T R Y
Copyright ÂŠ 2015 by Nathaniel Rosenthalis All Rights Reserved
ISBN: 978-1-937739-73-7 Published by Deadly Chaps Press (emergence) New York, NY 2015 DCs5NR|2| Book Design by Joseph A. W. Quintela Cover Art by Prudence Groube
www.deadlychaps.com Portland New York London
THE LABOR OF ARDOR 1 PASTORAL 3 ON CLARIFYING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PERVERSITIES AND THE NOSTALGIAS 4 TIME: A DIALOGUE 5 YOU SHOULD MOVE TO THE CITY 7 A MELODY IS MYSTERIOUS BECAUSE TIME ONLY HAS ONE DIRECTION 8 WITH THE AUTHORITY OF 9 BEING DRAWN MEANS BEING STILL (FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN) 11 THE PLAYHOUSE 12 VITA NOVA 14 THE COLORLESS JOURNAL 15
SISSY 16 WHO DOESN’T GO 17 HERE IS A CAMERA 18 A CRUELTY 19 THE PROOF 20 MY DEADPAN GLAMOR 21 TRAVELER’S QUIZ 22 THERE IS ACTIVITY IN A LANDSCAPE, I.E. CONDUCT 24 MOVING DAY 30 WHAT CONSTITUTES A SEPARATE STAGE OF EVOLUTION IN A LIFE FORM’S HISTORY 32 NOTES 34 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 36 ABOUT THE AUTHOR 37
T R Y
THE LABOR OF ARDOR
Here and now was captivating. No longer did he teem. The sun rose. He went on with routine. The huge dark core wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t music or sexual desire. He bought vegetables, ate bread. Slept. More became a cable pulled by day between trees, varied fragments stinging. Summer remained on holiday. When was over. The surface was emphasized every day. A rained account of zero interest.
“Want to play tennis?” “No, no thank you.” He was a sight, a border at the edge of abundance. (Drastic lavender flowers. The seasons changed.)
“I want to be free—to go where I want when I want and think whatever” vs. “hating somebody” vs. “being free” by “leaving behind my body” i.e. “your body” which is “not easy.” “I know it” is what landed you here isn’t it.
ON CLARIFYING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PERVERSITIES AND THE NOSTALGIAS
I said, “If the world is round, is it wrong to prove what I mean by flatness?” By License and Liberty Avenues is the public fountain. On summer nights, it’s a pissing spot for those who waltz near in pink, a fedora, even one who I wouldn’t mind —I think of it—sucking off, being me. He’d show me his. And what would I do I ask me. Opal is a mineral fact. We love it. Dawn hits the avenue hard. He’d say, “I don’t think so, no.” I’ll say. I will not. Why? Why not? I sleep in till dawn and wake up half like a beer, half like the hand unscrewing one. O they say it’s a Moment. It happens in time.
TIME: A DIALOGUE
Why are you so sad you can’t write poems Because I should be able to Why—writing poems isn’t natural really Yes it is Poetry is artifice But it gets to what is real What is most real to you right now Being in bed with no love No love? Lots of sex but no, no love I’m glad you know the difference Me too Tell me why you are sad again My friend says my poems aim too small Why does this make you sad I am a genius, I want to show the world true feeling What gets you to the universal The specific, not the small
OK, why wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you take it up the ass Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m afraid of pain and disease Tell me more I need to feel like he is a real man a true man, sorry I know Which would make you Just a thing that slobbers on him You watch too much porn I know What about your bed, is it big I can host an orgy of 100 men easy Why are you so sad Love is not real to me What will you do with your time I will write poems, here I am
YOU SHOULD MOVE TO THE CITY
I’m interested in the edge I strive toward. The way in which today exposes the way I strive. It’s an illusion, the way I look at the past. I’m a three-point perspective system. The pull. The massive isolation one is. Always, almost. Crowds interest me. I want, I want to find the existing ways by looking for the unexpected. I add myself. Every other element has been added. And they relate. I manipulate. I can integrate almost. I try. Memory says, if one is lost one has arrived. It is in a loop. The audio borrows.
