Photography & Film

New York American Spell, 2001

I / omen

What was going on in the New York American
Black/red/green helmeted neon night?
The elevator door was closing behind us, we were the ones

Plunging floor after floor after floor after floor
To the abyss — but it was someone else’ s face
Staring from the screen out at us, someone else’ s face

Saying something flashing from the teleprompter:
Though what the face said was meant to reassure,
Down in the abyss the footage kept playing,

Beginning with 1914

Since it always begins
in the unlikeliest place
we start in an obsolete country
on no current map. The camera
glides over flower beds,
for this is a southern climate.
We focus on medals, a horse,
on a white uniform,
for this is June. The young man
waves to the people lining the road,
he lifts a child, he catches
a rose from a wrinkled woman
in a blue kerchief. Then we hear shots
and close in on a casket
draped in the Austrian flag.
Thirty-one days torn off a calendar.

The Last Son of China

.......................    hello hello hello   ...    Weiwei   ...    where have you been?   ...    I see you in dreams   ...    bleeding   ...    in the darkness of the sun   ...    81 spots in the flame   ...    each a nightmare one cannot wake up from   ...    Weiwei   ...    the last son   ...    you told me as we said goodbye   ...    your last night on the Lower East Side   ...    未未   ...    the last child of your Mother and Father   ...    born in the labor camp   ...    exiled from Beijing to the far desert   ...    watching your Father clean public latrines for singing the truth  

Steady Digression to a Fixed Point

A rose can’ t change the world. It can only open or close.

A rose drives the world like an enormous gear.

It pushes a schooner east of Borneo.

When a body has been rearranged, it is held together with a rose.

A rose is a weapon, a guide, a compass.

It shatters the glass to explain a spilled blue shore. This is how we know we are in the presence of tragedy.

You shouldn’ t have. You couldn’ t have. You did. You are.

We piece together an aftermath.

Hollywood & God

If only God would save me,
I would know how to hurt you.

If only God would save me,
I would know who to sell my soul to.

Anything is an autobiography,
but this is a conversation —

William Burroughs insisted
literature lagged 50 years behind painting,

thinking no doubt about abstraction, collage,
fragmentation, his cut-ups.

But whatever that meant (why always 50 years?), or however
he presumed to rile other writers,

poetry probably does lag behind any credible media theory about it —

Handwritten Preface to Reverse the Book

1 Reverse the book in duration. What does that mean? I am writing to you. These notes now when it’ s too late.
2 If the cyborg you read about in bookstores is an immigrant from Mexico crossing into the U. S. beneath a floodlit court, then mine is a Punjabi-British hitchhiker on a JI visa. This is tunneling as seen from a satellite — sort of concave warp in the dirt of the line.

Bridge & Swimmer

Our eye goes past the hieroglyphic tree to the swimmer
carving a wake in the water. And almost to the railroad bridge
from which the swimmer might have dived. Then, as though
come to the end of its tether,
our gaze returns, pulling toward the blemish
on the surface of the print. An L-shaped chemical dribble,
it sabotages the scene’ s transparence
and siphons off its easy appeal.

At the same time, the blemish
joins together the realms
of seer and swimmer
in our experience of plunging
into and out of the image.

Black Swan

After the second conference, I would be cast in the role of a young dancer with a prestigious New York City ballet company. I would be cast in the role of the mother, a former dancer now amateur artist, whose career ended at 28 when she became pregnant. I would be cast in the role of the exotic beauty who is more in touch with her sensuality. I would be cast in the role of the director, a cruel and demanding genius who would sleep with the ingenue. I would be cast in the role of someone selected to compete for the part alongside several other dancers.