You have reminded me I am not a robot. Thank you
For your zealotry, your metal-American luridness,
Without which this pulpit is as the ransacked sarcophagus
Rotting swiftly in the modern light. I am your architect
Tonight. The infrastructure of our humans wanes,
But not the pleasures you’ll find flasked
Beneath your seats—drink up. Dream up another coast
While my words usher in one bald hallucination
. Let us begin by actualizing fears:
Insistent are we the bogeyman is real. (The moneyman
Will take your gift afore the exit; lest you forget,
I remind). Tsunamis crest with every family,
Nuclear or god-despised, playing in the leaf-strewn yard,
Studies show. Efforts to improve have been, in a word,
Threnodic. Enough has not been to done to curb the appetites
Of pets—the markets shudder like the loins of Leda,
Loosening at this index. Gyres later, bails left out
To dry, this nation’s horticulture, prospect of thin
Domesticates may be preserved—but we need gyres.
I have gyres. I am one walking gyre. I bleed gyres
Like I bleed red, white, and blues jazz on iTunes.
I am one of you.
. I proceed to Caravaggio: more please.
I will bring back High Renaissance aesthetics in the form
Of free internet for all—to recover copacetic senses
In this economy so buried in the guideless Arizona desert
Only underground officials glimpse its gunmetal silo
Is my sole mission. I am not your uncle’s politician.
I am your uncle gifting shit Christmas presents
To his foes. What does this have to do with art, you ask?
I’m glad you did: keep asking. Keep telling me I can’t.
I will. I’ll hang this once-woven tapestry in the MET again,
Yet not before you crown me keeper of the codes.
Not one wink before. I’ll be your servant and your king,
Your state-appointed portrait drawer.
. . Hypocrisy
At tea-time I won’t tolerate. We must do better
When we speak of nothings, must be truer and less vile.
I will stipulate that lovers be accountable to words,
Mere words, and vie with time to stare with no intent.
Imagine Freedom as the medium through which
Spirit travels unbuffeted. Warren Buffett is in on this,
And I will press my lips against his lips, against the lips
Of each mouth in the private sector if a kiss
Will marry future, past, and present. This is my
Public works project. Objections? Your silence
Speaks of wonderment—but it is song I need,
Dear friends, your last delicious, whipped aria
Of approved molasses.
. I want to bring to light several
Major weaknesses. Sometimes I see my visage
In crystal-clear lakes and like Narcissus forget I am myself
Yet love myself like I love cold October rain.
For many hours in a day, my output is straight nonsense;
Even as I speak I speak of tilt-shift photography
Amongst other artifices, other bendings of light.
Every morning I wake up and know I have not breathed
Enough throughout the night, have not dreamed up enough
Legislation to veto to applause. My phantasmagoria decay
Apace with institutions—I am the world’s metronome,
I am ashamed to say, not too proud to believe.
This nation must be painted loud—but I have never
Dressed in color.
. Let the primaries and first caucuses
Be my easel and my palette. In Iowa I found myself,
In Texas: delirium tremendum et fascinans;
Mysterious and numinous, this night in Nevada violesces
Like the Aurora Borealis. Like the sun’s expectorations,
I will beat against the firmament with firm showers
Of my party’s fists. This is the me I make for you. This is
The Salt Lake City in my eyes, every city in my sinews
Sculpted with immaculate precision. Conceived, lend me
Your minds. We have an image to reconstitute,
And great restorers to re-find. Are you bored with
Warring angels? Join me. I have smitten saints and
Bowdlerized a wise man. We can have warriors
On every street, if you’ll have me.
. . My platform:
A popcorn populist, I will provide such GIFs the likes of which
You frequently forget. In every church there will be eBooks;
One too many psalmodies piped in through Bose speakers.
The elderly must retrench in piety, or perish. I’m serious.
I cannot mandate enough mandates. This country
Lacks mandates, and mandarin assessment methods,
And Trenchant martinets with chewed up pencils in their ears.
The children learn only the platonic forms of learning,
The vessel, not the content—content must be dogma.
Commerce of content is the Shakespeare of our time:
It will have its ministers. But what about its minstrels?
Greensleeves, green planet, solar panels—carbon tax.
Consider it done.