A MELODY IS MYSTERIOUS BECAUSE TIME ONLY HAS ONE DIMENSION
O do not O do not go Stay Stay with me Do not Go but stay Stay with me here
WITH THE AUTHORITY OF
Man, dog, bird, and whale—evolution proceeds by modifying existing components. It sticks to it. Lavishness of organelles is fundamental wistfully. My broken-down hierarchy is the heal-over of cruelty. The horse is kicked by the dog it bites on a run through a storm of starlings that cry “Make Yourself Safe!” I got all the stuff for a sphere so large I could only laugh. I finish my exercise on color just in time to go for a walk in the park. It’s Sunday. Please come home. There is always instinct and so there is. Endless vision is no reason why a harmonious whole can’t result. Is my vision a scroll? What harmony? These are the questions. I see the dogs in the park and I’ll make a scroll to show them to you. Let me capitulate, O eyeless flies.
My figure is a given, like a watch in a wind-down. Didn’t we care? Even though? For as cheap as the supply is? Now I see a miniscule buffet and things begin. Be my star, wired alike to hold contempt—enough to be wired alike. The castrati were clearly not an example of adding a part—if only for the repertoire, sequences change. Draw me your talk. Adrowse in talk back. The sea lion was first imagined around 1554 from reports of a four-legged fish that roared with rare brass. Give me a vase and on it I’ll place two profiles earlier than later in their rage.
BEING DRAWN MEANS BEING STILL (FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN)
I turn myself over to check the clock that drops a sheen. What is time for. You can’t carve it, just crave it to be more than itself, as if a daily basis had a rebel base, which it does. It’s called the mind and it stops the odd moment to let curtains drop, in the pain of discontinuous, backward-facing thought. Could it be you? Dead long ago? No, it is not. It’s the gathering of filmic botheration, molecular and not.
Let nothing be what it is. Desperately. Oranges in bowls. A fallen curtain. The lace of a shade-tree wheeled on at a diagonal. Let’s be one another. More leaves please. “How could you?” “How could I not?” Let the girl give her bully laugh. Her smirk á la mode. The decade is lit from behind. Let unsuspecting persons be seen. Let the dialect cloud the air of a coach that really works. Let’s ride. The perfect swell from the pit intimates nostalgia before the fact. Let’s fit each inch of storm. Let’s play the thunder to the light, let each addled bit
addle and the storm storm. Let the eyes twinkle as no slight, no remorse. The wigs propose. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s let the house stand for this. Let nothing be what it is.
Vita Nova in the Autumn when my mother died. And I have the right to the public sense of mourning. I cannot convey the scatter of black birds singly scorched but I can say the scatter of black birds singly scorched. And I can hear my mother say, Niel I can just see it The scatter of black birds singly scorched.
THE COLORLESS JOURNAL
The year lost fifteen pounds as he ate. His face wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t smaller. He undressed like an insect. Blown fact looked struck: he stared at his body for the longest time.
excels in self-awareness. She’d ask, How do I feel at night versus day, and if there’s a pattern what can I do about it? And she’d know. At the same time, few say “I’m like this” and have that be forever true, like a stopped clock. It takes a long time to accept what it is inside yourself wants you dead. My own episodes come out at me all at once. And then it’s impossible to remember what it was like when it wasn’t autumn. Mellow, mellow, mellow. The longer I go without contact with people, the more I think I can live without them— which simply isn’t true. Sissy offers tips. How to connect, how to process. Which only makes me recoil. It feels like Sissy and I are getting on in old age, but that isn’t the case. Even now we have much of life ahead of us.
WHO DOESN’T GO
It’s decided. You know after you come you made the right choice to fuck no one. Let arabesques be anybody’s. Never isn’t nothing any more than a wall looks like today.
