Anselm berrigan


Lengthening Arches

I gave up early on the search

for the source, taking halting

steps along my recovery, and

yet it was not so wracked with

difficulty, that disavowal of

energies one conjures from

pictures of plagues. I had some

images, their fleeting contours

bred to provoke a system of

scanning I’d later teach others

to acknowledge and lose. That’s

taking credit for waking up,

and we don’t like that. Three

encourages bad decisions, hand

drawn to simulate the time

stolen at the well-lit end of the

street. But I desist in remarking

upon your infallibility with

relation to proper naming the

local avians. Someone picked

up a hawk’s name, I forgot it,

told someone else it had a name,

though clearly not taking part

in the act, the hawk I mean,

with regards to non-participation,

a certain protest on my part,

this forgetting, and daily I

resist looking its name up on

the web, to keep things unreal.

And that’s the shit I get for

attempting to separate nature

from naming, another set of

giggling decisions taunting us

as we delve into the drop off

service. That said, you may

certainly borrow the seat next

to me, elevated as it might

be, and yet homogenous with

shadowy distinction. But I

take pleasure in the fact that

our opinions often have

the honor of coinciding 

with yours, and that we follow

them, though far behind,

proclaiming their ruddy virtues.

We’re surrounded by testimony

to the will of organic processes

as they depart from their means

and breed plastic flocks of time-

resistant doves. On page four

the king of the sea and his

battle penguins ward off their

colorful enemies, or so a scan

re-reveals on a hunt for spoilers

in the deep night. I can’t wait

for you to operate. I apologize

for using the word procedure.

I kicked the chair nearby, right

in its red, and said “sorry,

chair.” Tis not so necessary

as it once was to fear and

consider the present tense

and plight of the cannibal,

yet I cannot help but think

these times infected by a deeper

meaness than savagery. Though,

yeah, illusions are a dime a

dozen and the twenty, that

yuppie food stamp, will net

you many minutes worth of

illusory surfaces if you’re a

savvy shopper: these liquid

anti-oxidants for instance;

that book of wisdom a half

millennium old; the red velvet

cupcakes tempting us from

behind the counter. The signs

for the washing of hands instill

a thickening resentment towards

dirt’s absence as we navigate

the gaps between moments of

silence. These upside down

blank white pages reek of

humility, which is what seaward

tenement but an on-an-edge

cluster bomb teasing your

material comforts under its

so-called protection. Wassup

guys? How you doing? This

is Wanda. She wiped out the

mutant population with an

utterance then vanished until

redrawn this very evening.

Spirituality, human emotion,

the weight loss of history, and

selved identity: these would

be little remarkable in such a

scheme if they didn’t produce

caducous cacophony. But it’s

sad, I like to touch the parts,

to be the last person to touch

the part that’s coming off.

Precision Auto

These prefab greens are part of a sale system

of red dots reserved for those whose demise

was thought predetermined by the timing

of their abuses. You are asleep under a stitched

face sold for warmth between scales of extreme

snowfall, memorial readings of butterfly attacks

on Seventh Ave., and the exile’s octuplets

refusing the capacity of dreams to give waking

outline of body to I who were alive. The restroom

is for steel cut customers only wearing expensive

jackets three sizes too small. There’s something

insidious about this music one pays to listen for

as if the perk of employment is lacerating the ears

of our artifice to form a profile of togetherness. 

That rap jaked an emerald gaming to get ahead of

every concept of elsewhere, dilated pupils following

the local smoke signals, I mean trading that rainbow

beaten down to tears for a greasier grill from which

to pay the bills. Isn’t pre-judgment an overly natural

affect anyhow? A dusky matter in need of cosmic

perversion. There’s still no bond of reality between

money and enough. I see your indifference and raise

you an impractical salute, lest a diner counter fantasy

of the body next door demanding to be taught rear

its proof of useful existence and become a welcome

ledge to teeter upon. Shall we summon a mutual

projection of other memory? Collapse the great dead

zone of mass will forcing every moment out of issue?

Anselm Berrigan's most recent book of poems is Free Cell, published in 2009 by City Lights. Notes from Irrelevance, a book-length poem, will be published by Wave Books in 2011. He is co-editor of Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan, forthcoming from U. of California in February, 2011, and poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail (