PERFECTION IS ANIMAL.
JOHN CURTIN The pamplemousse is a solitary creature he paints watercolor still lifes, watches Breaking Bad, and eats a croissant for every meal. Actually all he ever does is think about croissants. Croissants with jam. Croissants in the bath. Even t-shirts with croissants making silly faces! Sometimes he types croissant into Youtube just to see what other people are doing and thinking about croissants. But most of all what he loves to do is to say the word croissant in a funny voice inside his head. He could do this until the sun is no longer the sun, except there is no one inside of his log cabin that he can share this with. He feels stuck. He wants a world in which one could transcend all pastries! My mind is the opposite of my mind when shit gets real the pamplemousse told the anti-fracking volunteers because they are the only ones that come this deep into the wood. It is as if people expect something completely different when they come looking for a pamplemousse, he told the young adults, am I not good enough? Well, said Ron who hadn’t said a word this whole time, we create our own idealized versions of ourselves based on what others think of us and when they aren’t met we tend to feel as if we have let others down when in reality we are fine just the way we are. Wait so then is a tree ever a tree? The pamplemousse responded. This is becoming a very dangerous poem, Ron turned and looked at me. 35
CULLEN ARMET Say you had a mustache then what? Fields of diet coke! This is an Americun feeling a thousand stallions ago it was nothing and now here I am talking about this Americun penus in a very real/logical way. LIKE A FERN. You see the Americun penus is unlike any other penus, some days it’s vulnerable thinking about clouds and other days it’s just bored and rude. The day is determined by multiple causes and effects one of them definitely being the presence of a mustache. I am channeling some serious light, but the Americun penus doesn’t know what to say. So I found a really nice farm for the Americun penus theres plenty of space for it to run around theres even a porch and everything. I guess in the depths of an Americun penus is a mine there is gold and truthes and puppies I don’t want to actually own.
HADEN OLMSTED At the steering-wheel a possum (which is me) goes into the night as my first fear followed by five other things that don’t let me sleep: red, gray, hands, meat, student loans. Into the night I’d take my steering-wheel and just go with only a pillar to stop me. I have thought of people as a pillar before a column supporting itself. I always want them on pedestals always. Amongst a forest of sequoias fuck this I think I’m dying. In the middle of this forest I just rumble straight through that sequoia, that accessible pillar just to get all the feelings everyone’s having out. Everything has so many feelings. Have you ever actually heard the way a seal moans? When a seal moans that is the emotion of 100 gallons of water rushing through a pipe, 100 mothers thrusting 100 pounds of meat through a pipe, beautiful beautiful beautiful I’m losing something.
JOHN KROPA Whatever it is, it stares, past the breaking point and I like you. A palm for the creature, whatever it is: Summer eroding. It is summer we wanted. Roots, we wanted roofs, ginger, and just some sort of functional attitude adjustment, but now on walks we bend nothing. Now, we take on everything: an image of an image: a tulip within a tulip a human within a human. Grasslands on a virtual scale burning up there is something. Down here take yr palm put dirt in it put girl in it go to a body of water and look at it because you wont always be able to just do that, just walk somewhere and look at it because you want to. You’ll get old. This is special. The world becoming a peach, special eroding like an afterthought. Yr mind is full of bears and plums, John you even look like a 90’s movie star, but I’m really here as a virtual poet to 38
remember that really sexy poem you wrote once about a horse. The days are full of that, of fruit. And the nights? Let them belong to the night.
ROSS GENDELS So I was thinking of what I should pray for next and although we are just gooey atoms boppin about on a globe isolated in celestial space I still cannot seem to name one con associated with this porous blackness BECAUSE HERE THERE ARE SO MANY FOODS TO THINK ABOUT MOON PHASES TO STARE AT PEOPLE TO KISS. It really is about what gives you fever. Jewels, cults, games. This is a magical time and any con that exists is a muddy crystal. THERE IS NO TRANSFORMATION W/O FAILURE. BEING LONELY FEELING INADEQUATE BECAUSE ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE SO TALENTED AND HERE I AM TRYN TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT FOR ALL BEINGS IN MY PJS BECAUSE OTHERWISE I AM A BAD PERSON. NO IT REALLY IS JUST BALANCING ANGELS. ROSS you always surprise me whenever I run into you! ROSS YOU JEWEL, GLOW ROSS GLOW. THERE ARE 3 THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD TRY: 1) POLLO CON QUESO OR SOY CHIKN W/ DAIYA (which is just cheese that has tapioca instead of dairy) 2) ENDURING LIFEZ VERTIGO 3) PHOTOGRAPHY.
KYLIE MCMORRAN Effervescent baby! Tree holes. Scapegoats. What doesn’t sparkle? Imma captain. Imma drinking pumpkin rooibos tea from Trader Joes what’s better than that? Howabout: PUMPKIN BUTTER FROM TRADER JOES AND BEING IN THE FUCKIN MOMENT. I’ve been on penicillin for the past 4 days and things are really getting done I’m feeling confessional. For example: I AM AT THE MERCY OF A NEED FOR LIMITLESS LOSS WHATS BETTER THAN THAT? Life is spooky, cute. What’s better than lying on my bed in autumn singing Lykke Li’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s silver spring like I fuckn deserve it? WHATS BETTER THAN RIGHT NOW? A baby wearing glasses is one of the top five cutest things ever. KYLIE YOU ARE NOT ONLY THE SPRING, but the Spring before it has arrived – the memory of Spring. THE PHOTOS OF SPRING. SEE HOW YOU TRANSCEND SPACE AND TIME? Friendship is an effervescent lake in Iceland with surround sound below with Kanye below oh lake I want to be in you! Mountains on all sides I FEEL SO FECUND AND REALISTIC. Seriously, tombs for miles this is the year I said death a lot death of stupid shit 41
coz up until 2012 there was fire and love and god and legs and I think I just wanted it all to blow up. SOMETIMES WE ALL THINK WE SHOULD LEAVE THE COUNTRY. Horseshoe crabs mating for 5 miles is one of the most horrific things in the world. SUBLIME HOW AT THIS POINT YOU ARE IN YR LIFE. Go ahead and tell people you are my muse! I will tell you how when I saw Annie The Musical on Broadway with my parents this weekend I cried the entire time because THOSE LITTLE GIRLS WERE SO TALENTED AND WHEN SANDY CAME ON STAGE I WASN’T EVEN A HUMAN ANYMORE.
JILLIAN BILLARD i have woken mystics coming to me cornering me giving the guidelines of black magic to me in real life a thousand roses at once my poetry is foxy they say is so gendered they say so what maybe i’ll just be a girly satanic water volcano for Halloween allow for one moment of dazzle in yr daily routine this day is foxy sweeter than water so why can’t i just appreciate things w/o suffering ? two sisters naked holding hands in front of a volcano BOLANO SAID THAT except i act like i had the same dream existence is such an owl thing the only thing that makes the blood calms the blood
JOSHUA WRANGLER Bugs are fearless. They’re all over the place on couches, in dreams, at parties. They are focused and there are so many varieties! Ladybug junebug firebug stinkbug greenbug doodlebug luvbug they’re always there. Being. Chilling. And me? I feel sort of hopeless today. It could be New York, it’s probably me. Cardinals in flight. Beauty like a spear through me. Oh terrestial despair! This beauty like a pear. I feel like I’m in someone else’s coming of age movie. Ceremonies are important. Really Cool Be Yrself Breakfast Ceremonies. Therapy therapy bug therapy purple therapy fence. Today ended up being one of those days where I had to be like: I’m not gonna say no on TV in front of everybody. 44
AMELIA EVARD the sea has always been this way we calculate bones for who what people wait what people MY PRIMAL PLEASURES HAVE GONE OUT OF CONTROL holograms of a sand dollar projected on a tombstone a holy one does sometimes fall like this dog into the sea i’m getting better or at least i’m not getting worse autumn one hundred times in a row bored of that honeysuckle bones dogs into the sea again I calculate or simply “I can’t” the level of intimacy sky rockets at sea level I act like I’m below it curled up i don’t want yr high I try to succeed through the use of symbols bones for the morning and the people that count he scared me with his sincerity that boy cannot swim they can only swim if you lend them something anyways 45
BRITT MOSELEY this violence makes me sense violent spirit animals tricked out flamed what they wanna do answer: the berkshires! a mule looking between a gap in the trees good lord I need to stop falling in love w/ everyone spirit animals in traffic STOP THEM I WANT MINE am I dumb is there something actually wrong w/ me or am I just spending a lot of money the SPIR-AMS (spirit animals) and their functional one-two-step is not something I want I need I keep seeing a lot of fur lined people and things which isn’t a problem the problem is never actually the problem it is actually the spirit
KENTON DEANGELI There’s nothing quite like teens. There’s nothing quite like waking up, planetbound. There’s nothing quite like good-looking teens. There’s nothing quite like feeling as if this was the moment where you had finally ruined yr entire life, but really you just had a lot of caffeine and that’s why everything seems so neon n shit. There’s nothing quite like listening to Akon’s Soul Survivor. There’s nothing quite like pumpernickel. There’s nothing quite like crying. There’s nothing quite like James Franco. There’s nothing quite like eating pumpkin seeds while laying on yr back and dozing off to Halloweentown 2. There’s nothing quite like getting a double-digit number of notifications on Facebook. There’s nothing quite like snow. There’s nothing quite like nutmeg. There’s nothing quite like a clove cigarette when yr 16 and you gotta get outta this town. There’s nothing quite like a clove cigarette when yr 21 and you gotta get outta this city. There’s nothing quite like velvet. There’s nothing quite like a good deal. There’s nothing quite like assuming you’ll get it right and realizing that you’ll never actually be able to put yr bags down. There’s nothing quite like a cage. There’s nothing quite like a peanut butter Twix bar. There’s nothing quite like wings.
JUAN CARLOS DUQUE the tongue the guitar the tongue the truck i’m blasted thorny flowers bloom the truck needs more gas and a fox stands akimbo in the intersection fox i see yr emotional delays do not dwell there is no need to nest quite yet no need to set up camp like that w/ a guitar all alone you and like two bob dylan songs it’s okay fox fuck everything else the hunt the dogs the rabbit it’s all in limbo night falls on the tongue a rose underneath the bed beneath brooklyn fox no need to worry you have gumption and i have a lot of solitude chrysanthemums in the dusk how beautiful not cooped up but molting i broke the fence open set up yr camp w/ me fox the mind plants the sun names a new moon tonight i’m grateful and really excited about it i want that open gate that green green meadow
MATTHEW SHERLING Gold gold light, October, and the epiphany of A JOURNEY WITHOUT SKY that came after a really great piece of toast or her: Lambs on a cliff overlooking a cove watch me unearth the crown, the gold from the vegetation. A moment of silence fucking overused and swollen. I get so used to my cove, my cave, making maps just to understand the arch the days and the gold. There is no silence ever in my cave any sound that enters has no place to rest, it just keeps moving and swirls like a vine. A vine that grows without light. I have no idea without light I have no jurisdiction no love no moments without light. Into the spiral one hundred poems for the ether, for the gold. Either they wanna watch me or they don’t, but I know Beyonce is watching me and if she hasn’t she should because I work it. I wanna win everything.
RYAHN SCIAINO SO I MADE THE EXECUTIVE DECISION TO STOP CALLING MYSELF CRAZY IT’S UNPRODUCTIVE AND INSTEAD CHANNEL MY ENERGY TOWARD MORE POSITIVE THINGS SUCH AS: this gargantuan desire to be here now like really here like a dead roach in one of my running shoes and I’m not freaking out kind of HERE. I want to be foam the ocean kind I wanna be a teal blue foam and love the sunrise the shark and the tourist. I wonder if Tom Cruise would like to be the foam. I think he would prefer to be the wave or Kelly Slater or better than Kelly Slater. I do not want to be better than Kelly Slater. Everybody has their place and their time like a tourniquet. Oh my god I just Google-imaged tourniquet. I just Google-imaged tourniquet and now I have thirteen feelings about it: - a rising red sun - going to the mall - wearing a helmet - wearing a helmet inside of a mall - watering holes - house party - fireworks w/ a loved one - woah - religion - fancy - on the road - horror - FRIENDS ARE A MUST HAVE
THERÉS ANDERSSON Things that give me severe panic attacks: cake, black roses, heat, that guy, peanut butter, books, feeling like my nails are growing faster. Also today I realized that the quilt on my bed is getting thinner. Even un-alive things can die SO I’M GONNA GET REAL WHILE EVERYONE’S WATCHING. Panic when away from the shore. Panic not of the storm, but of what makes up the storm. They taste like spoon, mulch, sour sugar. After the first time I recognized myself in a mirror, a bombardment of silently white mornings, hot glass, things made of hair, a hand on the lower back. I can avoid most of these attacks if I just think of October on my Sierra Club 2012 Wilderness Calendar. THAT IS THE LIFE. All Vermont n shit orange trees I’ve never even seen before! It’s funny when you’d rather be somewhere you’ve never actually been instead of where you actually are. I mean what if you ended up hating it and it was wet and and no one there wanted to talk to you and you had the wrong currency and things kept getting stuck in yr eye? I want to want to be where I am. Belly down let me lay here. Someone comes in my room: What is she doing? Oh that’s just Annie she lays on top of that calendar to feel better about herself. Yea, so I panic my friends, my sister, my parent’s new dog I panic the trees sometimes just by being there. 51
I gotta be like: woah Annie pull those horns in. Please just let me lay here until dawn or at least until someone texts me.
