The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 18-JAN 19

All Issues
DEC 18-JAN 19 Issue


The Particulars Surrendered

Conspiracy theories in the Rose Garden proclaim

The National Day of Prayer. Jesus Christ, what liberating

Good news do you have in mind? The exalted egotism

Of one’s good conscience? Loopholes in rent laws?

Extracting a confession rendered impotent more an act of

Torture gone awry in the rocky casserole of a loose thread?

Hypocrisy and cynicism speak for God. That is why I love

Education. I belong to that history. All the things that stick

To skin: hospitality, tolerance, and respect for others. Friendship.

A language in which every letter of the alphabet has to be

Profoundly human. The charitable tax status denominational

Hierarchy everywhere an arrangement and expression of

Paralysis decisive and tilted in all of its melty autosurveillance.

When will our butler walk on water? Will an indexical

Reversal of supplement never reach the cell tower? When

Will Detroit cut off water for millions after penetrating

Within the human body its repugnance and polemic? Or (aren’t

We already there?) shelter the most dastardly system of

Inequity that ever disgraced a bag of mulch accused of pedo-

Philia in the U.S. Senate. Unhampered void, heart rate,

Respiratory rate, hormonal comportment, sin. Involuntary

Flows through the body. Samaritan's Purse and Liberty

University land surveyor locals pull and push the Marquis

de Sade. Indiana issues travel warnings urging their residents

To get vaccinated for Hepatitis A before traveling to

Unapologetic Michigan. Who are you going to believe?

Billy Strayhorn? Duke Ellington? We enter a mysterious

Principality. Particulars surrender to an eternally

Determined promise.




Structural Hint of Conflict

Small ideas cannot express the sorrow. The pistachio ice cream,

After a month, began to ring persistently. Political space

Can now no longer be gauged by a proletarian representation

Of contemplation. Surely, being professional about morality,

With their mouths full of food, poets replete with grammar and spelling

Errors maintain their balance on irregular shards. The population

Has no weapons and are quite helpless. They’re not going to listen

To anything I say. However, sitting on a powder tin keg, a lit

Cigarette in hand dangling dangerously close to the fuse,

I cling to vague promises from well-intentioned but ineffectual

Friends. There is no ashtray in sight. It has taken the wrong

Direction and is now twelve hours’ journey away, and every morning

The powder keg suddenly reappears beneath my ass. A lot of

Systems are designed to serve some central kind of mob scheme

Rather than the person seated on the keg. The old arguments

Endlessly trot in deference to public consensus to die for God and

Country above the dark hollow about to suffocate on the tarmac

You don’t see. My eyes have become disproportionately large.

How to imagine a transparency that leaves so much out it moves in our

Sleep to twitter handles accused of pimping power destroyed

In its proximity to whatever it links to? Such is not the case if

You are attached to the material nature of this world. This world

Is the beginning of a long absence. It follows that the surrounding

Fires have no off-camera existence. Any discrepancy is ultimately

The poem’s fault, and sometimes the words to describe it

Have to catch up. The structural hints of our bodies are more

Discriminating than our minds. What the ingredients want explode

In the middle. In an artificial omniscience the precipitous atmosphere

Of global citizens begins to bark. It isn’t funny.



Andrew Levy

Andrew Levy is the author most recently of Artifice in the Calm Damages (Chax Press), Don’t Forget to Breathe (Chax Press), and Nothing Is In Here (EOAGH Books). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous American and international anthologies, most recently, An Anthology of 60 Contemporary American Poets (Zasterle, Spain, 2017). Levy’s writing works on the intersections of class & the ecology of commerce, experimental music & media convergence, and the technologizing of freedom.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 18-JAN 19

All Issues