HERE IS A CAMERA
It’s a quick click to turn tomorrow on, only the question is will I be there in front of the tree and smiling and with the wind goodly in my hair that I can’t stop but feel the grace of it there no there, in my shirt, ruffling now as it always did on days like this my love (“I love you,” you said)…if you thought that from that I was made, I was in a way, which is why there is so much to say now: “literally, forever,” only when the sun is out in this way, it’s not just a lonely world, it’s the true cry of that loneliness, which can only be developed further from how it knew—I mean, I knew—joy once, the way your head fell to my shoulder in the big thankfulness of sleep can’t help but mean the dark note of that fall, which is where your gracious grin begins from, isn’t it.
Even if I said I did it what would stop me from a repeat? What would stop? Even if I said I did it? Even if I left you I will leave you— I will let him go down on me— what would stop me? Even if I said I did it what would stop me from a repeat
My heart’s like butter you spread on the bread that is your heart that is, what’s already dead. Better to be butter that can take the smoothing out than the bread that is already dead. Better to be dead than to be a heart full of butter that no one ever spread. The dead heart’s butter is beautiful and dead on the bread tomorrow spreads. “My heart’s like butter” says tomorrow. Tomorrow is dead Today is not Today is butter Today is bread
MY DEADPAN GLAMOR
was another way to assure myself any frame could hold the future and that to speak the future I did not need to moan, necessarily.
Did you expect life to be kind to you? a) I didn’t, but it was b) A lack of history in me says, Of course c) I admire the perspective of the question d) I’m absent-minded often, so yes, as I was able to What tipped you off the landscape was changing? a) The smirch I was in gross reflections b) Egregious egrets were no longer c) My lotus d) My yard looked like my bank account What makes you cry? a) A movie about me with music at good moments b) An aquarium with few fish c) Bees whose ancient company has diminishing returns d) Patterns; see motto of Wilkes-Barre, PA: “Pattern after Us” Will you move back to New York? a) No, I look nothing like my haircut anymore b) Office experience is required but not desirable c) Will I ever “belong” to the burden of remembering? d) Futility is a variant of probability, so yes, probably
What are you afraid of, you who fidgets constantly? a) I’ll turn my head away and thus my life b) There’s nowhere else to place my bet, will you be my horse? c) I’ve waited a long time for this d) My license plate reads “O I N V U” You’ve come to a human clearing, so you a) Hold your animal ear against a
b) Invest in the stars c) Feed yourself by any means necessary d) Feed yourself to death, knowing what’s next is better than best You’re destined to fail; this is a) A very strict interpretation, ha b) My bad c) A blessing d) Becalming
THERE IS ACTIVITY IN A LANDSCAPE, I.E. CONDUCT
1. “Take an interest in things outside” People in sunlight? Being looked at was weighted to the pavement. People moved and were shorter further away. He would see trees. Fountains. All broken together. Outlines fell in blank windows. Eyes tramped. It felt like overhead was over. He repeated to himself: queer, queer, queer, queered. Crossed revelations were where chairs were. Seats in snow. “I’ll have creased roses, trash, the missionary sea, tapped theories, and balm without situation.” Old days sat. Amazing. With flowers. The effect was absurd. Later: catastrophe to ecstasy then back again. He laughed seriously. Later was sentimental. “Sentimental.” Would he say that? People were, more or less. Inlaid glass, bald-looking and crying. Privacy was not embarrassment, but had the same green dresses. A party with people all over the room, also outside.
The surface was sense. With brambles to come. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I know all that.â&#x20AC;? Applause left: summer, shoulders, indifferent dumbbells and circles of glass. A faint sweat on the lip.