. I think we’ll all disagree that
Violence is not fun—but I cannot be the arbitrator nor
The arms-dealer. My magic dwindles in the leer
Of automatic poetry, resounding rat-tat-tats
Of hangry words against rundown apartment complex
Walls. I cannot stop an eye rhyme from erupting
A spontaneous conflagration in the California dry—
I too abhor the broken state. I too weep for each
Unsuspecting couplet murdered by a bullet to
Its gullet. I too weep for strange conflations
Of the weapon and the man. Tears cannot bring back
Print thesauruses. No amount of war poetry can change
This. I am but the seat of power; it’s your ass on the hook
To rewrite an award-winning book.
. . Teleology. Ontology.
Opposites? On opposite day, which I decree occurs upon the apex
Of a year, just then. Thus other days are same days,
And that is something like my serpent socialist agenda,
The one that’s coiled in your mother’s cupboard set to
Strike and sunder this more better union. I have banned
All antidotes and brick mortar. Pestles have been ostracized
With potion shops. Why create this rubble, these
Fangs of industry? Why not. By this logic we might
Make our lives our ends and find the rainbows
Whose truth we ardently defend. I dream of busy skies
Like anyone, but I am so inspired by my hubris I assure you
Safely my sky is busiest.
. . Bromides I abhor, but I have
Written a Petrarchan sonnet to the college loan debt crisis.
This is my proudest moment, full stop. If before you weren’t
Playing with your phones, continue; if were, expect
My men to turn your face toward the strop. Listening yet?
I found these dry-bone lines while writing in my diary,
Paged with desiccated leaves, moist paragraphs,
About the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committees,
The daily dramas, huge egos like incensed rams
Blowing horns. Somehow, after cash crops and blueberries,
Sycamore preservation, my mind turned toward
Metaphor, things that grow, the private mind, the mind’s
Elevation—and like to betrothed Laura I wrote
Exclamation after exclamation to a love I cannot
. Woe is the feeling of silent moneys owed.
Woe is the waiter’s slow acceding with a big receipt,
Your fellow diners’ hand kept stingily beneath their seats.
Woe is the vacuum left by your car getting towed.
Woefully, at day-broken dawn our families meet the cash cows that lowed,
In derelict discomfit days before, now whimpering, beat
Dry. Descry the woeful landscape of this fallow scene, replete
With fathers grieving wages swallowed, spit up, swallowed.
I have the weapon for these dragon institutions
So glad to mount your dear sweat-indebted treasures
And with a smoking note roast poor insolvent scholars:
It is the sword of law bequeathed by Constitution,
Forged in the smithy of my presidency, by all measures
Scourge enough to slaughter. To newly mint dollars.
. . . How about
That brand of lobbying? I won’t go bobbing for compliments
Like some sniveling little Democrat drinking in Berlin at
Octoberfest. I won’t sneer at your sooty face like some dumb
Republican whipping cream with a mind of whipped cream. I’m
Balanced—isn’t that what the fulcrum said? The bulk of
My Ted Talks have pandered to an audience and patronized
Them simultaneously. Isn’t that what the thunder said?
Blunder after blunder, blender after blender. Return to depots
What the kitchen, site of evil, was composed of—revile
That which situates our lives in harsh galaxies of microwaves.
Now this is what I call domestic policy. The cabinet leans back
And licks the lollipop we call filibuster. Next time I’m not busy,
I will name my child Filibuster.
. . Customers: to you my salute
Bespeaks the very soul of obsolescence—I get it, that thing you
Needed. How to exit sticky situations? The same morph you
Entered in, your wallet caught between your teeth like
Pirates off the coast with knives between their incisors
For show. It’s supposed to mean something, ebb and flow.
I want us all to spend one day along a coast remembering
Many sad things we’ve bought, the horrible normal
Instance of. The twin masks of theater make comebacks
In that. Just the two. The rest remain lounging on the
Once-great demarcation of Pest and Buda, fanning
Themselves like rich Americans ignorant of Death and
Culture, twin hats of thought leaders.
. . And but so what?
Sounds complex. Speak and don’t go far enough—
Find something less efficient. Going green is insufficient
Or anathema. I won’t have what you’ll have, or
I’ll scream for ice cream. We’ll take the hedge maze until
We’ve lost that thing we couldn’t lose, that one
Thing. Together, though separate, we’ll wail
Until the coast guard rescues us. How’s that for a first
Date? How’s that for a platform predicate: the party
Of the minotaur, acknowledging that, yes, we do eat
Children—every day, without fail, for you, your rebate.
