The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2014

All Issues
SEPT 2014 Issue




Jacques Rancière writes ‘we

cannot identify ourselves with

their feelings’     a thought

that expands into this apologetic

for the evening’s seeming

disorder the reach of it stunted

laughably impressionistic as Forest

Whitaker’s empath role

in SPECIES it’s the first real snow

of the year & I’m laying on my bed

stoned listening to Blood Orange

wrapped in the white batting that’s

escaped thru holes in my comforter

the contrast of warmth & color

suggestive I’m thinking about

the commercial failure of yr work

laid against the often predatory

ideals of art critique their foundation

in a lowkey quest for tension

that glitch between

experience & its warped reflection

how it squares with our actual

connectivity & the bare

comfort it affords so it got

to the point where staging

yr death became

the most efficacious way

to touch something warm teasing

out a space between celebration

& solemn ritual asleep in that dip

in the graph of our comfort levels

a certain light disconnected

from cause & then how the muscle

memory takes over comedy

& religion in trompe-l'œil

a sacred mystery profaned



Smith asks “Could art be useful

…thousands of artists have NOT

pondered & dreamed of

such a thing, yet art must not be

used as another elaborate means

of fleeing from thinking’ & just now

on Pitchfork I read that Dev Hynes lost

his dog & apartment to a massive fire

in Brooklyn last night & shamed

my thoughts immediately fall back

to this struggle in belief the efficacy

of creative work positioned

as if it’s really an elusive cipher

for something physical & lasting

we expect to find within it something

beyond the immediate concerns

of material life the work I mean

the things we read

that the music & drugs can be

so illuminating for the moment

we choose to extend outward

a platform securely fixed high above

us but partially obscured R. Kelly

performing BUMP N’ GRIND

in front of a curtain

hiding Daft Punk’s stage set

a pink beam ascending

from Karnac or like a ubiquitous

little zine that fades completely

away as this poem where all

sensory impressions cast off

on separate trajectories collide

into a year end list aimed at totality

capped by the title


A HOLOGRAM? a ghost of

something to triangulate

our positions on earth

one that seems almost real








when high enough

everything joins

the continuum

the Paris

Commune becomes

Antony's Alexandria

LA plays New York

in Erika Beckman's



the workweek begins

we become more erratic


the dance falls apart

into some preemptive

dotage once

we were

inside each other

like one wild

heretic star



in the crash

broken up

into dominance

& passivity

according to taste

legs guiding eyes

hands guiding the legs

& waists their

names symbolic tho


each retaining a germ

of its origin

growing inside


of the difference

& want


stuck in a moment of

initiation to wage work

Tom Ripley

in the addiction

yet the memory remains


a viral arabesque

rotating Intro

it seems familiar today

even late-

pop capital



Phoenix building

arpeggiated steps of synth

to a penthouse


as a ziggurat

of Cool Whip

and we ascend

fantasy beyond the check

Oh fuck!

a job can break your heart








been rollin’ for a little bit blissed out in the Integratron or airglow caught in the street where the subtle depth of NO ORDINARY LOVE polarizes the looks we exchange above the crowd strings of tiny Christmas lights form snowflakes wreathed down the boulevard their near obsolescence briefly shaken from the flint of a nondescript winter evening a shot of cognac thru the air nothing’s lost in the warm intoxication that grows with dreams of bathwater jasmine oil torch songs an aural extension of firm bare skin arched over porcelain a tightness in the musculature of thought the earnestly mouthed singalongs trailing lines of condensed breath like something to erase the vague property between to scrape all the vitals clean away & place them in storage so we can freely ascend tethered to a line of experiences that’s passed through the bass of a turquoise Civic our now abstracted remainders sintered to a line of powder across the woodgrain tableau primed to reenter the bloodstream a coronation presided over by the spirit of her voice’s assurance lifted into film & bearing witness beneath it our gaze triangulates on a prize & the heat rises & caught staring we’re implicated with a sort of possession of desire or livelihood inextricably linked to another body in focus our timeless connections hardened by necessity in the moment indicating the false value we cloth them with as if a mandate from a higher love some silver lining that deigns to part & release bent channels of color that we open our mouths to take inside then the part where Frank breaks history down in ten minutes the sky rolls back and I’m driving north on I-84 with Sarah & Nick & Joseph & Rachel & the light’s dimming at the horizon timed as if to perfectly match the almost indiscernible pulse of drums & her voice fading out as if to suggest the universal promise of forever’s natural half-life & Frank is coming out online with a memorial to the first love he shared with a man one summer in New Orleans now unrequited lost like a model for how we think about permanence & what we leave behind to help us remember & Paul is painting the face of God on watches & soft impressionistic blizzards as his very cells begin to turn against him & Kathy is drawing new maps on the blank pages at the end of the book as a legacy for those who might follow & the building is getting higher now & we can feel the first words coming & we look to myth like Dan Savage for the intimate mechanics of the day to day & Rooney is being erased by the maudlin existential romances of Spike Jonze & his speculative social media platforms breed a phalanx of found mirror pix perfect little squares for decoding body language that overrun my server & Patrick loses the Oscar & Tom is offering up the breadth of his love as a sacrifice to luxury & Keith is out with the breakers chasing transcendence the sands piling it upward to form a 3D blueprint for body work & choreography approaches its limit & then the market catches on & the potence is drained by ubiquity & Forest escapes the purgatory of BATTLEFIELD EARTH under the guise of Idi Amin & Louise pulls the Event Horizon back from the brink of an extradimensional abyss to prevent the spread of a voracious shadow oneism tho even in her victory we can still see it everywhere dressed in uniforms too expensive to afford & tho casting increasingly complementary hues it remains no less divisive & Amillion is written out of YOU, ME, HIM AND HER during the live performance on FADE TO BLACK but still insists no love lost tho even a cursory search of her name more immediately yields Wanye’s A MILLI & while Phoenix plays backup to R. Kelly’s triumphant climax at Coachella the prescription drugs kick in & their TRYING TO BE COOL mashup holds on to its number one position at the solar disco to be trumped only by the nocturnal bacchanal of Daft Punk & Pharrell & exactly one month ago Dev lost everything in a fire & his latest message from L.A. reads ‘ignant is bliss’ & he immediately retracts his ill-conceived profile from the Guardian because there is no real sense of where this is all going only the most tenuous hold onto the feeling of how others take these parts of us inside & assimilate & carry on in something we cannot even hope to mean maybe something that can only be seen by the naked eye from like outer space


Jamie Townsend

JAMIE TOWNSEND is a conspiracy theorist for Elderly, an emergent hub of ebullience and disgust. He is author of several chapbooks, most recently PROPOSITIONS (Mondo Bummer, 2014), as well as the forthcoming lp SHADE (Elis Press, 2014).


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2014

All Issues