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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
The New Economics of Late Capitalism

The Latecomer
by Daniel Y. Harris

Give me initiative, spermatic, prophesying,  
man-making words.

                  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hyperreality, the erotic basis of all things new, and poets
crop up where critics
                                  are mere disguises, spectral,
in debt as long as duration collects,
gaping toward anxiety.
                                      Say it's a desire
for a time without boundaries,
part dance,
part vitality with globules
                                          of color, etheric holes,
streams of photons, capsules, vectors,  
webs and orbits: add to this  
a world written  
on the back of this one, and cut from glare
with switching centers for all the networks of influence,
like blank parody or blank irony,  
                                                     points elsewhere,
yet here: here, where techno-absorption  
conspires to blur, runs in front of its shadow,               
for ambrosial images of each one of us
standing in the modems of the age:
the cityscape to stand for us, same as above,
not reliable, fear riddling the ground with its plugs,
when an image is thrown,  
event to the continuum,
                                       person to man to thing,
skull-rooted axis to remote codes, in manic, half-nubile
surges of unregulated information.
At least self-reliant,
reconciler of opposites,  
                                       spellbinding inclusion
of scholars with their scalpels and surgical lamps strapped
to foreheads, carrying syringes,  
and software
                     of a sacred canon:   
                                                   each bears
an emblem, each are elite schools of manner
on mock-parchment
in relativities without recourse.
                                                   If they were just able
to call down to us
and see through our eyes, vaulted beings  
of a personal light: someone with qualities, with a readiness 
and divinity that shapes our ends:  
                                                       let's just say
winged flesh and heart  
of an unchained ghost receding in black and red tones,
and hard to avoid feeling however abstract
the requirements.
                            On either side our selves float well-contained  
in totem-like animal-men scribblings,
and raw polyphony of early music going down  
to a single beat, but echoing,
                                                        in dull approval
of scandal
and pan-sexual figures speaking the language of the night:
monochrome still-lives with thin strips of hair
stretched in midnight lines:
                                             pans, fauns, imps,
and tritons, silhouetted against the disc of the moon,
and record the world for height,
in the ceaseless thrust
of digital whirls to be the stale elixir and call friends
with cell phone to augur,
                                         and die nightly
looking spent
in an embroidery of traffic. But the sublime voice,
the voice of dream
                                travels even more quickly. It is a preserved
energy ever able to give energy off, an intimation
nearly immortal in the residue
of old prefixes,
                          between worlds that collect in the great
meditation of the transparent eyeball at once pineal and prophetic,
limbs covered with eyes and seeing in all places at once
the undiscovered country 
                                         buried under layers
of fashion: at times smoky, rust-red
or star-covered like the coat of a poet  
that now guides the blessed rage
                                                     to order 
                                                                   our clarity
and remain baffled, and look elsewhere,
where yesterday begins to look like now  
and tallies the results.
                                                         it's what defines us,
a new eponym for blessings that endow us all with the intimate
knowledge of the life, death, and life again, of god,
and self and new self as unfettered consumer
consuming choices and alibis
                                                for criminal utopia,
transsexual, athletic heirs of history
and the end of time.
                                 Today our lives are engineered,
and traffic in daily revivals
                                            that claim
that we are godlings of wealth,  
grow the economy in flight from the industrial age.
Nevertheless, we are equally wary
                                                       of prophets of doom
as messiahs of hope,
fleeing from the edge on the cybernetic  
wings of Icarus,
                           who waxes a unity approached divided with black
flames, before losing face to the latest craze
of a second coming by email
and spreading megabytes   
                                         through empty spaces
of the Internet.
                         We're unable to feel the shift of facts,
betrayed by citations of joy's indestructible power,
                                                                                   to dream
the illusionary stillness of a sacred self,
intensifying the alertness,
                                          the gravity and labor
of the literal
as fragile palladia,
                              worshipped by absentee ballot, and collecting
a human dread of the holy absent.
                                                        A stare
is aimed like a rifle, is hypnotic  
and impatient:
                        include us in your meaning for we are lonely
and would like the American Empire to be free of cracks,
that chaos and the truly random preempt vacuity,
accepting our democracy by default,
                                                           singing songs  
of rude pathos,
mixing flesh tones with native rants of extinction
that are outlawed, post-legal, to return,  
once again, a few steps ahead
                                                 of our latest foe.
It will be lovely someday                     
to move to an innocence, to the limits of our hearts
as characters from the Edenic bestiary,
images of The Tree of Life,
a thin spark on the way to burning out, quarantined  
from the curricula of influence
                                                  that sculpts
its devotees in marble
and pays for upkeep. We can't keep visions selective enough,
haunted by an immemorial unity
that is our current moment,
                                             to study the nostalgia's
in folklore and migrant songs
that summon clean verbal burning
                                                        to birth the unborn gods
and fashion the poetic protocol  
of a human life.
                          Everywhere the scramble for power,
the singularity that is promised
above the undistinguished mass: it's a quarter turn for a quarter's
worth of fame, swarming with political cameos
and a voyeurism that turns on the scapegoat
and melts him with blame.
                                            Instead, say we save the eye-writers,
polyglots who draft the ancestral drama, and who misread,  
reverse, slip out of their skins, and humble us
with horrible splendor.
                                                            we come together,
belong to a name that insures
our crisis,
frontiers of the great collective birth-right,
                                                                     and point
to the philosopher's stone as a handout
for the lazy among us who script our leisure on cardboard  
signs, and know that light rays end in human hands                     
asking for a buck, to work for food, rapture,
the signal fading
                            in their hollow eyes:
                                                              the eyes of god,
or eyesores, eyewash, rolling eyes,
eyewitness, cross-eyed and eyebright to the third eye,
beyond sight.
                       It's an awakened inwardness of a rare nudity
that completes us, vanishing in the holy hush
of a green traffic light.
                                     Let us be sure this time
that we breathe the difference,
that one idea organizes a life,
                                                decoding the mysticism
of voice mail, and dumbly pent
in near roadrage, over-invested devotees  
of advertisement who are too busy to truly contain the currents
of universal being that pass for the gas
                                                              of processed
          So we tell ourselves that the ends
justify the means, the ends of time in the fractals
of a global scale, to be televised daily
                                                             till we warp,
bend, plunge into dark centers
that bloom in other places, but start here
absolutely, or on whatever adverb suits us.
                                                                      The generations
name their decade's incendiary,
or radiant, or bland: the rifts between fill the days
with a white noise which distracts us
from living lives beyond age,  
                                                and never being
at rest, senselessly repeating
our lack of time in orgies of chatter,
the distances of love,
in slogans, fads, starved truths, to the hoopla cheers
of winning the race to the red light.
                                                          The losers
always have the next time,
the luminous body of nevermore,  
cluttered full with strategy and want.  
                                                            The ceremonial  
gravity of the poem
faces its own absurdity, its throng of eyes
which see the unmendably integral
in tribes of stanzas
                               that never stop: we never stop,
we phantoms  
of immediacy, bent on ends,
as if ends were a rune-word or a sacred talisman
of our closure
closing everyday, every instant defined  
and stashed away like a family bible,
                                                            but not a bible
left unread in its stale distance and dust.
It's rather the hyperreal that we seek,
                                                            the unified arrival  
of endless human life, and more life
after that, until we tell ourselves  
that our hearts are with the deep things
that tick in secret
and surface to speak.
                                   It will be like this that we'll continue
tallying our hearts like unpaid bills,
and writing checks
to agencies from the abyss. It will  
                                                       be like this
that we'll celebrate
the condition we are in,
                                       that surge
of speed and verticality,
of an excess that verges on abandon,
                                                            where facts
are the true stimulants  
and agreement is violent
                                         in a monotony of wide open
             or cramped with eyes and ears  
on the thin walls of a thin street
with the first-person music of our grammar
in communities of the first-person,
when we, you, I, they and me, all refer back
to the movement of I,
                                    in the perfect  
wash of differences
that seem the advent of a necessary coming.
                                                                        We pass
one another in the street without looking
and miss the lengths of history
we each carry in our faces.
                                            It's dull as Monday
and twice as tragic, but we're content
in the stress and pace  
of soundbites that define our days
as never the same thing for the quick desires of the brain.
So let the centuries collapse
                                             like planks
in a burning building, we don't mind the patronymic
and pitiless erosion of words. We have become
the magician's dummy, the golem,  
holy monster, and have fallen through a trap door
and landed in the prophylactic whiteness
                                                                  of a silicon city,
drooling with plans
and pseudo-Grecian smile.
we say, to the spectral place 
of initiation, we are ready to work the feedback
loop and rise through the politics of our profession.
A crowd gathers  
                          to question the source  
of these condiments of wit,
this naively kitsch sense of everyone
building worlds with words,
                                              in the abridged versions of profit
and loss,
               finds us on our knees
                                                  compiling lists
of everything
to then bypass a tensely vital
and of a calm yet active
so remote
                that we wonder how we will ever know
that sacred kernel of truth
that weaves  
                   and cleaves and slants in sweeps
of man-making words, 
                                     in mid-air,
                                                       then dips and pivots
in the sun,
in the murmur of leaves,
in insect-hum, oak and eucalyptus attached to clouds
like the organic debris of a climate
in words,
                the historically late champion alone,
in the dark,
                   ready to speak
that our refuge
                        lies elsewhere,
                                                yet here,
and then we have to look.
For now a template in fogland,
                                                  cerulean and grand,
vertigo wide,
to sing ourselves between extremes in pure a cappella
for the evaporation of thought through  
the empty, brutal, spaces of bridges,
                                                           and view
the silvery-gray iron that works
                                                   its scant wavering rhythm
back, even after the center's gone,
lost, sunken from sight
                                      and exposing our sense of things  
exactly as they are,
as what they are changes,
and remains the same,
                                     is hidden
and is strong in the midday sun.
                                                   So that's life then,
a place created by our not having arrived yet,
to utter the names that belong there:
                                                           then again
no names can deflect
the  flight of pain toward delight,  
and vice versa.
                         It's all good,
                                              we tell ourselves,
and avoid the ellipses
that leaves us out,
                             down the quarried light
of lullaby-rill,
to declare a common reality
past declaration and hint
                                        for the latest sublime.
                    To myths then, of an irregular
earth, we say
cracking from too much fullness, 
from where we say that the universe lies within,
before birth,
after death,
                   counting the soul,
the skilled companion of the deeper self,
that we are the poor ruin,
                                         the raw hope
and theomorphic art
of a strangely human god,
                                           beyond and prior to god,
but not god nor god-like,
left unending in the songs
that billions of people of sing,
                                                 complete in ourselves,
reader and writer
in the sacred bridal chamber,
sharing the intimate liquids of ink,
the umbilicus that threads
each one of us
                        to the primal body
and learns to breathe.
                                   So that's meaning then,
learning to breathe
and daring to care and serve the endorphins of an awakened
inwardness, and continuing to see
the West, the East,
blinking North, blinking South.
                                                    One need barely move.
We're reaching the core  
of the psyche, pulling repression
to the surface, distancing ourselves
                                                         from the new
One need barely listen.  
What's that we say?  
We believe it this time. Our ears are caverns
reaching to the roots of spirit,
and spirit is the last hope.
We're ready to step between
                                               the ciphers,
the different accounts of our lives,
to see if they do, after all, add up
to something
                      of which we are part.
                                                         Stay with us.
And we stay to listen to someone
who is not us for once.
We tell ourselves that we're not late,
that it will work out,
                                  that the world is open
and waiting for us.
We see it better now with our ears.




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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