Professional mailing crew, professional crew, comedy
Troupe. All of the above? I swear it’s done out of
. I wish I could’ve had something with everyone
I’ve met, and those I haven’t. Democracy becomes me,
As does the sappy, transcendental, sand-speckled love
Of superclusters spinning out their koans in cold space.
The concept is to hurtle past a denser-packed personage,
Spring shrapnel of an untrammeled intellect that wraps,
Like ivy, up a soil-trammeling stake, exploding. Our
Sentence structure is eroding. Cadillacs and syntax. Tricks
Of the trade pact. Which is for kids? “The bodies of men
And women engirth me, and I engirth them.” This is not
One of those rubber things, for kids, that can’t be burned
Without first being earned. This burns with rebirth
Like starlight searing paths through time. This is the something
That I wish I had with you, my terra-cotta constituency.
. . . The
Purpose of the now is to propose in never-ending cycles
Of proposal documents, shuffling with white temporal wings
The windy flip of calendars, the coruscating shadows
Gently fingering the image of Big Sur—Big swish—more
Proposals. What will we ever know? That the ocean is
A home. Seagulls eat the weather, turning huge
Into a hurricane. These are my innermost remorses,
And too my most sincere achievements. I am the
Candidate of seasons, changeable, unfeeling,
Feeling protean. Consider what you really want
Inside a leader—heart of heather? Or many hearts of
Tin that hold their temperature, that sit in plain
Repose as four apocalypses fury, holding fresh unaging
Contents so tight they bleed.
. . I bleed for so much.
The Mississippi of my body breeches its brittle
Shores—the red river, red silt and red fish, burst,
Make new red rivulets bursting open with the advent
Of the old orange storms—the terrain changed—
Irrevocably, my veins diverted to the sullen roots that
Grip the half-starved rib—grip and nourish, grip and
Not raise to the half-moon’s lick, not risible as such, but
Gather in the valley, gather where the light is lowest,
Where my cavities are emptied, where low water
Puddles, where first worshippers huddled with gravity,
Becoming one oracular reflection while above,
The stars, brighter then than ever, guided nomads
By a strange electric torch.
. . So when I sing “This
Land is my land,” I sing it with my flesh, a
Dead friend’s Warbonnet shaking in my shaking hand.
My aim is to return, reverse. Redundant excrescence
Of my soul: go back. Monroe Doctrine: go back.
Alaska pre-pipeline, ghosts of Juneau, endless
Night: retake your turn to warble with the polar birds.
Herds of bison living and the great dawn burgeoning
Infinite length, solar grace, greensweet grass
Beneath the world-making feet. This is the drum
I’ll strike with Illinois lumber, the bread of
Pennsylvania wheat and Carolina mill I’ll eat.
You’ll eat. Pacific crashes old benthos on the shore—
Off these our elements we nurse.
. . . In this fever,
The mammary is cursed; the mountain of our mothers
Hinges on the unforgiving mantle of the mind, deleterious
If not deleted. I am not a radical, but brains
With stark vision like a telescope trained at the pinnacle
Of patriarchy. There’s algae blooming in the gulf—
It doesn’t bloom for me. I see the early snow
Shining like a myth of diamond in the purple light—
It doesn’t shine for me. I do not keep these for myself.
Not so when the sour cores acidulate the limbs
And capillaries of our wombs—the base, the perfect
Base I’ll find within my fundamentals, so immovable,
So unnamable. Vault of the sky, vault of panacea: chosen
. One deep breath. One deep ventilation
Of the mind, the lung, congested with phlegmatic rheum
Of concept. My presidential speech cocked and
Loaded in your language, barrel-first, triggered in
The recesses of adverb, moving motions, this crisp
Election of—what—conscience. Breathe. Fresh and motile
Like the first sperm wobbling with verve as the
Gate to heaven—what—dilated, you may delight in
Unfettered conception: if only you would just hand in
Your paperwork. If only this world were not berserk
With pretenses of childhood, and what you haven’t learned.
I promise to ensure that we are learned like Ibn Rushd:
Well. There will be bells, there could be whistles. Bach
Will reign supreme conductor of the ethical.
. . . Religiousness.
Every God will be the god of every day, tentacles and
Canticles alike allowed tradition. If you will worship
At the altar of the bedlamite, I give you spoons.