JOHN F. SIMON JR. Why should I not enjoy today? A floral stillness in the sheets. Dappled noonstretch. I stayed up too late last night. It actually got to a point, after I thought really hard about Okcupid, ate a pastry in the dark, Youtubed a clip of one of the characters of Parks and Recreation drinking whiskey and making a face like a weird cat, and Google-imaged nebulas, where there was nothing else to do, but sleep. I think at this point that’s my ideal. Not insomnia. Stillness. Like in a cornfield so still I can yell YOLO and feel really great about it. Like its up to me. Like velvet velvet velvet ecstasy, like I break into an aquarium ecstasy grapefruit ecstasy tell me things ecstasy the sun in my eyes ecstasy new socks ecstasy what people like about other people ecstasy the rosebush is on fire ecstasy push harvest glow trap love bake ecstasy ECSTASY EVEN ON WEDNESDAYS. Wow you know, I gotta say, I feel really open.
KENNETH LEVIN Not dead, but definitely dying this is how we are in the wild, but inside my head, inside my apartment I’m building that day castle. I get too comfortable. I panic. The castle is made of styrofoam, the future a ditch covered in mold. HAVE I VOCALIZED THE ABYSS? Okay clear water think of sequoias and just breathe think of a really beautiful place like a lake between two mountains calm okay is there anyone there? No. Shit it’s beautiful, but I’m alone. I’m imagining it for me as a sort of self-supportive exercise, but because I am doing this for me THERE’S NO ONE ELSE THERE. On top of feeling stressed out I’ve now become lonely. I get a little scared: a colloquial ostracism so digital so piercing so Icelandic that I’m left on the carpet purring and scowling at the same time. I need: a blanket on top of me, mom, chocolate. Wanna love the sky w/ people around and in it. I lay on the couch and visualize my future self 54
while looking at my present legs and I think about them with no tattoos okay for fine pretty wedding photos etc. I visualize last night and everyone I was with had that extra oomph: silversilk, like pearls they were warm they were burning like Alaska and ants. I was sorry to go wasted for the day. I’m gonna stop and just dream about that for a minute.
CAROL SMITH My antics to self-soothe create the most comfortable jail in the world where I keep thinking of that movie: Martha Marcy May Marlene. I identify with that the whole cult thing would be special. Okay zoom in on me: It’s 2013. I’ve just graduated Pratt Institute with a BFA in Feelings. May is a circle, June rising, July a wasteland, August closing in on the wasteland of my self-preserving antics via the internet and an obscene number of videos of myself. I spend the days sleeping in my parent’s guestroom watching the Life Aquatic muted, eating Trader Joe’s nut mixes out of a glassbowl, (I take the time to pour the trail mixes into the glassbowl because then it’s easier to see the nut to raisin ratio and know what I’m getting into) and also latch-hooking - it just isn’t cutting it. I’m like, this summer blows. So then come September I find a farm on the internet and head upstate like way upstate and turns out it’s a cult. I learn about their fucked up ways, their woodsy antics, their mason jars, their beards. It’s like the family I never needed, but I end up loving them anyways. We all make mistakes they just do it repetitively. I become super introspective, I have weird flashbacks, the kids belong to everyone, the cult leader even writes a song for me and sings it at me, a lot. I guess after a while it would get weird. 56
THIS POINT IS TO AVOID THIS SITUATION START YR OWN CULT BASED ON HOW GREAT YOU ARE W/ YOU AS THE ONLY MEMBER EVER, BE YR OWN CULT LEADER, BE YR OWN FOLLOWER YOU DESERVE IT.
SHELBY BURDGE I know too many goodlooking people. It makes me wanna steal big blossoming things. I’m a tired horse. I want help. Blah blah blah the stable is now open. With him the relationship was a horse just standing there, like I was watching a horse standing on TV and me with a clicker, each click changing the color of its coat except it was still the same beautiful fucking horse. Horse, I know where you go, I go there too. I used to not be okay with sleeping in a room with scissors in it, feeling like a box with tiny holes in it, tiny nebulas. Little horses gallop around the box as it levitates in a canyon and the big blossoming things echo inside the box into the canyon, things about how I think my friends and all people, even the good-looking ones, are brilliant creatures and so I wanna make a conscious effort for all beings and you, wherever you are, to BLOSSOM CREATURE BLOSSOM.
MILLY DIONNE The northern lights could make anyone horny. I am horny and watching TV, the cartoon Balto where the sled dogs are crazy smart and just decide to make their own northern lights with broken bottles and their paws, making light with their paws in the snow. You snow you now everything: a cardinal in the snow, sun passing through the cardinal. What if this happened digitally? The north the lights, a digital get down. Speaking of get down Taylor Swift’s new album just came out. I wonder what you’d think of it. I like the new music video mostly about never getting back together. COLD TAYLOR SWIFT. I can tell the band is having a really great time, I felt this even on the computer screen. Little sister, little sister on the screen a tree with blossoms. Little sister to be lonely is truthful, possible even with the blossoms. Even when the screen falls asleep and the saver comes on twinkling. Go on. 59
It’s not about everything being okay. It’s about making light. I dunno maybe we can express ourselves w/o words.
SEBASTIAN “Blossoms on the sill” I wrote it in red. Trying to help everyone, everything ends up glazed over and in red. I often just stand there “oh the day is drying everything up!!” whining I’m like by a farmhouse or something all the time and there is Mothercat. Wolfbat meet Mothercat, I say to myself coz I like wolves and sleeping has been hard lately. Mothercat lets my weird wings pet her in the barn she doesn’t ask for more milk or fish or whatever cats like she just gives and gives from the haystack. Oh exoteric Mothercat! We can all understand you better yet we can be you with the help of mechatronics seriously we could actually be you robot Mothercat people, but whatabout the politics of Mothercat her facebook philosophy and lunch proverbs we could really just have those and become that purring nest that rocking ship a Mothercat to all beings she is home from a distance she gives. Mothercat is not submissive 61
sometimes I’m submissive, but Mothercat does not constantly analyze herself from the outside nor does she question her existence or feel guilty for student loans or eat her feelings or talk down to herself or need a Fathercat no. Because you can actually imagine this you can actually be this. I still feel like a wolfbat but I mean these songs will always be about us.
CATE DOUGLAS Compartmentalizing shit I wanted a seismograph of him and mines relationship amiRite? Please! Take me to the river. I don’t wanna think about anything else. I better live in the future, a lexicon of foxes, thickets, Nicki Minaj, flannel, sad men. Yeah I want this. Even the sky so very white how could it be so white that I see nothing else? Today I’m going to dance. The dance will be a sort of performance piece an exegesis on myself holy girl we aren’t un-broken that has become clear GENIUS OR NOT? Yesterday I realized for the first time that I can have life right now a better version of myself is not going to come along and put this version to sleep. Swans in salt water. I am the better version naked branched hollow full. And you Cate neighbor artist sister 63
I’ve known you here the longest. Thank you. You have the day you’ve always wanted. My brother, Luke Paradis, also known on twitter as Whasky P and a member of the Pu-Tang Clan (SHOUT OUT) always says to me you do you so imma say YOU DO YOU CATE. Letting the weather happen thrilling how life is actually here. THIS IS COAL MINER’S WORK AND WE WILL GET DIRTY.
FITZ PEACE BE TO FRANKENSTORM AS IT APPROACHES MY BURROUGH! Since it’s the apocalypse last night I said ‘antichrist’ in a church on accident and then I felt super inappropriate like a butthead like a Ziploc bag instead of tupperware but then I was like WELL AT LEAST I REALIZE WHAT I’VE DONE AND SINCE I FEEL BAD I’M NOT ANTISOCIAL. In moments such as these I try to ACCEPT ALL PHENOMENA SAY HELLO TO THEM SMILE AT THEM. OH FRANKENSTORM OH MOISTURE IT WILL BE WHATEVER IT MUST BE AND HURRICANE AND TORNADO PEACE BE TO YOU CLOUDS! YES I WANT TO BE THERE. I really love it when people say “oh I wish you would have been there because you would have loved this” and then they tell me something that happened that day coz its like wow you were spending time thinking of me in a positive way? Warm bathes, Netflix, baguettes. HELL TO THE YEA. Today was warm in a weird way. I bought candy corn from party city. BULLSHIT. IT’S PARTY CITY IN MY MIND EVERY DAY. HOLLA HOLLA. SO MANY STRANGERS I WANNA KNOW! FRUITS! SWEET THINGS! I WILL CONTINUE TO BE STRANGER after the storm SO MANY BROKEN UMBRELLAS. WHAT BECOMES OF THEM?
THE PEACE OF A KITTEN IN SLUMBER DURING THE APOCOLYPSE WE SHOULD ALL STUDY, KNOW AND BECOME.
CINDY CAPRIO Tonight I decided to make sweet potatoes coz it’s almost Halloween and it’s become brisk! But this briskness is tainted because I know its only colder because of Sandy The Storm. I WILL WAKE UP ON MONDAY AND THERE WILL BE A HURRICANE IN BROOKLYN: ME I mean I probably would have made sweet potatoes anyways regardless of the Holiday because they’re really good for you OH MY GOD A MOTH JUST LANDED ON MY SCREEN refreshing to realize that yr surrounded by living things all the time even if you don’t actually know them on an intimate level people ferns goats, I want the storm to hit. I want to not recognize myself. Colder change is cold. I could make the leaves change just by thinking they did thinking the tiled floor worn and ugly and mine. I look at everything knowing I’ll never have it again like that like a pet I am a chow chow in the hands of a merciless Perez Hilton rain cloud I fight but I become a passive puffy pup when necessary the waves cradling and coaxing in a breathing pattern, its deliciousness transcribed by the coast guards the coast guards that will hear this poem through the sea and will become angry and grateful at the same time as they cry and taste the salt.
ELIE YUDEWITZ Apple says fuck this my own facebook page or nothing at all. Let them like me let them rant let them stalk let them want. I am Apple famous flawed stolen but not spoken for. THERE’S NO OTHER WAY AROUND SAYING RECTUM, ELIE. Why is the word rectum so clean to say so crisp so clear? Unsettled by this by language and being drawn to apple-flavored things Apple scorns all mirrors and means of self reflection and by default self protection. As the clouds seep lower the desire to be famous dwindles. At this point evacuating seems pointless. Apple goes outside and the birds go berserk as a wave crashes over the world. OCTOBER 28TH 2012. No one will ever know the true story behind Apple. He just fell a lot hitting people in the head. The musings the bad seeds the real nutrition of Apple can be found 68
in hit pop songs in the dark in the skin.
ADRIENNE LAVALLEY I’M LOOKING AT WEBMD TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF I BROKE MY PINKY TOE OR NOT AND INSTEAD I STUMBLED ON TO A QUESTIONAIRE ABOUT HOW TO FIGURE OUT IF YR DYING OR NOT?? This storm is making me really introspective and aware of my body also I watched The 5th Element that also made me really introspective and aware of my body especially when some robot monster was like “time doesn’t matter, life matters” SO DOPE. During the movie my cup of tea was near Annaliese’s computer and the fan in her computer was making the fortune on the yogi tea bag flutter but I had no idea I thought it was death or melancholia or the end of the world manifested in such a small small thing.
people all like o we're gonna lose power but lol it's not like we've ever had power over anything when yu really think about it #sandy #life I tweeted that today. The incense I’m burning reminds me of last spring when I tried to date everyone and I wasn’t really sneaky about it at all. Even if a tree crashed into my window I can only imagine it as being pretty anti-climatic 70
it’s coz I’m tired. How am I so tired? I guess I did important things today. I made hurricane pumpkin pancakes which are pumpkin pancakes you make during a hurricane. After college when I try out for jobs will they say we want yr thesis and we want poems about hurricane pancakes no but I will give it to them I will give it to them. One time someone in my apartment they bought sugar-free maple syrup I didn’t say anything.
ALICIA HARDING A loud clock and a fake candle with a fake light I wanna be at the ocean.
CHELSEA MCCORRY So many things I wanna blurt out for you: THE BEST LACKADAISCAL MOMENTS ON YR PARENT’S CURB storms of Virginia storm my heart going down down in an earlier round PRIMORDIAL PANCAKES the hydrangea amongst my weeds that veggie pizza yr mom made with Pillsbury roll dough and cream cheeze, god I was obsessed. God I’ve been crazy/mopey girl but in that moment of creation of the worry even you love me. YO THAT GIRL WAS BEAUTIFUL BUT SHE WAS CRAZY shout out to adowney THE GREATIST WISH JUST HAPPENED IN A POEM. Anyone who feeds on majesty becomes majestic: You need never worry or burrow. Steady like the phases of the moon. Yr gonna get shit done and you’ll get all the fun jobs. Darling girl a decade really??? You and yr photos you take still beauty still truth. Yr too pretty and nice and warm to be my rock. Yr like a koala or something. But I feel like yr always the one doing the holding. So it’s like yr my koala nanny pillow deamgurrrl. 73
N O R M A L. There are times when I want to analyze and moan and laugh and you’re not here. You’re sleeping. Or you’re at school. Or you’re with other people that like you as much as I do. And this is what it is: you saying lackadaisical since the beginning of time me trying to always run away and you saying why leave. You are right and lovely and ohmygod there’s a mouse in my room which I don’t hate however at the beginning I would never love but the other night at this diner on Bowery Stephen said that if you deicide you are going to love something instead of hating it then it makes it ten times easier to put up with SO I’LL NAME THE MOUSE CHELSEA.
