Those old truths again? You harp on so. Like those old poems, before we invented language. This is not the place to store anything. No one is coming back here. Haven’t you read Heraclitus?

So, on a floating wreck, an old couple fret and carp | from the remaining spars hang the bodies of dead angels.

In a beauty parlour, a mathematical genius idly turns the pages of a fashion magazine. She can do things in her head we do not know exist. There is very little elegance in prose these days, there’s no demand. Young people still fall in love, though, or think they do.

So, in an Arctic base, the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse fuck and bicker, emote or introvert. It is the very small things she remembers, and by remembering, mourns. Cal’s fresh young skin, the brilliance of his eyes as he watches a ladybird trickle up his forearm: all the time in the meadows.

These old tricks again? Did you think it was some cosmic law held the stars in place, inertia, mass and gravity? Or your lust? Your make of deity? Not at all: it is money. Money will keep these stars shining. Money will facilitate the course of your education, money streamline the structure of your divorce, money dictate the grain of your thoughts, the degrees of their roughness or altitude, if they have Nietzsche.

So, the self-help guru, holed up in a neon bunker, like a miniature Las Vegas. The crimewave makes them feel nostalgic, as if analogous to student riots in the 60s or their first hesitant teenage sexual experience.

You are born in poverty, and you will die in poverty, living in poverty through the years between. Your poverty is important to us: we understand your efforts in a scheme where it is your place to stay poor. We intend to manage your poverty as best we can. We value your poverty. An advisor will answer your call as soon as one becomes available. In the meantime — and it may be a long time — have you considered alternative ways to approach your poverty? Given that in this world you will never be anything other than poor, wouldn’t it be helpful if we could all, all of us together, re-think poverty? Is poverty actually a bad place to live? Is it really a trap? Poverty is your address, and, yes, by the very nature of your situation, you won’t be travelling far from here — but is it really so much better by the private pools, the outdoor jacuzzis in the shadows of palms? The rich also suffer. Suffer differently, no doubt, but suffer. Is suffering so bad? An early, avoidable death, so bad? A long, difficult demise, so bad?

So, in a student bar, two post-docs duel martinis and mimic nightingales.

I was listening to the sound of revolution, then the commercials came on | I was no longer in Ratcliffe Highway.

Those old lies again? Do you not understand, our end is distraction, now? We do not care for your society. Even if your illusion was just, even if your solution plausible, do you think we have the time to sacrifice our trivial oil-tanker for your solemn hazelnut? We do not! The outcome of revolution is falling off the edge of a page, and sleep will solve most problems | starting with mine. Life is not staying round to care: life is the next plane. Death is caring. Death is staying put and digging in and hanging on. Effervescence is a morality. So… effervesce.

Take one part of sincerity, dilute with two parts of irony, add two parts of time, add three nights of loneliness in an empty motel, the dull sound of Swedish shotguns, not heard for months, suicides in sleek forest lodges, the tramp of detectives through saint-kissed snow, find your way to the new truths | thus.

So, in a podcast on the future, always be wary of anything that smacks of old men discussing old times, their rank nostalgia, as if it could be better, round the fireplace in 1939, for example.

I was listening to the music of compliance, then the commercials came on | I was young and free, my guns fully loaded.

When you have finished building the mountains, we will not notice them: cities are the new black | and, besides, I have Nietzsche.

 


from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, October 2013)

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