2. Possibly, Possibly “Young men”—was that a thought? He thought: 1) of understanding
that there might have been
2) delight in seeing the city. 3) “I can’t keep up.” He was like an old man in finery at night in darkness. Sights seemed to repeat and go away, like trains themselves. He was a boy. To speak made an edge and chatter was fear. He was sorrowed and smiling. Of course his eyes married life. To enjoy the moment was to make a sketch of it. There would be a bed at home. “Lovers”? Who knew. In came the stage whenever. Every same emotion bursts. Differences were dresses and he was alive to over-dressing
in the ancient summer. He had ice in a glass to watch the pageant. He had a boy for the fiftieth time and the world was not famous. “We all have our moments of depression.” Was that this? All arrangements murmur a lot. Did he know nothing? For example, “years ago” was just one thing, one thing, one thing.
3. He Sat in Daylight “One must take risks.” How? The brick walls red. The background of bees and butterflies. -necklaces -an umbrella -roses -a pillow -wind -the sofa He sat in daylight, down a sense of flowers. Scientific warmth. He slept.
4. No, It’s a Party Here, here, thudded the street. People had a theory: not knowing met every day head on: a walk, yellow curtains, trees. Every day agreed differently. Rascals, brains, old toadies. They were dear. “Vagulous”? Vague. Someone said at the end of a speech, “That’s all,” which annoyed him. Depths were: a mother, a sister; manners, costumes, youth; a dead father. Each would fall into a place it replaced. There, there. There was nobody, and there was him. And then, of course, there was nothing.
Today I bought a house and decided to paint the outside bright turquoise. I also had the yard to plant. Exactly as I started to haul the 40 lb. bags of mulch to the back, a boy yelled “Don’t look at me – look at your own self!” The dad looked nonplussed as he settled the two kids on the steps. I waved and before I could return to my duty I got a phone call from my friend Grace. “I don’t want to live anymore, what is there to live for?” I will call her back because the baby trees have arrived in the back of a green truck. I put the trees
out back and took some pictures and called. And I had mail waiting for me! “Dear Niel,” it said. It was a postcard with two laughers haloed in lapis lazuli.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A SEPARATE STAGE OF EVOLUTION IN A LIFE FORM’S HISTORY
“At Heron Island no herons live.” Illustrations are even included. The map at the back is complete with a portrait of the artist in a wide tie. “It’s better to be lonely than to be unhappy,” starts the book called Wouldn’t You Know It, which turned out to be about discord (of course) with reality. Q: How do you confirm nonexistence? A: You don’t. “Hundreds of illusions charted as land.” They are stitched with a generic sea.
“The Labor of Ardor” and “The Colorless Journal” are erasures of Haruki Murakami’s novel Colorless Tsukuru
Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. “You Should Move to the City” is an erasure of the M.F.A. thesis of Thomas Moore, a visual artist in the M.F.A. program at Washington University in St. Louis. The poem was solicited for the occasion of that program’s Art Thesis Catalog, and it is in reference to a video piece by Thomas Moore, “Chimeric Realities.” You can view the piece on: https://vimeo.com/124374291. “With the Authority of” borrows language from Arthur Koestler’s Ghost in the Machine. “The Play House” borrows language from a chapter of the same name from Tom Brown’s Amusements Serious and
Comical. “Traveler’s Quiz” is a response to the call of Timothy Donnelly’s “Traveler.” “There Is Activity in a Landscape, i.e. Conduct” is a booklength erasure of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The idea for erasing Mrs. Dalloway came from Mary Jo Bang’s “Let’s Say Yes,” which is also an erasure of that novel.
“What Constitutes a Separate Stage of Evolution in a Life Form’s History” was written in response to Elizabeth Kolbert’s
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.
Deep gratitude to my teachers and my cohort at Washington University in St. Louis. Thank you to my teachers and writing friends from Sarah Lawrence and Ursinus Colleges. All my love to my family. Thank you to TINGE for publishing â&#x20AC;&#x153;On Clarifying the Difference between the Perversities and the Nostalgias.â&#x20AC;? Thank you to Joseph A. W. Quintela for asking to see this chapbook in the first place and to Prudence Groube for making the beautiful cover.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born on August 22, 1989, Niel Rosenthalis was raised in Wilmington, Delaware. He received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and is currently a candidate in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at Washington University in St. Louis.