NORA EWAYS It’s not like you try to break people’s hearts you just know what you want. Same way I know that when I come home in 2 weeks I’m gonna watch yr cable and eat yr mom’s tabbouleh. SHUKRAN. As yr sober friend I feel like my reasoning for not liking you before I liked you was because you have curly hair and yr funny lol but srsly we are. Remember that one time yr friends thought I was tripping acid even though I wasn’t I was just being social and when we asked why they said it was just coz my hair was “so crazy”? Okay or like inviting people over and not telling them I’ve smoked weed with access to the food network lord like two little puppies or something and YOU KNOW I would invest time with a dude that wore ankle bracelets like the friendship kind not the jail kind maybe you like the jail kind DON’T HATE THE PLAYER DON’T HATE THE GAME. 75
HANNAH LEVINSON Hannah have you ever had Swedish tea logs b4? They Are So Dope. Every holiday season my family makes them. They are a delicious buttery flaky cinnamon roll apocalypse breakfast treat. The first bite tastes like a dream revealed. Eating a Swedish Tea Log is like wearing a warm L.L. Bean sweater that looks great on you while laying on one of those giant fake polar bear rugs from Costco. But my family isn't Swedish. We're like Irish and a thousand other cosmos/dirt/ moons/ elephants/sea creatures ya ya ya u r BLOND BLOND BLOND luv it I was blond once it was chill, but it just wasn’t *~me~*. UGH I can't WAIT for Thanksgiving. It's only one single day, but it casts such a great spell. AMERICA IS SO WEIRD when I think of it and Pittsburgh just seems so ""tough” “ I hear the word in my gut: dirt, Pittsburgh, deep, radish. Pittsburgh and Root Vegetables. It just makes sense. It’s always sunny in Pittsburgh! I TRIED. Pittsburgh sounds like it’d take care of me if it was a sort of being that could walk. NO 76
no Annie crucial to take care of yrself. Even baby yrself at times. As a self I absolutely love the wild and the cold my face in the noon. Noon in the winter IS SO REFLECTIVE. Like that Kelly Clarkson song where she’s all like what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger idk I really like that message the ocean is in Manhattan and I am alive.
RACHEL ERIN GEORGE I wanna be in my life as much as the dude in Lolita is like INVESTED, but not as violently, loved Lolita even when it got soggy and sad, coz it does get soggy and annoying. Those valleys where you can't see shit. Those water logged… I can't even metaphorize it, but lonely lonely lonely isn't bad. Oh my little napkin the days are in the days are in what you want them to be. It's like in The Holiday the longest Romcom ever w/ Jack Black who is kind of serious n Cameron Diaz n Kate Winslet *allstr cast + Jude Law (a single dad) he puts a napkin on his face and then talks with it still on his face and the kids that are his kids in the movie that I would like to think of as all of our kids are just so universally delighted and call him Mr. Napkin Head. In this moment it’s clear that J. Law does not give a fuck. Miss Diaz is pretty and she is RIGHT THERE and he is still doing it. Everyone can harness this sort of mindset.
ALYSSA KAZEW After Sandy there was a glorious rainbow somewhere because there always is and I’m assuming it asked for a handjob cause they always do. I like how w/ the word handjob when you really look at the linguistics here: HANDJOB DEBATE A HANDJOB LIKE NO OTHER HANDJOB MONDAYS AND THE NEW iHANDJOB BY APPLE it’s great like it’s THE job of the hand like there could be no other. This just makes me wanna start calling the shower indoorain the window cleardoor the oven hotcloset the fridge coldcloset the freezer foodhotel. Right now Maddie is in the kitchen near the mini food hotel trying to pick out a new desktop background for this season. Many of these choices include a well-placed pumpkin or trees galore except she can’t choose one, she says "these images are too beautiful to be my desktop background"
yea there is too much beauty in this world for it to just be in the background.
ROBERT SHROPSHIRE by morning i am the oldest conch shell EVER the sounds of a thousand worlds, marbled, i'm so dusty i want people to talk to me by afternoon as the conch shell i'm attempting to absorb everything inside of me even this poem you sent me the word mystery and so i'm like okay as a conch shell imma just listen to myself and all i hear in my headshell is VH1 VH1 VH1 coz on VH1 there was a reality show w/ this guy named Mystery who taught nerds how to get girls because deep down in his life Mystery was once a nerd but then he started wearing a lot of accessories at once like furry top hats from spencer's or six flags and aviator goggles AND IT WORKED (he also mocks girls to get them to talk to him, he calls this flirting), girls love that shit the hats I mean i do i mean i once thought that i was to marry a guy i met in a velvet bucket hat OH VIRTUAL OCEAN how committed i can be to TV, but not to my own well being *~PREACH~* i can't lie to you i'm attempting a continuous present even in a conch shell one can really understand space so by night fall I am hundreds of tiny islands, the kinds that celebrities buy each one containing a realization of myself 81
as the conch shell born again as an emotional 16 yr old boy talkin rlly passionately about a walt whitman poem and within that walt whitman poem: daylight that’s so fuckin hot n electrik and blue that on days like this i am not allowed to hate
MICHAEL SCRAFFORD Someone outside is shoveling snow and the noise of the shovel as it drags on the gravel the sound feels so good to me I wanna be wherever that sound is for the rest of my life. So I went through all the rooms in the apartment to find which one would let me hear it the best. It was in Michael Iovino's room. He isn't home right now so I stood there in the dark in front of the floral bed sheet that is his curtain I hung my head out the window like a tired dog. Everything was orange as I looked for the sound but I got cold and I couldn't track it. I WOULD BE SPONTANEOUS FOR THAT SOUND: WEAR BUCKET HATS COLLECT UGLY ROCKS BRUSH MY HAIR FOR THAT SOUND. I would compose an anthology of poems based on: memorizing Good Charlottes' first album and then whispering the lyrics to one single blade of grass for a 3 year period just so that sound 83
could be on my ipod could know my name could know that I know about it. IS THIS ALCHEMY? snow falls fifty times in the sky and the sound changes. Yes it’s like a dream violet sweet and better than an island so much better than an island. Now that I've heard this sound, because I'm not in love w/ the shoveller or the snow, or the concrete but the cyclone of everything that makes up the sound, I can actually go to bed understanding the beginning of time. It's really nice when things outside of yr control can fulfill you. But also if you want to, you can just change "the sound" to the name of who ever yr in love with and tell them you wrote this love poem for them. I'd be cool.
ANNE WALDMAN I WOKE UP THIS MORNING WITH SO MUCH THIRST FOR LIFE. I DON’T HAVE TO WORK FOR ANYONE OR ANYTHING. I AM A CREPUSCULAR WOLF PUP INVIGORATED BY A THOUSAND SCENTS. I AM A DANDELION ABOUT TO EXPLODE. I AM AS BRIGHT AS THE BLACK BACKGROUND THAT THE IPOD COMES WITH OF THE WORLD JUST GLOWING IN GALACTIC BLISS. I MARSHALL MY FORCES. I HARVEST ALL MY CROPS. LIKE A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER, I PLANT THE FIRST FLAG. THERE IS NOTHING I WANT TO OWN OR POSESSES EVER. EXCEPT MAYBE MY OWN MEDITATION SINGING BOWL AND A BOYFRIEND AND LIMITLESS COCONUT WATER AND NO ROACHES AND DISCIPLINE AND TO NOT BE ATOMICALLY RETICENT WHEN IT COMES TO THE SHIT THAT I REALLY CARE ABOUT AND DREAM BODY AND AWARD-WINNING POEMS AND TO ONLY SPEAK TRUTHFULLY AND VEGAN FUNFETTI COOKIES AND TO CREATE AN ACCESSIBLE BENFICIAL REALITY OF GIVING AND TO NOT BE SUCH A BABY.
AUDREY MOORE in my dreams the mafia is actually here and no matter how hard i actually try they won't let me actually join gucci gucci whatevr it's good to try everything once even dreams HOLLA plus i think there are a lot of guns involved w/ the mafia and who needs guns when dude look @ YR GUNS srsly you know how to actually use electrolytes all of this a synergy of the mafia audrey's biceps electrolytes can affect the quality of the day speaking of which you will always be in the right place at the right time a world containing more than the mafia: volcanoes erupting electrolytes all over the place shit basic bitches don't even bother
MICHELLE BETTERS if this can't be paradise lift yr life cosmic drowned things going for a thousand sounds at once on the mountains w/ black horses see these black horses on my skin i dunno i'm dying holy don't stay in yr room too late too long it's like staying on an island w/o a reason BUT I'M CRYING ON THE INSIDES discovering black horses on the insides little one little horse from what assembly what borough what rock is this? quivering lifted things a meteorite in front of me A METEROITE IN MY OWN HOME finally close to jesus tattoo on me that part in ashbery's how much longer will I be able to inhabit the great divine sepulcher: as the plant grows older it realizes it will never be a tree will probably always be haunted by a bee melted meteorites! cool to the touch yr insides liquid opal UNDOCUMENTED UNPARALLELED BEAUTY you/i don't need to fix you/i don't need to measure up don't need to fix to see it burn (fur stand so high) hackles down don't need to fix craving 87
to be awake is to be alive paradise paradise paradise paradise paradise you you you you you you you you me you us
CHRISTIAN HAWKEY There is always a baby and this time it's named Kartoffelbrei. Considering all of his letters and his meaning, that’s interesting. Kart finds ecstasy within Kart. Staring at toes all day. Cool. Baby of the moon in city of the moon. Kart is such a prince I mean he looks and he knows there is always a prince and this time it's him. Prince the artist, not Kart the baby has a twitter and I think it isn't real but he says things about swans and naturally I like this and so I think that is real. In ten years Kart will have a twitter he will know that birds also fall he’ll go “the darkne$$ bears its fruit and proves itself to be good no < the light~~~” #TRUTH I should tell Kart about the bells right now: These are my bells 89
all about me on my body too don’t drag them I just let them go. While in a lot of cities there are raids and red light.
SAM KAHRAR That cashier over there needs me I think I'm in love. UGH the malady of being TRULY HONEST I mean I’m the first to admit I've liked a ginger before. There are still so many things I don't know about them. Same thing w/ lily pads like are they connected to soil? How do they not get TOO much water? Do beetles sit on them? What a great design. I wanna be a lily pad. Floating. Holding other beings. I’m the first to admit I’m into mimicry. If you mimicry something hard enough you'll just turn into it. I WILL GO GLOBAL FOR LOVE.
BOBBY MOELLER I AM A RABID NU BORN NEW AGE ANTEATER AT DUSK SO CURIOUS AND UNIVERSAL for example: BOBBY did you invent The Big Party? Or did The Big Party exist before you? I ALWAYS WANT TO GO TO THERE. But there is also here. Because The Big Party is a state of mind, which makes it totally accessible. It is also a state: VA sevenohthree. But why do I even care about The Big Party? The Big Expectation? The Big Coming to Terms W/ Yr Own Duality and Perhaps Mortality? The Big Nap. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night w/ this one line just repeating in my head I was like ANNIE YOU ARE FINALLY DREAMING PURE POETRY. Look at you w/ one line lil hemmingway! You don’t even need to actually write ever again. Yr brain is just gonna be like RELAX I GOT THIS So I texted it to myself in my sleep and this was the line: “this little sound is like a hug” I woke up and I was like fuck I mean that's adorable that's the cutest thing I've ever written, but I mean IS IT A POEM? IS IT UNIVERSAL? 92
It's not even glowing. HOLD ON. What would Bobby say? Probably something like YO YOU WROTE THE BIG POEM and I’d be like word well I am trying hard to work things out and let go of all my rituals regarding The Big Hourglass in My Big Fuckn Heart in The Big Mind that's in The Big Snow, BUT yes there will always be The Big Sun and by extension The Big Sunday Vegan Brunch. You are a person.
JOHN LASHLEY I liked how tribal his tumblr was but the feathers were too bright. There’s a dawn in me now the day also bright a mound of fallen feathers a coast a doorknob a rose superimposed after the fact I said to him “GIMME YR feathers and yr etchings and that sad thing you do where I’m all like I CAN FIX YOU” no more feathers heaped in a mound an existing mound an existing rapture. I WILL RUN W/ THE WHITE HORSES I will I will I will on this trail I want to echo I’m sure I’m not dead. What trail is this? travelling to the same place the same feathers w/ the same sun in the same outfit. I know where it lives just let it go let the beat drop now the thousandth fear a feather in flames this has also become bright. Love it was a tree it was just a tree w/ feathers hanging all over it I let them be on me in the wind 94
pure rapture cold I’m in it now rapture in the season loving something w/o having to be it. When the feathers just glow just go I’m only saying set the feathers in the flame body and brain what do I have it lives too fast.
SARAH WRIGLEY Who put the ghost of Ke$ha in my vernacular? It’s just like I’m hungry and I’m a scribe and WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT?? A TRULY TRANSCENDENT JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER. You know I gotta say I really was not expecting to see the ghost of Ke$ha here! Ke$ha, I too am interested in creating an empire! Ke$ha gets all irrevocably shy and acts like she can’t open a jar of peanut butter. So I'm like Ke$ha I know yr not shy but then the poem breaks open HOLY STARDUST Maybe this isn't the ghost of Ke$ha but just like a problematic projection of the other embodied in the appropriation of a thousand other appealing things contradicting and yet appearing to own feminism in the same moment… AM I OUTSIDE OF MYSELF? AM I NOTHING MORE THAN AN ENIGMATIC COLLISION OF SNACK AND HURRICANE?
ALY VANDER HAYDEN I AM A CROP CIRCLE OF LIFE. I AM A BABY LAMB JUST STANDING THERE. I AM WOVEN CORNSILK AND DYING ***fucking love corn silk I say I'm in a mood I WANNA BE MAGICAL like in the most necessary mid western farm at dusk peeling corn silk off the fat cobs but really I’m drunk and making friendship bracelets for the infinite great hearts of this WORLD in my tub. Maybe she’s born with it MAYBE IT’S CORN SILK. I fucking love dusk*** taking meds and drinking tea life is good but then someone says yea okay: missiles. Here, the legend of being a human being w/ dreams and an empty stomach I OPEN THE LEGEND THE LEGEND OF THE LIFE COACH : - please just tell me about the mud - and do pretty girls automatically recognize other pretty girls? A REALLY pretty girl is a silver spoon. I could be a pretty girl in a womb of corn silk but I can’t grow here I can’t grow inside of my own corn silk.
