by: Matt Alexander1
These oracular poems by Matt Alexander are of the current moment, and also of the moment after that. “…Bubbling up like panic/ attacks” they leap off the page in fits and starts as they rapid-fire report on the loss of the center, of a narrative that tells our story back to us in a way that still makes some kind of sense: “…Above the parking garage across the Anthropocene, nostalgia blooms.”
Lullaby Fragments and Plans for the Future
The crackling snow falls like ash from the television
left on like a lullaby. Earlier, Diagnosis Murder, but now
the signal has been lost. Like a mobile above the bed with planes,
flying elephants, generally airborne things, I leave it on
in the hopes that I’ll be ambitious enough to stay awake forever
or at least never die; something to aspire to
now that outer space and heaven have both been proven
false. Why would we let the people who live the least
tell us what it is to live? By the way,
I arranged to have my burial at sea,
like my father, so as not to be bothered.
By the sea, please get your idea of masculinity
off of my behalf. Drowning in sadness
is the second most painful way to die. Second
only to drowning in feminized water.
Hint: it’s all of it.
Bathing in happiness is great,
but when you stay in too long
Stagnating in the grime, the whale poop,
your fingers inevitably shampoo themselves
into a French manicure, and you die
in the third most painful way. Think
of the unhappy families
surrounding you, bubbling up like panic
attacks, each unique and Tsar-like. The bloodline
is as inescapable as a deadline. Lines
are meant to be crossed except for the cases
where that is impossible
as in the blood and dead varieties.
Do you want to buy back in?
Some people have that option.
To be trade dealt in more than once.
A partnership across the ocean shifts demand curves,
but in what direction? And can we quantify
the effects’ full extent? Yes, but we would be lying.
Our model is incomplete. Our model has not
yet been granted a GED. Remember, don’t
do what your enemy wants you to. Listen
to your mother, if she’s endorsed by the Earth Institute
or Heritage Foundation. Like pre-existing conditions,
disagreements won’t be treated
kindly. I read the symptoms in my pretentious poetry voice.
Sing the contraindications in my sultry chanteuse.
Pass wind in my prim plutocrat’s coiffure.
Let the wrong candidate win
because the American people don’t deserve someone as earnestly good as Batman.
Take off my sequined dress for him, please.
Lower my eyelids to indicate preparedness.
Gesture towards the stock of bottled water, canned foods, and automatic
weapons, cartridges both indigenously Nintendo and otherwise.
Ben Lerner says ‘The smugness masks a higher sadness.’
But I’d like to correct the spoonerism
solecism he committed, presumably unknowingly.
What he meant to say was that ‘the sadness
masks a higher smugness.’ From this stipulation we can deduce
a relationship between sad- and smug-ness, as well as a purported
temporal sequencing: the higher smugness, which rests just above
the sadness, gives rise to an even higher sadness, but the height
of this sadness
is so great so as to reside outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Of course, soon to be denuded as the absolute spatial indicators
we have employed hitherto are in fact predicated on the highly local obtaining
of an atmosphere of an indisputable reference point, i.e. the ground, i.e. an ecosystem
amenable to listening, hope; one of the two, while in outer space we lack
any such fixed system of nurture or nature or
referent, so up and down, higher and lower no longer obtain, like a unified theory
of compromise. Despite this, we can still appeal to the higher court
of metaphorical valence of the word ‘higher;’
When society collapses we will hole up
such a meaning suffices here,
on high-ish ground, high enough, three stories with plenty of booze to pass
out the rationed days. The stories being the trilogy of life, purgatory,
and a message from our sponsors. Which will sustain us
like a sonata’s final piano chord
played by a sad oboe. A sustained elegiac fourth
with added major seventh to connote all life’s loss
and gratitude. Above the parking garage across the Anthropocene, nostalgia blooms
like a tulip and dies within a week,
not from parental neglect or radiative forcing
or crippling depression with a shotgun approach,
but because that is just what happens with tulips.
The Perils of Time Travel
Travelled through grand time canyons,
recumbent as a sitting president in the
neural pathways of my Hippocampus.
Avoided the places where usually I fall
into pits, inaugurating the tyranny of a nostalgia
-obsessed sea monster. Electrical buzz of
your name tickled the roof of my mouth:
Kraken liquor. Great commercials
that my fifth pair of Apple earbuds in six weeks
could plug into my Stars-struck head.
‘Look up,’ Torq said. The jury was still out,
though, on those oughts indie-rock references,
and four out of five doctors recommend
against such so-called ‘memories,’
claiming they can be detrimental to one’s health,
with daily abuse even contributing, in some cases,
But I told you not to go back there.
The purchase of a kiwi is an act of intrepid defiance like the fifth gospel
according to Gallimimus. A vote with your conscience, dollar
is a vote for scrotal shenanigans, dick pics of wrinkled fruit and many, many pits.
Desiccating like a western tumbleweed’s carcass, the soundtrack
to ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ haunts our discourse like a friendly ghost.
A holy one we will pay homage to as lip service if not heavy tithing
haunts our dying discourse, drying discourse up like small farmers’
crops and profits like a sandy throat in Phoenix, a sand-coated goat at Coachella.
Scuttling a newborn’s trust fund into a boot-legged ticket to Burning Man, a precious
commodity. Investing in the future by splurging on the present,
preferring to save those heavenly taxes for a later date and stave off life’s other ‘inevitability.’
‘It need not be so,’ the Koch brothers whispered to me as I tucked them in to bed
in their onesie dino PJs. ‘It need not be so’ I repeated back to them, apropos of nothing.
He’s a big baby, Charles is,
but so cute. Gucci
Gucci goo is the best type
of goo, imbued
as it is with ambition,
irreverence, the glue
of social fabric,
the antipodal island
notion of having the cake
both ways, the idea
one can truly fester or stew
Miles’ bitches homebrew.
‘I want to win,’ I thought, there’s nothing wrong with rubber cement
but it’s not for me, projecting into their face spaces,
the brothers’ Koch bookended night stands filled with Adam Smith,
Keynesian tomes, Malthusian diatribes, ‘Goodnight Moon.’ But the Moon shall
live on after the land becomes friable, when the peat and humus fry
away in the hot scalding oil, and the beach becomes a sea-salted crumble of pita chips.
But when has the universe, ever-cold and ever-indifferent, or our ever-loving, forgiving God,
bearded, ever-robed, somewhat trustworthy, a Clinton-esque figure if ever-there was one,
ever-given a fuck about wants? Untuck your foreskins, boys,
for the final rain will come down in sheets of melted ice, first to Run for a Cure
(as a PR move), then the Ice Bucket Challenge,
and finally to drown us in its Luke-warmth.
Matt Alexander is a scientist and writer in Philadelphia. When struck by insight, he shouts “Bazinga!” not “Eureka!”- although he has nothing against Archimedes and is in fact himself an avid bath-taker. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Maudlin House, After the Pause, and Five2One Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @thenamesmatta.
- Header art by the incredibly talented and environmentally conscious artist Fabrice Monteiro. [↩]