from TOURNAMENT

It’s the oldest deus
ex machina in showbiz
The doomed wartime romance
It’s the peacetime muse
of embattled realists
but waking life’s the only type when
Living in an arrow factory
Here’s where you discover you
Are being lied to from all sides
Even your own the story
Illustrates the image
The dim frottage of myth
Was thought to demystify

Like slighted deities
Any old edict to restructure
And unmute the right to what
Is real
So dancing is done
Without looking
To save embarrassment
smears the rhythm of things

War is coming
Forget the danger of losing contests
Shore up your convictions
At the very least list them

Slaves can’t have friends
And can’t make promises
Cruelty evades explanation and
So uncertainty taints the property relation
Oh my nourishment is not
As the poster portrays it
Just rectified subroutines of labor
rivals for low cost goods

The careless versatility of sermonic drool
To fill crevasses in a slippery slope
Facts have their adversaries
Until the least hated wisdom wins

Now that war is coming
Things will be exactly as they seem

A love triangle ended in a suicide pact
Revealed as such only once we two
Accomplished grieving announcing
That nothing’s finished these two
Conspired against me against the trio
Betrayal and devotion I must let
Them realize their pact otherwise
I betray them twice this is nothing
To do with natural causes such as love
This is nothing to do with me it’s America
Its sorts of metaphysical computational solace
But this goes badly too the allegory suffers
The suffering is real

The three of us were a network of thieves
We had grieved together
Fondled each other
Puzzled through our disputes
In unlit basements
Grandiose meadows
City crowds
And institutional corridors
We were impassioned thespians
Autonomic splendors

Now who has stolen from whom
Is the question
Will I live last
A caption

Now that I am in confidence
I must let love die as promised
A still untested premise is
as good as wishful thinking
And melancholia always smarts less
when brazen mischief is in play

I blink to veil the witness
Inside everything the outside
To the conspiracy they call personality

Nature cooperates with saints
Nature comes whole
It’s a martyring or a buddy flick

“As far as I am concerned, it’s clear to me that if nature, needing to restore equilibrium, attacked me, at no point while defending myself and fighting for my life, as any animal would do, would my capacity to reason allow me to stop to think that, in all fairness, losing the battle would be the right thing to do.” That’s what Chantal Maillard said.

 

I know full well but can’t explain
The world is disinterested
in the words I have for it
Language being the fictional objective
Of a real contest
Larry Eigner said, “give a dog a name / he can’t use / masculine perhaps”

I mustn’t interfere
There are solemn and strenuous
Chores I could only botch

I’m glad I was told

Confessions always come after making love
That’s why silence is unbearable, something
Must be said without delay

Now if they survive
We might have never loved
In my love triangle there is just one
But several alter egos
Pinioning dumb dreams to the results of reason
We might not have loved anyone

I don’t need a lexicon
I need data
The data are shared
Nothing is lost
No one has it
No one ever did

My entitlements and among them “love”
Can’t tell now between wind, rain, the fan inside the machine,
Or a sigh from my parched stomach

In the coming war everyone’s a kleptocrat
The question of why is moot the war does not decide
The enemy arrives from all directions
Every moment another below norm terror
Fatal if convincing only
Episodic despairs lend integrity
To unbordered moments of the weather

From here I can pose both
The questions and their tangy posture
the vertigo of perfect hostility
The enumeration of the same
Faces

Fondly digitating in the aforementioned
Unlit basement the inevitable
needs no hastening

I cannot help in any way that I should have known
And now I do

Eggish, ovoid, drooping out of sync with the daylight
The night’s bleached scrim knotted for escape
I clutch and climb down hugging and think
I may be choking on the drawstring
But I used to be leashed

 

 


[Patrick Durgin is the author of PQRS: A Poets Theater Script and a collaboration with Jen Hofer entitled The Route. More recent work appears in Chicago ReviewEmergency IndexPoetry, and Tripwire. Durgin translated Miyo Vestrini's French Unpublished Poems & Facsimile 1958-1960 and edited Hannah Weiner's Open House. He teaches Art History, Literature, Visual & Critical Studies, and Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.]

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