JOE SUTTON A cheeseburger in limbo that’s what yr like. We are found in this dimension. Thx for letting me express myself. Some days it’s hard to believe in anything but I believe in you yr medieval beard and yr truly heartfelt appreciation for crown fried chicken. What I lust for is yr celestial calm. Joe King of the Space Clouds wears his hologram crown in the fuckin rain speaks of YOLO as accessible to all AND HE VOLUNTEERS.
DAN WARDEN I FINALLY GET MY STUPID HEART. My entire mindset/heartset/motive/dogma is based on attempting the cosmos!!! Which is so similar to always desiring the tropical fruit and nut mix medley from Costco— I could eat that shit w/ my eyes CLOSED. Hey Dan, I got A Question for you, DID YOU KNOW THAT YR LIKE AN ALL EXPENSES PAID TROPICAL VACATION LIKE 95% OF THE TIME? People like this about you! It makes them wanna engage and have a good time w/ you w/ themselves w/ the cosmos. THERE IS DAN IN THE WORD DANCE so I would like you to create a dance called The Soggy Dance for whenever yr feeling sad and then teach it to me so I know how to get better.
MADDIE STRATTON This is a poem for when yr laying down go ahead lay down people can wait I feel likeeeeee I’m always comforting myself and my people by saying Yes That’s “Life” and it’s hard being a human--but shit I don’t think a squirrel is ever all like “oh its hard being a squirrel” … MADDIE DON’T EVER GET A PERSONALITY MAKEOVER
a photo of a neon garden on the internet LIKE THIS a still life composed entirely of smiley faces LIKE THIS TOO do you too wonder about the cyber seasons??? I love the seasons some days I feel held by them for no reason other days I feel held back so far back. No-way! Way!!! The Apocalypse will be the makeover to end all makeovers!!! Am I living or am I dying it smells like s p r i n g in here. 100
TREASURE THE INTERNET AND THE SQUIRREL. THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN THINGS ARE PERFECT.
EVIE Once upon a time there was an EVIE. Evie did the mango-tango beautifully. A dance which entailed a little bit of hip and a lot of sass. She knows that the mornings are perfect for this. Evie! IF YOU CAN MAKE THE SPACE YOU CAN BE THE SPACE!!! So I’m hangin w/ Evie and I’m all like woah she is truly delighted when she dances. So I stand in front of my mirror. I do the mango-tango like no ones watching because no one’s watching. Oh Evie! I miss you n Aria n Colin even though last time he tried to run away from me via the roof. WHAT ELSE IS NU W/ THE BOYS AM I RIGHT? This morning I am packing to go back to Virginia for Thanksgiving and since my dad used to work at REI I have roughly like one hundred duffel bags in my apartment. So I wanna put you n Aria n Colin in one of the big ones that looks like a whale and we could all go to the beach or Space for like a week. I think any longer and you guys would become bored of me so on the moon I’d 102
stay and let you all go orbiting about me and the moon and the world.
NATALIA PANZER NATALIA LA LA LA PANZER EVERYBODY THIS IS IT NO MORE DARK STPID WOMBS BUT THE KIND W/ LACE N OPEN LIGHT AND THE MOST PLEASANT DELICATE UNDERSTANDABLE INTELLIGENT ACCENT. The animals are all about you when you walk they just spring up from the ground nice flowers too a few birds are all like la la la: a more basic part of yrself. I am in this room where my dad keeps all the snakes. This morning I stared at one till I woke up a creamy banana lil guy. There’s also a mini food hotel aka freezer in here w/ dead frzn mice in it, I’ve never opened it, I’m scared of the mice ghosts not Ghost Mice that band is not scary I like them and their music the same way I like a lot of my cousins, there is also a time machine in here that my dad made FUN FACT 4: NATTY EBAY HUSTLR ICE PANZER * YOU CAN’T SELL TIME MACHINES ON EBAY oh and 104
I may die of earthly luv Natalia so share the ghosts share the time w/o the machine.
ELINA ANSARY Oh lord it is time water surrounds me. I cannot wait. I am the wolf to hunt You are the dove to watch. Who am I kidding? I’m about to fuck up my archives. God this is so realistic but on the other handthe archives of yr cat glorious secretive highly literary! It really is all about where you put yr focus. FOCUS I am here in the flood I am here for the flood my mind is for the flood. FOCUS take it back in the woods take it back, the creatures archives. Lord of yes get into me get me into there. A rainbow fasting for what’s inside of me and only me I like who’s there. A thousand hills the sun breaks them open and within those hills wolves spill out they climb up lava wolves wolves of my mind. 106
A flood for the wolves and the hills and the archives. I am a girl. I am and I have this being. I MEAN WHAT ARE FRIENDS FOR?
TINA UZNANSKI My dad and brother are watching The Fringe and Dad keeps yelling man babies man babies and I’m all like DON’T I KNOW IT. A sniffle for anyone DON’T GO someone needs to break me. B YR 1ST PRIORITY GRL. WE HAVE VISIONS OF LIFE I WILL OFFER AT ANY SHRINE IMPULSES TOWARD PERFECTION. EVEN A FATAL SCENT virginity a glowing mist levitating lit up from the back floating above two gnomes in the front yard. Everything is so fucking loud in the cloud. Lovely humming where where near the fence, the fence hums and lace swirling this is not a home The priority of being a virgin like wont stop humming and how virginity and the weather can really dictate one’s day they need to get off my shit just get off this window sill. I’m sneaking out. I’m a heartbeat on every road 108
the time it takes to be a virgin what if I had just listened to those mix tapes ?? virginity a pink cloud that never rains///////////
MIKE GALLANT I am like a watusi bull their hornspan can really do some damage I think I know that. IF YOU GIVE A BULL A DONUT. Whenever my dad and I are having a conversation and he says something that I disagree w/ I just yell that I don’t wanna talk about politics w/ him like some donut that I stole w/o even asking like a colossal donut from SHOPPERS in VA I think I just wanna be noticed for something like a watusi: the bull and the dance or someone plz look @ me like an infection infection of mind of monster mind and worry mind and raging bull mind. A bull actually here like I asked for it. To be an infection on a tree the bark splitting off and little red bugs spilling out bark turning to dust upon touch absorbing the treeself and bitter roots. My father plays the blues in the other room. I want to know him like that but my horns won’t fit through the door.
SEAN PETELL THEY WILL CHANT MY POEMS ACROSS THE NATION AT EVERY FOOTBALL GAME. I hear every sound like I’ve already heard it. I DON’T WANT TO GIVE THIS UP. I WILL HAVE A FRONT PORCH. I CAN HEAL this dog no “beast” just a big big dog there’s a big big difference in this big big heart. Only so much time can be allotted to breaking down the big big bridge. Yea there’s always been an arch. No being is every created or destroyed. No dog is ever created or destroyed so how could I kill such a thing? What’s ahead? I can see the city. People be w/ me. All the things I wanna do, they do too. Oh big black sun I am born people of dog know the wolf then know me. Terrific stuff. A giant fire I invite everyone to get inside please just do this for me the globe it burns for only this. 111
SACHA VEGA all I wanna do is have cool hair and write cool poems abt. cool geological moments between a minivan and this heart is my heart welcome to my really cool cult party imma just have fun w/ it like a vortex is something I can really relate to A VORTEX OF ALL THE SKYLINES OF ALL TIME PROJECTED ON TO THE SKY yooo so to project one feeling or one moment thinking that that is IT like it could hold you could dictate you soK I T S C H yah this heart is my heart goosebumps put on hold too much self then I’m outside of someone else’s home their eyes are something like nothing I’ve ever seen before I AM STUNNED BY THE DARK
KURT WOERPEL THIS COULD BE THE LAST LUNAR ECLIPSE E V E R SO Imma act like this could be my first life E V E R I am buckled by the voices I am harnessed by the green I am enraptured by the banana-slug an oath in my mind to let go of the sheets judgments on Tom Cruise controversies regarding sea punk BE THE OCEAN IN THIS POEM I’m scared I’ll die before I get to the waves or worse simply forget about them the banana-slug the birch tree the bitch girl an ecosystem of uh I’m gonna try getting married to the beast a schizophrenic w/ a chrysanthemum DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE WAVES GO AND LOOK AT THE MOON!!!
MALCOLM BEHOLD the arduous aardvark seriously it’s hard for some creatures to just be even in the morning grass ankles a creature wait what am I harvesting again? I’m not one to wish but I made this glorious shrine based off of the nu Brad Pitt perfume commercial its super cosmic ~ n I WISH SOME1 WUD JUST PRAY W/ ME LIKE FOR ALL ANKLES AARDVARKS APPLES little things!!! what’s gonna become of me? especially in the morning anxious for the dawn the moon the crucifix the whole fuckin crevice I get what yr scared of like an excited sea urchin would be pretty fuckin scary like illness anxious about the water and illness OHMYGOD HAS THIS BEEN FORCED??? we r like towers a lot and the arduous climbs but at least we have perspective
ANTHONY KAPLAN no matter what I do at the fountain again thirsty I THINK I AM AN ETERNAL MIRAGE ooooo yea w/ a mask too!! bowing down my horns lookin like tree branches in me beasts chasing beasts bow down runaway run away some where exotic where the air smells of espresso beans and young animals lay down thing we are what we think we are droplets of light on my forearm AN EMULSION A SIGN AN ACCESSIBLE OMEN??? pawing at it this is how to become eternal: SHARE THE GHOSTS.
MELANIE HOFF So the other day you walked by the fish tank and you waved and I LITERALLY WHISPERED BEAUTIFUL. I see you w/ yr majestic coats. LADY PHANTOM. Have you ever seen the Polar Bear King? It’s a movie about this Norwegian fairy tale: basically there’s a prince who becomes a polar bear and then marries a chick n they have kids and I mean clearly THAT’S an issue, but their outfit$$$ - some of my top favs and I think you’d feel the same. I was thinking about all the dope things you make and honestly a lot of assassins ~*AN ASSASIN IN A FIELD OF ORCHIDS~* would dig yr stuff. Is this problematic? Yea okay maybe not assassins maybe like AGENTS or SPIES. Seriously it makes sense to use yr talents for cool shit. And in regards to yr 3rd word INDUSTRY last year I was like MA WHY DID U LET ME STUDY POETRY IN? COLLEGE WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO SUPPORTIVE AND LOVING OF SUCH A DESIRE??? N then she goes Oh Annie I’m SURE there are plenty of jobs in the poetry industry! Lolz <3 ANNIE PARADIS CEO OF POETRY <3.
OH BLASPHEMOUS SPARKLING DESIRE! I’m like a hippopotamus half-submerged half-drawn to the sky.
OH BLASPHEMOUS HABITS LET ME BE mangroves to my sea! Let what’s hidden, let it purge, let that burden, let it surge. Everything erupts. Today the birds were wild on this warm day in December and I would have been pleased like a child if I didn’t remember how in The Day After Tomorrow and the movie Jumanji right before ecological sorrow the animals go fuckin crazy So imma love while I can in this balmy time span. GO HOLD SOMETHING NOW! This poem got pretty real wow.
MEGAN SAIENNI so I’ve been practicing my John Travolta Grease Lightning drag and Megan, IT FEELS SO GOOD TO DANCE plus j trav is a dreamboat but who am I kidding u r a dream boat you always make me feel welcome in a human way yr probably really good at slow dancing too I think it’s yr afternoon-like demeanor its like u got the vibes of a 2 o’clock sun comin thru the blinds on to an adorable but mysterious black cat there’s a photo of you on our diva wall in the living room holding Amelia’s snake ~freaky like b spears ~ that makes it sound a lot more raunchy than it was MEGAN SAIENNI’S RAUNCHY LIFSTYLE that was the night you drank dry ice and Annaliese made vegan chocolate chip pancakes CUTE GIRLS DOIN CUTE THINGS HAVE A GOOD DAY PUPPY <3
JACK NACHMANOVITCH 3 MIN CHAKRA TEST GO when we die architects will study our poems just to attempt to understand how we dealt w/ space like vapor a tusk an emblem of planet milk IT BROkowski a will to change into a god im going into the burrow again UGH is this stellar or just fuck -ed up sex dreams dreams of orange of conan o’brien trying to ask 4 my virginity in a junkyard he is already naked telling jokes and im just standing there fully clothed like this is my life jack near a bubbling brook cuddling w/ a baby deer and a sega dreamin of ronald reagan in a quarry for once in his life reagan is content long island ice teas in the quarry the moon in the quarry a pastel drawing of reagan’s favorite bay area poets in the quarry when waking the easiest thing to do is to just tailbone it what makes sense for us is to open our arms really wide and think about all the endocrine portals and then inhale plant vapor and people vapor and animal vapor 119
idk at that point yu can pretty much b everything also wiggle yr coccyx this will make u c yrself like a lil fish more dreams laying on top a field of grass and reaching my hands to get some dirt but only pulling up handfuls of molars white eggshell clean molars clean girls clean 4 once I heard jack has teeth, like real teeth for ronald reagan wears a tusk n is like wanna b pure
AUDREY DAVIS WHAT’S GOOD FOR ME of water today
a face at the most falafel at the least
NO DESERT HERE
no smolder no
I drank 3 liters
this is me
in my house out of my mind
the face is the first flower the face is the first flower the face is the first flower the face is the first flower the face is the first flower
the loop system of the sea is the me the ocean is wut I want 2 b
how did I get here the idea of the desert: no ones home 121
JAMIE KENNEDY It’s dangerous to keep certain things as pets like elephants and mindsets. WHO HERE WANTS TO TAKE CARE OF ME? I haven’t left the house in 42 hours. I AM A SUNCAT.