If you might burn your lotto tickets, ash and cinder
Filling chalice skies, I’ll let you burn that hole into
The membrane. Gray hours make gray minutes, make
Gray saltation burnished with a work ethic worthy
Of sick Luther’s waxed pate. Irreverent, deliverant,
Promiscuous, incontinent—the god I am will take your
Homily to the soup kitchen. I must confess. You don’t
Have to. The path once strewn with expectation
Hasn’t been renewed. There is a book of tongues and
Pageantry. There is a book unbound.
. . I am wound
Around a metatarsal knuckled to a temple—destiny
Is what we stump for. Sleep is merely what’s achieved
In the interstices of true genius. Alarum. Exeunt.
Your falsity astounds my gravest speech writer. Your
Falsity perplexes my charlatan chief strategist. This
Is a stage of miscreants, miscreants and actors plumbing
The psychotic self-image in the silver scrape of moon,
What’s left of it, fourth walls demolished by the
Open-source audience—my team has nothing left
But misery to play—howls sounding in the human deep.
Ravaged minds choking with the tar-smog of simple
Thought, mistruths and calumnies, from which
Patriotism won’t recover. Yet there is one softly
. Vote for me. Become me. Inside me,
Find your essence and pubescence once again sounding
Like the first erotic headache burning deviance between
Two ears of fire. Vote for me and find the first lie of sex
Respoken like the first lance burning as the Trojan
Houses by Ulysses’s hot cackle burned. The swaying
Flame mid-air again. Again. Again. Again. Don’t you
Dare stop voting, Helen says—Paris says—I say, and
Undulate amidst the rosy mist your love showers on me:
Willow-touch upon the brow, the tremulous and sensitive
Inside, fit-into, caressed. Bless me with your ovulation,
Birth and lights emerging in spermatogenesis,
The possibility of Moses, this brief conjunction rising
In the east the great star of our time.
. . . The last syzygy
Puzzling a frown across our fate. We won’t read tea leaves
In the sky, nor watch smoke curl into a prophesy like
Questions curl into a mind—the age of constellations
Ever and anon is ended. No death is anonymous, no
Comet phosphoresces less because the epoch is extinguished.
But future finishes itself in self, resolutions of the self-known
Self become new universes—what a variegate vacuum it
Is, erupting technicolor from these little frissons of the real,
The fused. Along the incandescent arc of forged infinitesimal,
The body shudders laughing, beating toward potential:
Star-steel, steel galaxy, substance in itself alloyed with
Harmony. This is the ubermolecule: you float a spinning
Lepton round its pulsing core.
. . How magnetic should I be? How
Brimming with quotations from the federalist papers? How
Up on biggest hits, how comprehending of the six-second clip,
The shortening of the avant-garde epic? The curvature of space
Condensed in time? Tunnels folding in on tunnels—fractal
Travel? The memoirs of pianists, wordsmiths, analysts,
Actuaries, dignitaries, intellects, academes, invalids,
Publishers, prophets, employees—the swath of the growing,
The swath of the dying? I am your strong nuclear force—
Knowing nothing, holding everything known. I have
Forgotten everything I’ve ever known for you, to be
A just joist, tough scaffold, chapped hands, pewter collet,
A Presidential Heart, vascular and taut with loss, nourishing
The body politic.
. For this is yours, my daughter, my son.
These grams of policy, this dictionary of energy. Images
Will find you—you’ll be ready. Armed with sorcery and guile,
A purse full of prose, a sturdy quill, the world, its will,
Is writeable. Let that first page be a vote for me. No,
I cannot stop. I am who I am, the candidate of perpetuity,
The living, breathing comment. Don’t cry for me—vote for me.
Don’t pity me—vote for me. I grow old. I grow up.
Where rivers run, I walk and dream utopia. I pass
The storefront glass, I see myself peer into better worlds.
I am envious. I still envy. But when I turn away, I
Turn into a broken thing that broken, thumping, lives.
This is you, my loves. Without you, there is nothing—
This is all I ever meant to say. Vote for me. This is all I ever meant.
Benjamin Carter Olcott is the Managing Editor and Poetry Editor of KGB Bar Literary Magazine. He has poems forthcoming in SHARKPACK Annual and is currently at work on a lengthy prose manuscript. In addition to writing, Ben is an editor at Oxford University Press and a bookseller at 192 Books in New York City. He hopes you enjoy or have enjoyed this work.