Take Care Of Me. The Gin Blossoms are playing in NYC in January. Someone should pay 4 me. I’m a good date. Today I’ve spent so much time on the internet that I feel like laundry. I AM A VIRTUAL WAYFARER. I AM ANNIE CYBER INDUSTRY OF LIFE. Our doorbell when it needs batteries sounds like a UFO and no one here likes that. So looking out the window THIS IS LIFE AT ALL HOURS HUH
The lighting on me is nice. 122
NATE INGHAM FORMULA: b cool + black black holes + kissing cast-iron swans + orca + Vishnu = in this movie I play a witch Vishnu b mine b as blu as this Vishnu mornings Vishnu in the snow as blu as my head in a bowl of cereal I’m so un done as far as this goes all ovr my diary ANNIE + VISHNU 4EVR A FORMULA THAT COULD ACTUALLY WORK like new mexico like howling like orca Vishnu says “sry about therapy flowr annie”
oh me in the dusk
VIRGINIA PARADIS lovely stones moon n crutch waiting @ the pier 4 payback rain like under rain IM GONNA GO STAND IN IT LIKE I’M JOHN CUSACK IN EVRY SINGLE ONE OF HIS MOVIES THIS WILL B THE RAIN THAT COMPLETELY CHANGES ME speaking of me thank you for taking care of me sometimes yr only a voice always a rain girl you are gone a part of me that moves I was gonna be a jellyfish for Halloween last year just like put a lot of shit in my hair but then that wouldn’t have been much different than real life one time in high school I found cake in my hair and it was a Sunday and the Sunday before I had gone to see Danny perform Michael Buble in Choral Cabaret b4 he had come out and I thought he could be my boyfriend and there were cupcakes there and I ate one so it had been a week VIRGINIA I HAD CAKE IN MY HAIR FOR A WEEK remember when we both had one dreadlock at the same time 124
* I just got one coz I was afraid of actually committing to something * I like how we have nose rings and I like where our tattoos are let’s get one this winter I’ve been thinking about a swan but then that could just be a way of coping w/ mom’s idea of swan year remember barefoot dance off on my 21st birthday sometimes it doesn’t seem like you r real but passing me like a gull a seagull w/ rlly long beautiful straight straight hair that sometimes when I was younger I’d think about cutting off ALSO I LIKE THE WAY YOU DANCE IT’S LIKE YR TOUCHING SOMETHING THAT I CAN’T
MICHELLE BARTON So this poem is about a vulva YOU CHOSE THIS word Michelle. I wanted this poem to be up on the wall of Clementine Bakery, but a poem w/ the word VULVA? I mean if a lil vegan bunny baby comes into the bakery and reads this YOU CAN’T ACT LIKE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A VULVA IS. You will have to define it. And if you don’t, Evan will because kids wanna know everything, they just do. And I can’t stop it. Today felt lumpy. I wanted to know why BUT IT IS NOT AS IF THERE WAS SOMEONE THERE FOR ME THAT WAS GONNA DEFINE IT. I couldn’t be like Franny, (James Franco) AM I JUST NOT ENGAGING W/ MYSELF? OR THE WORLD? HAVE I BECOME THE RASCAL? DO I EVEN DESERVE A SPIRIT ANIMAL????????? I don’t know. ~*BUT I DO KNOW THAT YU PEOPLE R DOPE N I MISS U*~ And Lauren has good cheekbones. And Zak is one of the top 5 most 126
posied people I know. HAPPY MONDAY!!
MICHAEL IOVINO HARK A WHIKSERED MICHAEL APPROACHES! Michael, I hope you will still get that farm upstate and there will b poetry retreats and dogs n cats and Natty making French onion soup and I’ll be on a big big rug hiding poems in the floorboard probably muttering something about patriarchy. One time u said 2 me you are on fire and we are all watching and then u said yr gonna put that in yr poem I saved it grandpa poetry. The longer yr hair gets the more the world makes sense. One summer I think you texted me everyday after I meditated: ~Michael Iovino Spiritual Text Message Guide~ MICHAEL IOVINO’S NEOTROPICAL POETRY EXCURSIONS* For a fee of 1 KOMBUCHA or 1 CHOCOCAN COOKIE from Clementine Bakery The Michael Iovino will take you on the most life affirming mind safari::: LIKE THE SOUND OF THE RAIN? Write a poem about it! SPOT A GOOSEFOOT? Write a poem about it! 128
CATCH MALARIA? Write a poem about it! WITNESS YRSELF IN RELATION TO THE COSMOS??? W r i t e a p o e m a b o u t i t.
*((Michael Iovino’s Neotropical Poetry Excursions will b sponsored by the sheer force of Annie Paradis’ luv 4 him)).
ROSEMARIE PARADIS VIRGINIA THE SEA LUKE THE MOUNTAIN ANNIE THE SUN ANNIE I AM in the kitchen I hear things the bugs keeping myself busy and safe Rosemarie says good Alaska and a fire morning and a cut the layers of the sky I wanna be out there there w/ the tips of the pines. I don’t want to leave anything behind or be alone ever. What’s good what’s worth saving? Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see Ginny. Can I save this? Is it even true cause like Luke told me I was adopted till I was like 12 and the whole time nomad nomad nomad sleep 130
Yesterday I was registering to graduate and it said to put my name down as I want it on my *~~“diploma”~~* so I had a panic attack cause I could not decide between ANDREA or ANNIE but then I realized I knew myself and if I put down ANNIE the rest of my entire life would be spent curled up on the floor w/ the diploma and a huge bottle of seltzer looking at that paper and just being like LEGALLY THIS IS NOT LEGAL BUT I MEAN WHO AM I ANYWAYS??? LUV YR FAV KID, ANNIE
MICHAEL SMALL Creatures like creatures. Inside them it gets dark so okay then observe yr own enlightened visions. PLEASE jesus my pants have so much lint on them I’ve been tryin to look more put 2gether n “”MATURE”” but LOOK I can’t even stop the world from sticking to me. Gettt in the car the best languid drive of YR LIFE just tree tree deer no need for presentiment a black hole really like selffulfilling prophecies of what the snow??? Oh oh puppy the day even if it is ugly is a day bcuz of light. That foreboding hourglass that howls in my heart is such a beautiful image that it possesses zero truth. Beauty n truth, truth n beauty TRUTH AND BOOTY. Use poetry to get girls and like no one cares if it’s perfect the fact that you A R E creating is perfection. I fear our bodies are too small for these big dreams.
AILSA FORLENZA Elf is the only holiday movie I relate too. I had a dream once about will Ferrell and I in a booth in a diner in Boulder. The mountains behind him were red, they were brown. He was just trying to laud my virginity over me. I’m too cold to do anything normal. I feel like I haven’t done this in ages. Here I mean. My mind is not made up. I think I’m hunting. Fuck it just feels really good to hunt. The immediate bloom of a rose. Fuck wisp. The ocean just covered in hair. My hair fuck. My arms are too big for this. Sorry. Soap in the sea. Sorry. Can you hold this just for like a second? For I am sorry the days occur completely out of order. Call her. Call her. Call her. Like a fucking bird. Even I know better. Only me safe. Only a tornado comes through for only me. In the fridge there are tops n bottoms for pistachio macaroon cookies. Cookies w/ no filling, w/o the middle. What’s the middle? What’s the most that could happen? The end of the world feathered and sweet. I am a ghost before anyone else said I could be.
KELLY TRACY I AM ACTIVATING THE NU AGE like a kingdom under me like an ecstatic punk yoga workout vid. I know if you pretend yr ecstatic about something then the energy is just there. Today I am hungover and vulnerable. When I am hungover I do not feel spiritual. Off the radar this is the planet annie everything is alluring even like ugly this isn’t a joke I know what I need colossal palm trees Kelly their roots like so deep like a kingdom under me. I feel like everyone.
MANUELA CAIN trying to under stand what made me a cosmic taco @2 in the morning throw it into my tomb don’t say it aloud don’t this life is a dream forced enigma stupid crowns crowing cats all I am is Sunday all my fingers rotting sorry I want to b better the day was cold it was long what am I supposed to say that I prefer the enigma of the taco over the taco that I am too what an overcast sky instead of I just I am
AARICA NORTH There’s a desert out my window can’t go anywhere anymore. I asked for it. Cactus, just don’t the dead also age and you hate rain? The desert in my pajamas and I’m like how is every body this drunk but me bitter roots truly bitter leaves. I’m letting it pass through. Post desert: Oh no the shelf it breaks refuge in the self. So tell me is he a genius or is he just talking really loud. The problem when I speak is that I want help. Sunlight help easy crashing down on people all around bitter my tongue in the desert. My paws rubbing up against each other. Cars in my town see this. In my own town I am still saying this shit.
MEGHAN TRACY dear beach mama, I wanna sit n eat a pfeffernüsse w./ u like soon like so this weekend I’ll get this joy off of no rules yah I got out of my borough baby I’m making real life plans baby like maybe I’ll come n live near u in cali cali in the blue ridge 2day I felt small it was perfect I think the sun is good for u LOVE, annie p.s. the fact that you have complimented me on my nose once a year since I was like 12 has really built a strong and fascinating confidence in my nose as something I like about myself omg thank u for helping me like myself~~
JACK TANGNEY I want to live exposed to the elements the same way other people live in castles. Guilty since the beginning of time very first snow of time. Is this youth on an enlightening scale? on tv? in a tumbleweed? I am not at my limit THE UNIVERSE PROVIDES ME WITH EVERYHTING I NEED. Oh just let me live outside this golden jail: nothing is kept but stillborn dreams. I watch from a distance like a virgin. December knows its worth. I kill the weeds for my sake only.
EVAN Hi okay so it’s my heart not me as if the cave and the electric light were mutually exclusive. I’m watching me curled up like a bat. I recalibrate the need for fruit like real fruit. So chilled here no one has heat here. Something is howling outside of me for red sun for red steak. My wings are weird. I’ve been in the habit of confessing to everything lately, for mistakes that aren’t even mine. Little drums all down my tunnel I can see that I’m wearing out my stay like cold steak on someone’s counter like a ship w/ real shitty sails like a wet log when you touch it and the log just ends. And I stood up a grown bird. That right there is the key. Tall crane no amount of talking with this. Tall tall crane and pine I guess tall enough for me to hang little hearts from. I am seeing everything. I’m in love w/ a bull, I mean everything is getting pink and I do covet and I do count 139
and I do hold diamonds and I do feel old.
LAURA ELRICK WOAH LOOKS LIKE WE MIGHT AS WELL GET EXCITED ABOUT OUR COSMIC BACKGROUNDS cause I think I’m alive alive I think I think I am I yeah frozen apples like great seeds I am not doomed not better than apples better than a currency based on mirrors too easy I am sure I made it rain sry I can’t right now dumb insurrection like girl I am not girl fuck that’s okay it is new era yes I think I am alive I think this is it a horse like doomed not mine Laura the crystals get stuck to you that’s lovely it’s better than 141
a lot of other things sticking to you you are new era too for the day is no longer a hot fence but what is in the fence in there, in girl: bats without a clue.
COLIN KELLY I woke up hungry. In my dream I was having dinner parties with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros I mean they werenâ€™t even dinner parties like we were closer than that just like cooking dinner 2gether and their beards were great. The interiors of man are woodsy and make sounds like UFOS. It is Saturday in Virginia and the world is folding in on itself. In the winter in the cities the sky gets divided up and milky between the buildings in these little cities I will learn about myself: the codes the orchards the galactic alignment of bone to bone. When you get there you are radiating magic. Superb replacements for the bitch ghost. Yah like I said the only replacement for a ghost is a ghost.
ANNIE PARADIS I heard annie paradis trying to load a dishwasher is like two dreams worth of snow. I heard annie paradis is devastating. I heard annie paradis falls in love, but she does it so much that no one believes her. I heard annie paradis says no angel no. I heard annie paradis is weird. I heard annie paradis wakes up by moving. I heard annie paradis on an airplane, not her, but the airplane, like the way it flies, ends up being pretty beautiful and makes things re-bloom. I heard annie paradis has never heard of a poem. I heard annie paradis in a toboggan is the opposite of emotion. I heard annie paradis is into crystallizing. I heard annie paradis tries really hard to be a plantation of sugarcane and at the same time eating the sweetness. I heard annie paradis has been talking about running away for a long time. I heard annie paradis appreciating her socks is reminiscent of the way the first dinosaur felt when they saw their first sunrise. I heard annie paradis would do fucked up shit for a moon pie. I heard annie paradis has feelings that would rather just glow. I heard annie paradis scares cats. I heard annie paradis is a creature of taste. I heard annie paradis is finding out what isn’t working. I heard annie paradis dances really good to Heart of glass. I heard annie paradis thinks you matter. I heard annie paradis, when she talks to other people about herself, she likes to imagine she is doing it in the passenger seat of a pick-up truck on her way to Alaska with the sky half blue half orange. I heard annie paradis’ hair has more friends than her. I heard annie paradis wants inner peace like a lot.
indecision quesadilla abortion
barnyard horse blanket ribbed
twitter motorcycle amorous
cheez-its aliens underrated
wrist purple kiss
fake corn candy
black cherry weirdo cockroach
high school musical
island stretch marks regret
Torin Van Houten
boats apple quarter
critical visual steve roggenbuck
Abigale Neate Wilson
heterotopia gluten downward dog
monster reality aioli
seahorse airplane film
history fingernails scissors
snow caffeine pigments
cochlea fibonacci nautilus
swan diva sensitive
dissident holiness cheese
Shannon Lee and Sunny Lee
sminkling tooth-rind pony
mommy sorry cabin
self help armageddon
croissant fracking pamplemousse
americun penus mustache
steering wheel pillar seal
virtual palm eroding
pollo con queso
baby effervescent fecund
volcano dazzle foxy
spear fearless ceremonies
sea bones calculate 149
violence traffic one-two-step
planetbound were teens
Juan Carlos Duque
akimbo guitar tongue
unearth silence epiphany
foam tourniquet gargantuan
severe panic attacks
John F. Simon JR.
open stillness ecstasy
chocolate ostracism oomph
september antics glassbowl
scissors box horse
lonley horny cold
mechatronics exoteric mothercat
seismograph lexicon exegesis
peace umbrella stranger
refreshing change deliciousness
apple flavored rectum
toe syrup sneaky
candle clock ocean
cheeze lackadaisical hydrangea
weed tabbouleh, ankle-bracelets
swedish pittsburgh elephants
Rachel Erin George
lolita soggy napkin
pumpkin handjob rainbow
mystery mocks me
spontaneous anthology alchemy
reticent crepuscular as
synergy mafia electrolytes
paradise insides tattoo
baby kartoffelbrei prince
ginger malady mimicry
the big party 150
feathers too bright
irrevocably ghost transcendent
Aly Vander Hayden
corn silk legend silver spoon
cheeseburger lust clouds
tropical cosmos soggy
makeover no way! the internet
duffle bag mango tango space
la la la
archives lord flood
sniffle gnomes virginity
infection donut watusi
big big dog
kitsch vortex goosebumps
vacuum, banana, slug
arduous anxious excited
espresso emulsion eternal
assassin industry phantom
hippopotamus blasphemous, mangroves
slow freaky, dreamboat
vapor ronald reagan coccyx
desert falafel face
wayfarer elephants gin
cast-iron vishnu formula
barefoot jellyfish rain
bunny franny vulva
whiskered goosefoot neotropical
annie luke virginia
languid presentiment foreboding
elf laud wisp
ecstatic vulnerable alluring
cosmic enigma taco 151
pajamas bitter desert
nose pfeffernüsse no rules
guilty virgin tv
recalibrate mistake steak
currency apples insurrection
cities interiors replacements
angel devastating toboggan
not toward no future / like a glowing purge an afterword
The infomercial and videos mentioned in this essay can be found at:
not toward no future / like a glowing purge I. I want a poetry that can nourish myself and nourish those that read it, a poetry based on connection, not words talking to other words, but words talking to other people. I am exhausted with writing poems that begin in me, in my experiences and end there, poems that have no final location, no landing point other than the page. I want to write poems that create, in the words of Roger Farr on his talk on “Anarchist Poetics,” a poetics in “which we eradicate the barrier between representation and practice, art and life” (1). I want poems in which it is obvious and clear that I am living and making, that the poems did not just appear, that they were not just channeled, but that they were made through living. I am scared that maybe if I don’t make a shift I will begin writing poems about poems. Poems that eat themselves instead of nourishing others. I want poetry to be about relationships, about collaborating and working with others. I want poetry to be a vessel to acknowledge, accept, and honor our human qualities. We only exist because of one another, like Cesaire’s lion that is not a lion without the antelope, the zebras, the stars, we do not exist without the multiple causes and effects that have brought us into existence – this all stems from relationships. *** By the summer of 2012 I had realized two things: (1) that I would never become so rich and famous from writing poetry that celebrity blogs would know that I prefer almond milk over soy milk and (2) that if I wanted to maintain my own writing practice I must solidify the connection between my life and my poetry. Regarding the first, I have no idea how I sustained this belief for so long; I think it had a little to do with my mom and a lot to do with hoping I’d get “discovered” like the same way really hot models just get “discovered” in malls. Regarding the second, I knew that I would be graduating from Pratt Institute in a year, leaving a community that encouraged me to write and share that writing, and since I would be leaving that institution, I needed to find a way to make 159
poetry a part of my life as much as possible. I knew there were no specific job openings in the Poetry Industry. *** When I think of the beginning of poetry I think of it as a social experience. I think of the oral tradition of poetry. An auditory person-to-person communion. Before writing THE FREE POEMS I could only get that person-to-person moment, that feeling of community, that fix, once a month at the poetry readings that I hold in my living room, which is fairly limited to poets that go to Pratt. But most of my friends and acquaintances are not poets, or really they do not identify as poets. They are “normal.” I felt that if I wanted to extend my poetry outside of my community of poets, I needed to create a poetry that was accessible. A poetry not just accessible to poets, to those that choose to go to readings and know the history of poetry and its forms and its theory, but a poetry also for those who never think about poetry, who have such a narrow view of poetry because of how hidden it is. There are no museums, no art galleries in which poetry is celebrated the same way visual art is celebrated. There are libraries. Libraries are quiet and cold and do not foster the same social experience, the same conversations that museums and galleries allow and implement. How could I create a poetry that would function as a community, but would not be confined to a space, to a living room, a chapel, or a stage, to one specific moment in time, but a poetry that could be re-played and re-accessed? How could I go about creating this experience and involve others? *** That summer I had made an infomercial titled TIRED OF WRITING YR OWN POEMS??? using iMovie for an improv scholarship competition sponsored by The People’s Improv Theatre (The PIT) and NBC. The requirements were to submit three minutes of comedic work. I had no such thing other than two or three one-liners I had come up with in my head about dogs wearing Old Navy sweaters and a shitty 160
impersonation of my grandma from Minnesota. Then it dawned on me. I write poetry. That’s kind of funny. In TIRED OF WRITING YR OWN POEMS??? I promoted my poetry as poetry in HD (high-definition). Poetry that was “like a panther falling asleep right in arm’s length of a child…like that feeling where maybe we are all just figments of Eddy Vedder’s subconscious… like the love of your life has a room full of jars with creepy shit floating in them.” Poetry that “makes one say wait, wait I can have this like here and now?” In the video I guaranteed each person a poem for free, “about you, for you.” I recorded the infomercial in my room with me in front of my bookshelf, which contained many books because people trust other people that have a lot of books. I am also eating baby carrots in the video; I think that this shows that I am a normal human with normal hunger. Within 24 hours of e-mailing the infomercial to a few friends and posting it on my Facebook page I received five requests. I e-mailed back the requesters asking for three words from each of them. I wanted each poem to exist as collaboration, an exchange, a gift, instead of a purchase: a poem that was free in multiple ways. At the beginning of the project I planned on giving one week of my time to each poem, but as I received more requests and decided that this would be my thesis project, I had to decide how much time I could spend on the poems given how many people I wanted to reach and interact with through the poems. Finally, I determined I would write one poem a day. I would accept 100 requests. Of the 100 requests I received, I knew 70 personally (friends or family), 15 were acquaintances (of those 15 I would say about five of them I drunkenly hassled at a house party saying that if they wanted me to I could change their life) and the remaining 15 were people that had never met me, but had seen the infomercial and the first few poems on the blogs INTERNET POETRY and Alt Lit Gossip and had e-mailed me requesting a poem.
*~FREE POETRY RULES~* -
You give me three words
I write a poem in which those three words appear somewhere in the poem
The poem is titled after you
I record a video of me performing the poem in my room
I post the video on YouTube and e-mail you or Facebook message you the link
I also post the video on Facebook and The Free Poetry tumblr blog
At the beginning, when I posted the videos online, I had panic attacks about YouTube owning the rights to my poems, so I placed a copyright symbol in the description box – I knew that this wouldn’t truly safeguard it, but perhaps YouTube would see it and just assume they were copyrighted. According to the YouTube Terms of Service, as the creator of the videos, I still own the content, but that by posting it on YouTube I am granting YouTube: A worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. After discovering this, it seemed silly to be possessive of the poems in the first place; even if they were copyrighted, I had no control over them once they were posted. I wanted the poems to not be free for just the individual, but also free for anyone else that would want to take lines from them or re-purpose them. The sense of authorship and ownership over the poems dissolved. ***
(A flyer I made when I had about 10 slots left and was desperate to get them filled. I left these on subway cars, around Fort Greene Park, and at MoMA PS1. I’m 99 % sure I got zero requests this way.)
With THE FREE POEMS I wanted to write poems that had a pulse. Poems that were lifeaffirming, not overly optimistic, but that had awareness of existence, awareness that to be a human is not simply in the mind, but it is also physical, it is interacting with others and the world, it is relationships. I wanted to write poems that were not separated from the body that was reading it, but poems that were embodied, poems that had a presence. I wanted poems that were uninterested in appearing as void of speaker, void of narrator, void of the human. I wanted poetry that, in the words of poet and critic James Logenbach, would make one crave, not more poetry, but more life (Hart). And then came the question: how can one live a poetic life, a life in which the very act of living can become poetry and vice versa? The videos realize the poem’s existence; they give the poems a pulse, my pulse. I wrote these poems with performance as the final goal in mind. The texts of the poems were written as scores to be interpreted during the performance. There are spelling errors, excess exclamation marks, and ellipses that appear unnecessary in the text, but that were crucial in guiding me in the performance. *** 163
I wanted to be cured. I wanted therapy. I wanted to give myself therapy and feel embarrassed about it. I wanted people to listen to me, to look at me. I wanted that attention. I wanted the freedom to not feel stupid for wanting the attention. I wanted to develop compassion for myself. I wanted to share my life with one person every day. I wanted someone to watch their poem or read their poem and feel special. I wanted to write poems of empathy. Poems that, hopefully, through me showing so much of myself, would make the recipient feel less alone. I wanted to write poems that would get stuck in people’s heads. I wanted to make poems that were not limited to a page, but that could find their existence in a physical setting, in sound, in visuals, in relating. I didn’t want poems that were mine. I wanted others to have ownership over a poem. I wanted to rid myself of the idea of the perfect poem. I wanted to write poems that had a future. II. No future. I am of the generation in which the future is no longer one of promise, but one of threat: threat of environmental catastrophe, unpayable debt, unstable overstimulation, excess waste and constant warfare. Failure dominates promise. And although we have multiple ways to communicate with one another, the actual amount of time that we spend with one another, face-to-face, is drastically decreasing as we turn to digital interfaces to connect. The radical theorist Franco Berardi, in his book The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance writes that, “The word is drawn into this process of automation, so we find it frozen and abstract in the disempathetic life of a society that has become incapable of solidarity and autonomy” (17). In other words, automation of the word occurs on a monetary level as the word is subjected to the financial cycle: Signs fall under the domination of finance when the financial function (the accumulation of value through semiotic circulation) cancels the instinctual side of enunciation, so that what is enunciated may be compatible with digital financial formats. The production of meaning and of value takes the form of parthenogenesis: signs produce signs without any longer passing through the flesh (17). 164
Communicating though technological devices rather than person to person has become automatic; it is woven into our daily lives and we no longer are separate as individuals, but are constantly reminded that we are part of a network. Language bombards these networks so rapidly that one cannot fully absorb it, and the networks themselves become isolating and false. The words accumulate worth, but not a worth of empathy or meaning. Rather, the worth that is created functions on a capitalistic scale. This is cold: signs producing signs without passing through the flesh. It reduces our ability to develop empathy. The word simply becomes a written sign that can be interpreted on a screen, and not from another tangible, visible being. This can best be seen in the ads that appear on the side of a Gmail or Facebook account. After one’s words are enunciated through an e-mail or a status update, Google or Facebook automatically ingests the words. The words are then digested as capital and regurgitated as advertisements. These ads are catered to the individual based on the wants and needs that were expressed through the e-mail or the status update. The ads are catered to the individual with the sole purpose of encouraging them to accumulate more and buy more. What’s happening is communication that is no longer exchanged between two parties in a face-to-face exchange; a third party is now present, this third party being a capitalistic program that hijacks the word. The word then can no longer be sincere; it has now become part of capitalism, part of a system that does not emphasize quality (empathy and meaning) but quantity. I sought to hijack this system of hijacking through inhabiting YouTube, which is monetized by Google, and letting the poems become a part of the feed. Another example of capitalism taking language in as a tool is the word debt. Debt is not an actual thing. You cannot hold it. You cannot throw it away. It is an idea. It is a word. But through our belief in the power of this word, it becomes fear and it becomes a feeling. Language itself, in this circumstance, becomes a product. *** 165
Berardi defines our current situation as a crisis of social imagination. The social organism has become mutated through the current fragmented reality, through interacting with one another on a technological level instead of a spatial, physical level. I do not think that this can be changed. But I do think that it can be manipulated. What if one used this technology that has fragmented us, that has enabled us to count and document debt, that over stimulates us, what if one used it with the purpose of emphasizing, celebrating, and recognizing the deeply imbricated, fleshy interrelatedness of being human? What if I wrote poems for specific people instead of the network and let the poems exist in the form of videos in which my flesh is visible? Through THE FREE POEMS, I experienced moments in time that were blatantly shared between myself and that other individual, moments that were not simply textual like the majority of our relationships, but moments in which my gestures, my body, my energy were visible and audible. In realizing the poems in a physical way through the videos, I sought to embody sensibility: the ability of the human being to communicate what cannot be said with words (Berardi, 121). I wanted to use the internet: (YouTube, Facebook, tumblr, e-mail) to make these poems accessible, but at the same time I wanted to manifest the poems as a different version of a poetry reading. I wanted to create the experience of a poetry reading through a digital medium. I wanted to write poems toward something, toward another, toward a person, not toward no future. *** My generation is learning more language from screens than from our own physical relationships with other people and this is creating individuals that lack empathy, that are not bonding on a bodily level, but on a technological level. When language is learned from another body instead of a screen, there is a sentimentality that is imbedded in the
â€Š sensibility that is exchanged. The memory of that learning creates empathy in the word and in the communication. The current learning from screens and connecting through screens is syntactic and not based on empathy and sensibility. Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If the relationship to language is a technological one instead of a human relational one, then the language is not used with the human in mind, but with the machine in mind. Empathy disintegrates, a word no longer triggers feeling or actual beings, but ideas of feelings, ideas of beings. We begin to enter a world of fragmented images. Through the videos I wanted to use my body as a grounding point, a defragmentation of the image. I wanted to remember the body as the root of language. Language needs to come from the body again. I propose language that emerges out of the body and also recognizes the body. When I say body I am referring to the relation of the body to others, to other living beings and to non-living beings and not simply a turning of language in the mind, but a balance of both. I believed that if my gestures were visible and my voice audible I could give the poems a pulse. They have my physical pulse and in a way the pulse of the individual that asked for the poem. A poetics with a pulse is how I would like to re-imagine the future, a poetics that demands others to recognize one another. I would like to imagine a poetry that functions as a social experience, a social exchange, a social sharing with the final goal to understand the world, oneself, and other beings. I know thatâ€™s asking a lot from poetry, but I believe poetry is capable of this. Poetry is capable of becoming a radical therapy for coping with the current death of futurity. *** Through THE FREE POEMS I wanted to create an interactive community with poetry as the entry point. However, THE FREE POEMS, did not become the community I 167
â€Š envisioned. I had envisioned a dialogue to open up. And a dialogue did occur, but this dialogue rested primarily between the recipient and myself. I would not call this a failure so much as a miss-calculation. The parameters did not allow for an open forum community except for those on the Facebook feed:
â€Š In fact, one might say that what really occurred was a cult-like scenario:
A screenshot taken from The Free Poetry tumblr where the videos are posted as a collection.
I must admit that at times I did have this in mind. Me at the center. Celebrity Poet. It was a way of overcoming fear I had about being inadequate as a poet. If I say that I can write you a poem, that I can write a poem for 100 people, then it is assuming that I have the knowledge, the skill set, the ability to provide you with this. I had no references, no credentials, no qualifications to be promoting myself or poetry in such a way other than the fact that I said I could.
Despite this suggestion of narcissism, the desire I had for creating a community came as a response to Berardi’s social body, “When the social body is wired by techno-linguistic automatisms, it acts as a swarm: a collective organism who’s behavior is automatically directed by connective interfaces” (14). I interpret “techno-linguistic automatism(s)” as cell phones, television, and computers that are used habitually and mindlessly. I agree with Berardi’s statement, but I am not sure what he has in mind regarding changing this. I do not believe that I can change this. I think this wiring has become such a large part of our lives that to disown it or run away from it would be impossible. We know too much. So say this is all true. Say that this is how we function as a whole, that we are a swarm with a hive mentality, and that our behavior is easily directed by social networks or media; how can this situation be infiltrated? The messages that are inserted into these connective interfaces are stemming from desires that cause destruction. Capitalism is not based on creation, but on destruction. It is based on the destruction of natural resources in order to accumulate and does not seek to create new ways of being other than capitalism. Capitalism destroys any new ideas or ways that get in the way of accumulating more wealth. But what if the connective interface was infused with honesty? What if it was infused with an urging and an encouragement to display empathy and to transcend the current messages of destruction that we receive? I wanted to create my own interface, one that I had control over, one that I could distribute and infuse the poems with what I believed was a desire to overcome our current situation, my own current situation not of chaos, but of confusion. *** The 100 individuals of THE FREE POEMS have shared a moment. They are connected together through their desire for poetry. Since living beings asked for these poems I could not imagine writing them without empathy, empathy for them and empathy for myself. Photographers photograph families, painters paint portraits, rarely are writers requested to 170
simply write about another person just for the sake of it. There is a vulnerability in asking for anything. Capitalism teaches us that to ask for help is weakness. You should be able to rise up and support yourself and to ask for help means that you are incapable and selfish. In asking for a poem I do not mean that these individuals wanted help, but that they wanted connection, they wanted something from another human being, and I think that’s brave. I wanted at least, for however long the poem lasted, for the person to feel as if they mattered. I wanted the recipients to feel a part of something and I believe that this did occur as seen in an e-mail response I received from 1 of the 100:
I did not have a formula for empathy. If we are, as Berardi believes, losing our ability to empathize and since I didn’t know how to solve this problem on a massive scale, all I could think of was to write poems of empathy. I attempted to write poems of empathy 171
through addressing the individual in the poem directly or through making myself the focus of the poem in order to seek connection through an inward digression. Since one poem was written each day, my life became the material. Life is suffering and old age and sickness and death and this can all be seen in the thread of the poems. I have written poems for people that I was/am in love with that do not love me back. I grew older. I had a swollen lymph node in three of the videos. Someone who submitted three words committed suicide and I found myself writing her poem in memoriam. I see this project therefore as a documentation of a life, of lives that are all woven together on a virtual visible scale. I sought to write poems that were open, porous, and transparent and that others could see themselves in and through. In THE FREE POEMS I am not using the self as a mirror because that's rude and oppressive and makes me out to be someone that has enough power to be able to hold that mirror to you. That's not my job. My task as a poet is to express my own understanding and to not close it there, but to leave it open and panting so that the reader can find the rhythm of the breath and if they want to, breathe with it too. III. And so naturally Charles Olson’s ghost right now is jumping up and down and breathing really heavily saying pick me. Olson’s energy is tempting. His idea of transferring energy from poet to page to reader is exciting to me. I sought to write poems that would transfer energy, poems that would not end. Once the poem was written it was given away to the recipient and to the internet. It is now a video. It can be played over and over again. I saw the poems as my own energy release. My actual process of writing the poems was to let everything in, to let all perceptions in. The videos were an open field for me. In the videos I could fully emphasize, clarify, and elaborate on how I wanted the poem to exist. I knew that at least one person in the entire world would absorb the energy of the poem, which was definitely a self-nourishing equation I set up to feel appreciated. 172
The breath is the only action in our body that gives us life that we can control. We can control our lives via the breath and this is genuine, there is no falseness in this. As Olson writes: The line comes (I swear it) from the breath, from the breathing of the (wo)man who writes, at the moment that (s)he writes, and thus is, it is here that, the daily work, the WORK, gets in, for only (s)he, the (wo)man who writes, can declare, at every moment, the line its metric and its ending—where its breathing, shall come to, termination. A poem that breathes. A poem with life in it. By life I mean the presence of the neurotic, ecstatic, lethargic way our minds work. Since I wrote these poems to be performed, the breath dictated and influenced every line. In performing these poems I sought to embody that inner voice that wants to say everything. This was the most genuine way I could realize the poems – by portraying that struggling voice. And it is a struggle: how to be in this life now as we breathe, as the past and the future swirl over our eyes. This is a struggle of the self. In Who Speaks? Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading Ron Silliman suggests that the “self”: Proposes a relation between the poet, a real person with “history, biography, psychology,” and the reader, no less real, no less encumbered by all this baggage. In poetry, the self is a relation between writer and reader that is triggered by what Jakobson called contact, the power of presence…Roman Jakobson’s six functions of language— contact, code, signifier, signified, addresser, addressee—those elements active in each linguistic act, come into play only at the moment of presence, however compromised or partial that moment might be. In Jakobson's vocabulary, the category contact is nothing less than presence itself (365-373).
The self in these poems is a relational point that comes into being through contact. THE FREE POEMS are a moment of contact and the videos, my physical presence displayed, are realizations of that contact. All poems have a narrative psychology. Since we are humans making poems, humans that carry a narrative and a story, the poems will inherently posses this narrative psychology. The act of consciously trying to not have a narrative psychology – that has a narrative psychology within itself, it is there whether the writer intended to or not. These poems have intended narratives. *** My interest in incorporating and displaying the relationships of human to human or writer to reader also stems from an interest in improvisational theatre. In improv the most important person is your scene partner and how you support them. You have to be completely present with your partner, accepting what they have to offer, otherwise the scene will fail and this involves saying yes to everything. The first thing that one must say yes to is whatever word is given to them from the audience and from that word a scene is created (hence asking each individual to provide me with three words to create a poem). In improv the mantra is “explore, heighten, and transform,” which is precisely what I sought to do in creating and performing the poems. I wanted there to be an epiphany or realization in the poem, which could be attained through exploration, selfexploration/physical exploration. I wanted the poems to transform themselves and those that would watch and read them. IV. Since these poems were dealing with people, I began to feel and experience the benefits of being a part of and creating a coterie, but also the failures of it. I wanted to create a community, but what actually occurred was a coterie. This happened primarily because I was not dealing with 100 strangers, the majority of the 100 were friends or acquaintances, a good deal living in Brooklyn, NY and already a part of my daily coterie.
In terms of creating a porous speaking community in which the participants reached out to one another THE FREE POEMS failed, but in terms of creating a moment in time, an archive of my relationships with others, with Brooklyn, with my life, and with poetry, the project succeeded. THE FREE POEMS rests in two coteries: Pratt Institute (an institution) and Alt Lit (a group of writers that can be seen as anti-institutional in their approach to literature). My interest in Alt Lit began last spring after watching a series of poet Steve Roggenbuck’s (the prince of Alt Lit) videos on YouTube, specifically I Found Out My Dog Is An MFA Candidate. In this video Roggenbuck is recording himself with a hand held camera running around what appears to be his messy room, which he is claiming is his dog’s messy room, yelling obscenities about his dog, his penis, and great works of literature. What I find intriguing about Roggenbuck’s work (he also has e-books available online) is his synthesis of his personal passion for poetry along with a manic lust for life. Roggenbuck’s project is one of defining and creating his own culture, his own lifestyle in which he will often proclaim in shameless tweets and Facebook posts his complete and utter love for eating vegan pancakes while reading Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell. V. I soon discovered that Roggenbuck was not the only one making this kind of work. Alt Lit is a community composed mostly of young writers who employ social-media in their artistic practice, taking advantage of the internet to create and circulate their work. What drew me to Alt Lit was (1) the way its community/coterie functions and (2) its mass production of creative works. Since the sites that members of the Alt Lit community are socializing on inherently display their interactions (social networking sites are not simply a one-to-one recognition of a person, but a one-to-one plus whoever else is friends with those that are interacting) there is constant viewing and witnessing of relationships that can over shadow the viewing and discussion of the actual work. For example, in the Alt Lit community, there 175
is a desire to show support for fellow members by friending them on Facebook without ever meeting one another in real life. What then occurs is that a few individuals in the group appear to be at the forefront because of the high speed in which they post tweets on Twitter, statuses on Facebook, videos, and e-books. The community revolves around these figures and they begin to seem god-like, as the individuals of the community share these figures’ poems and tag them on Facebook. Some individuals even make memes or gifs that celebrate these figures. There is a shamelessness to this because it is occurring online and not person-to-person and the desire to be genuine seems to be the final goal. I personally struggled with the desire to be genuine in my work seeing that often an over abundance of a genuine attitude can begin to lack sincerity. After my submitted work to the blogs INTERNET POETRY and Alt Lit Gossip were accepted I felt a part of this community. Snck Pck began following me on Twitter. Steve Roggenbuck accepted my friend request. Even Beach Sloth started following me on tumblr. (I don’t think anyone knows who Beach Sloth really is, but if he blogs about your work apparently it is digital gold. He never blogged about my work.) So naturally at the beginning of THE FREE POEMS I tried to become Alt Lit royalty. This lasted for about a week. I found it difficult to keep up with the constant stream of postings and then to also post my own. I began to wonder if it the Alt Lit community was more based on creating relationships rather than discussing the actual work, which is pretty alternative in comparison to the prominent competitive nature of most art communities. *** However, I do find Alt Lit’s practice of mass-production of creative work exciting; it is freeing in that there is no such thing as the perfect piece. Since so much is produced at such a rapid rate there is no time to judge: all pieces become equal. But mass production is also problematic. The way media functions today is through bombardment. If one is constantly harassed with images and language at the high speed that we are currently experiencing, then there is no time to fully understand the signs. It then becomes fruitless to attempt to interpret the signs and so we do not try, we do not try to empathize and thus
we become desensitized. If we spent the time trying to interpret we could not keep up and participate in the capitalistic game. I did not want THE FREE POEMS to reject interpretation through mass-producing poems, but I did want, for myself, to lose the fetishization that comes with writing a poem or creating a piece of art. If I had to write a poem every day and give it to that person that day there was no time to mull over it. Anything I wrote would be perfect, because that was the best I could do. Another reason I had for mass-producing poetry was to insert it into the conversation of capitalism so that it could interact with a different community. The poems entered into the conversation as videos on the highly trafficked site of YouTube. Since the poems did not look like poems there were no expectations that they had to fulfill, which provided the poems with another layer of freedom. If THE FREE POEMS is in alignment with Alt Lit through the use of videos and the internet, it might also be resonant with the New Sincerity Poetry movement. In his essay, An Accidental Appreciation, poet Matt Hart defines New Sincerity in poetry as a poetry based on the ideas that: 1) capital-B Beauty and other aesthetic and human values are real and available to us both experientially and intellectually 2) that language is so inefficient with regard to the expression of essentials that we need poetry to make it work significantly 3) that as poets, we need to emphasize poetry as a means to an end, rather than merely as an end in itself 4) that poetry needs to utilize the experimental muscle of the last century to move beyond mere experimentation and instead start amounting to something—something fully beautifully human.
I would like to interpret “beautifully human” here as what makes up our daily existence, the mundane, the habits, the relationships. This idea that elements of daily life can serve as the core material for the poem fueled the project. My days began to matter not only to me, but also to another. In regards to Hart’s second statement, I do not think that language has become “so inefficient” in terms of expressing essentials. I think that there is a lot of interesting work coming out of the language that is used on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. What makes these works compelling is that they are rubbing up against what it is to communicate and live in a dual existence of digital and physical. I agree with Hart in that we ought to harness poetry as a location from which to come at expression. I mean expressing with the sole goal of connecting. I think that the language that is happening on these interfaces is often not so much of connecting, but of proclaiming or displaying; the audience is infinite, there is not a focal point, and so the connection cannot be singled out. Poetry should be a means to an end; it should seek to create knowledge and to make that quest or the actual acquiring of the knowledge and the understanding of it, accessible. Poetry that can transform is possible and with the access to so many new forms and experimental approaches the modes of communicating knowledge empathetically is incredible and great. Through harnessing video and inhabiting the internet, I see THE FREE POEMS as gateway poems: poems that because of their accessibility in our current heavily technological mediated world could reintroduce individuals to poetry. Often in poetry’s attempt to create new forms, through experimenting and manipulating with new mediums, the poet’s presence is suppressed. In New Sincerity the poet is present. The poet is attempting to use sincerity to overcome the current irony in the majority of poetry and art that is currently produced. In this circumstance irony is a coping mechanism in terms of dealing with the current situation in which we feel we have no future. Irony exists in these poems through over criticality and self-deprecation. There is no desire to make a shift or a change; there is an acceptance of the dismal 178
situation, or there is apathy. New Sincerity seeks beauty and attempts to convey and embrace that beauty. This does not mean that the poems are “happy” poems. Quite the contrary, they have the ability to occupy states of irony, of bliss, of anger, of love, but all the while recognizing that those are simply states of being a human, and that the poem is serving as a vessel to navigate those states. This navigation is what is sincere. In Something That Stutters Sincerely Jennifer Moore examines New Sincerity in the works of poet Matt Hart: Hart writes, “In poetry, one has to be open, willing, and able to fail every second. One has to court it, failure. Something’s at stake.” The idea of risking anything implies that what is being risked has a certain value; what’s at stake for these writers seems to be the possibility of human expression in any form. The hazards involved with the divulgence of interiority (embarrassment, sentimentality, readerly critique) turn it into a necessity in which one is required to risk the self in order to produce art.
I would like to see this willingness to court failure in terms of poetic failure, but also the failure that is present in the attitude toward the future that I was discussing earlier. I sought to write poems that could embrace the failure, but also go further by giving the poem to another being. In these poems I wanted to illustrate the duality of these two actions of acknowledging the pain and the suffering, but also finding a beauty in it. I felt at risk in these poems. I think I would not have felt a risk if I had written them without the intention of giving them to someone else. I felt that I had no choice but to risk myself if I were to generate the empathetic connection that I sought. In attempting to achieve a genuine human expression through sincerity and sentiment, the outcome though can become one of sentimentality. The overuse of sincerely trying to be as realistic as possible in fact results in irony and can create a feeling of detachment in the reader. What then ends up happening in many of the New Sincerity poems is that they take on a tone of boredom or lack of agency because the poem is so overcome by the presence of the speaker. 179
THE FREE POEMS are poems that aim to be genuine. When they are in the form of videos they function as sincere, but often when viewed as texts they do risk inhabiting a realm of sentimentality. I believe that this sincerity is present in the videos because of sensibility, which as I mentioned earlier, is of saying what cannot be said with words through physical gestures. Over sincerity occurs in language and at times in THE FREE POEMS when one can see the struggle, a struggle within myself of wanting so much for words to do what words often cannot do. VI. For the first 20 poems I felt like a bad-ass, like a really good looking dog in Fort Greene Park owned by a really good looking 30-something with a daily artistic practice and some sort of successful small organically run business. I received constant positive attention: no one was going to criticize a project that was about giving people free things. If someone wanted a poem it felt like they wanted me. Although this attention became problematic later on, it was beneficial to have others watching me create. I was forced to develop a consistent writing practice, which led to a confidence in my writing that I had never before experienced. With THE FREE POEMS I had to be comfortable with putting my relationships with other people on display. This display made me hyper critical of myself, particularly how I wanted to present myself. I would say there was about 10 or 11 people that I wrote poems for that I was in love with or had been in love with or was obsessed with and wanted them to be obsessed with me. The poem I wrote for my ex got the most views. At times it felt like a reality TV show with my relationships with others embodied in the poems and on video. For example I liked this guy. I had told him about the project and he requested a poem. Then we went on a date and things just didn’t work out. But I still had to write a poem for him. Since I received multiple requests daily and I was only making one poem a day, 180
there was a time lag between the request and the actual receiving of the poem. Three weeks after The Date I found myself sprawled on the floor at 11:30 P.M. (I had to post the poem by midnight) really not wanting to be THAT girl, you know the girl that writes a poem for you and posts it on the internet when you haven’t spoken in 21 days.
Recipient Lancelot Runge #13 wrote and recorded the response poem ANNIE PARADIS.
I had to accept that if I was going to be THAT girl I might as well be IT girl. It felt great. I ran into people on campus that said they watched a poem everyday after class and around poem #15 a few friends told me that when they had trouble writing or when they felt low they would watch their videos. Individuals that had received poems began following me on tumblr or on YouTube. There were about 10 regulars who would always “like” the poems on Facebook or reblog them on their blogs. At this point in the process the positive feedback encouraged me to continue on with the project. It was instant gratification since I could know immediately, the day of creating a poem, if people enjoyed it. I could know what individuals liked about a specific poem and the next day I could incorporate it into the new poem. This knowledge, that the poems would be seen and listened to the day they were created made me increasingly aware of the poems themselves. I found myself wanting to write poems that people would enjoy, poems that would get stuck in their head, poems that would make them keep watching and not forget about me.
A poem by recipient #26, John Kropa.
As the project progressed and received more attention it became clear that many individuals enjoyed the poems because of how energetic they were. I began to feel as if it could not be other wise. This was difficult because my neutral state is someone who is extroverted, but by poem #30 not just the writing of the poems, but being the person in the videos, started to feel like a job. *** THE FREE POEMS began to consume me. I would wake up and look at the three words and throughout the day they would hum in my mind. I grew anxious about having to be home for a chunk of time each day to write and record and upload the poem. I designed this project to feel less alone. I had resisted the idea of the lone writer up in their attic writing and writing. I thought that through writing for others and through using social networking sites I could circumvent it, but I did end up writing and recording the poems alone in my room. I don’t know what that means for a poet. I think that solitude is important, but I think that it is what one does with the poem after it is created i.e. sharing
the work with other bodies in a social space to take it out of its internal, lone space is just as important. I began to constantly check the social network sites that the poems were on: my Facebook, my tumblr, my Gmail, my Twitter. I didn’t want to leave any e-mail unresponded to, any notification un-clicked. The poems existed on a virtual scale and this was the validation. I found myself on the computer for hours. I even joined the online dating site OkCupid for the third time even though previously I had no luck whatsoever. This was not a good idea. Since I was spending so much time talking to people online (recipients were corresponding with me about poetry and Alt Lit kids were sending me their poems) and observing other’s receptions of the poems, I just thought: OH HEY I CAN HAVE A COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS HERE WHY NOT FIND A BOYFRIEND HERE TOO which turned into WHY TALK TO PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE AND TRY TO GET A MATE THERE WHEN I CAN SEE ALL THEIR STATISTICS HERE??? I deleted the OkCupid account after a week *** The most freedom I ever felt during the project was in the free-writing stage of the poem. I would write the three words at the top of a large unlined sketchbook and free-write weaving the three words in and out and letting myself repeat them if I wanted to. There was no form I had to adhere to. I could let go and not have to worry about who would like it. There was a calmness in the free-writing because I always knew that the poem was inside of that page. The free-writing was the poem before it became anything. But then people I knew started dying. Milly Dionne committed suicide two weeks before I would write her poem. I only knew her through a brief e-mail correspondence; she had found the project on Alt Lit gossip and told me she really liked the infomercial and wanted a poem with the words lonely, horny, and cold. A week after she passed, a friend was killed in a hit and run bike accident, and then a family friend’s grandfather passed away. 183
I had become increasingly exhausted from attempting to maintain a high energy in the poems. The recording of the videos could go anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and half, until I felt satisfied with the result. The bombardment of death turned the exhaustion into sickness and sadness. With swollen lymph nodes, eating poorly, and a lack of sleep, doubt began to manifest. Were these poems even genuine? I felt fake. I convinced myself that I was not allowed to be sick or sad in the poems, if I was then I wasn’t adhering to the project. Although I believed I was successfully covering up these feelings with my performances, anxiety and fear still came out in the poems. I mean you can see my swollen lymph node in three of the videos. I am loopy on penicillin for four of them. Everything was a part of the poem therefore, whether I wanted it to be or not. But I told myself that these were supposed to be gifts and you don’t give people broken gifts and so the poems took on a sense of sacrifice to me. I felt as if I was on the edge of breaking as I gave myself away daily. *** By poems #30-#40 I felt numb toward the poems. But I kept making them, and for many mornings, they were a reason to get up. I had made a commitment, no matter how false it felt at times, a commitment to myself and to someone else. Those poems were pretty successful to me because of that. They meant nothing in way, because in order to cope with my anxiety, I developed a mentality of just getting it done instead of giving a gift. I did not allow myself to fetishize the poem, but to just get it done. Poems #40-50 were a struggle. Poem #42 was for Milly Dionne. Leading up to her poem, I had begun to feel immense doubt in the project. I had been working on it for over fifty days and felt like I had lost the thrill. It felt inappropriate to be writing a poem for someone I had never met who had died. I didn’t want to be using her for my own benefit. Milly had been heavily involved in the Alt Lit community, so I knew for a fact that many of those individuals would see the video. I felt uneasy about interrupting a mourning 184
â€Š period with a poem for my thesis. The poem for Milly brought a pause to the project and made me truly stop and think about what I wanted out of it in terms of relating with people in my present life. Nevertheless I am a nervous person. I have an obsessiveness that is destabilizing. I thought that if I set myself up with parameters I could use my nervous energy to perhaps stabilize myself through creating something outside of myself. But by poem #50, I was destabilized. Hurricane Sandy hit New York and I considered stopping the project. *** After poem #50 I took a day off and gave myself permission to stop the project. If I wanted to continue the project and still feel good about it and myself, I needed to take care of myself. I needed to take steps toward calming myself before and after the poems. I needed to mentally cleanse myself of any recurring feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or attachment to the poem everytime I began. I had to give myself permission to be my whole self in the poems, to be sad or sick or hungover. People would still be connected. I did not need to be at such a high level all the time; I did not need to be perfect. I began only making the poems in the morning along with stepping away from the computer once it was posted. Although I had ceased fetishizing over the poem itself, I had been fetishizing over the attention I was receiving. From time to time I would burn incense before recording the poem or rub lavender oil on my wrists. I found that if I did these gestures of kindness toward myself, I was able to give kindness to the poem and not be hard on myself. After experiencing a sort of breakdown, after poem #50 I had to re-learn how to trust myself. I had to re-learn how to trust my writing abilities and recognize that it wasnâ€™t just me or the videos that people liked, but also the actual poems. 185
The purging that I was doing, purging of my writing and my energy could no longer leave me powerless, I had to see that I had plenty to give, which is why I felt the need to get rid of so much. At the beginning of the project it was a restlessness energy that allowed me to write the poems, but from #50 on it became a controlled power, a confidence that I had worth within me to give to others. ***
A poem by Jack Nachmanovitch, recipient #82.
The second half of the project had good days and bad days, but there was a lightness. I found rhythm through a renewed practice of letting the poem go after it was written. The beginning goal, to play with poetry, resurfaced. After completing poem #100 ANNIE PARADIS I felt uncertain about the texts of the poems as a book on their own. I didn’t think they could accomplish the same things as the videos. And they don’t. The texts are different poems than the videos. Everything in the video is part of the poem – the way I introduce the poem, the glow of the screen, how frizzy my hair is that day – all of these elements are the poem. The texts are another form for the poems to be realized in. 186
THE FREE POEMS is a project of acceptance. There are a few poems in which I forgot to include all of the recipient’s requested words. I did feel bad about this, but in the same way that one would accept a gift, I have learned to accept what I have created without criticizing and laboring at it and just let it go out into the world. THE FREE POEMS led me to a new way of writing and experiencing poetry. I no longer feel tied down to writing the perfect poem. I see the value in editing and revising, but the perfect poem does not exist. I think it is good from time to time to set yourself up in a situation of instant gratification. You deserve it. THE FREE POEMS came at a time when I needed it. Instead of focusing and worrying about the future, about life after college and obsessing over losing my Pratt writing community, I experienced the days fully as I wrote from them. And wonderfully enough, THE FREE POEMS has provided me with a new combined community of Alt Lit kids and Pratt students that I had gone to school with for four years, but never knew of their love for poetry. *** THE FREE POEMS were purges. I was, in the words of the theorist Georges Bataille, “At the mercy of a need for limitless loss” (174). I wanted to empty myself not at the cost of myself, but at the benefit of others. I wanted to lose everything about myself – my lines, my stories, all the things that I believed determined me in my work. I wanted to lose it. In purging, one disowns excess, but inevitably creates excess. Like a glowing purge, this excess is THE FREE POEMS. 187
Works Cited Bataille, Georges. The Bataille Reader. Ed. Fred Botting and Scott Wilson. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1997. Print. Berardi, Franco “Bifo”. The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012. Print. "empathy." oxforddictionaries.com. Oxford Dictionary 2013. Web. 12 March 2013. Farr, Roger. "Anarchist Poetics." From Anarchism to Activism. Vancouver Public Library. 10 June 2005. Lecture. Hart, Matt. "An Accidental Appreciation: A Few Pieces on Gregory Corso with a Nod Toward a New Sincerity." Octopus Magazine Issue 06. Octopus Magazine. n.d. Web. 15 March 2013. Moore, Jennifer. "Something that stutters sincerely: Contemporary poetry and the aesthetics of failure." Jacket 2. 3 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 March 2013. Olson, Charles. “Projective Verse: 1950.” Poetryfoundation.org. 1950. Web. 15 March 2013. Silliman, Ron. “Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading.” Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. Ed. Charles Bernstein. New York: Oxford, 1998. 360-78. Print. "Terms of Service." YouTube.com. 9 June 2010. Web. 15 March 2013.