The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2012

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MAR 2012 Issue


La Imagen

Neither she nor anyone else has yet thought of a truly compelling storyline to go with this image of herself scrunched into a corner of a boutique in the Chelsea District after closing hours wearing a royal blue Hazmat suit and black gas mask reading a 1971 yellow OSHA standards catalogue – backwards.  

Who is she? Is she merely someone’s (doctored, distorted) “weirdly gorgeous” poetic offspring, or is she something more than that? 

Alright, if she is “something much more than that”, then why is regarding her as “someone’s (doctored, distorted) ‘weirdly gorgeous’ poetic offspring” the thing that really kicks your “media intelligence” into high gear?

Whether you’re a “global leader in the embroidery industry” or a “local enforcer of dangerous workplace practices,” or just a pooped out liberal littérateur in New York City who imagines both of those, when viewing this image (royal blue – black – yellow) the idea of re-pixellating images one upon the other for twelve hours a day in a sparsely decorated cubicle alongside three hundred others in Mumbai, is something that might not get your attention. 

To actually feel yourself turned into re-pixellated portions of an anonymous force’s self-image, switch-packeting you onto the internet just as you’re about to declare a lyrically lush “love of humanity in general” - is something that could grab your attention, but also make for a pretty damn good “(doctored, distorted) ‘weirdly gorgeous’, poetic offspring” in need of a storyline. 



El Grupito

Meal for history

Estimated time of underground syndicate’s existence: 1 year, 3 months 

Number of full-blown, media-diffracting actions: 38

Human faculties sharpened/perfected: oculatory, olfactory, gustatory, somatosensory

Amount of doublethink: zero



Los Bardos

The edge of death

The seconds right before the cessation of all sensation. Biologic systems breaking down, a narrowing of the Life Force, heading towards some kind of conclusion, a “conclusion” whose conditions remain utterly unknown to the living.

Death - is not “a black void in eternity.”   

To begin with, the word “black” requires a monosyllabic utterance; it is formed by the lips, tongue, and throat of the living.

First, a soft-labial explosive is formed by the lips; it is then followed by a soft flicking of the tongue at the roof of the mouth; that, in turn, is followed by an opening of the glottis (the tongue is passive at that moment, the lips are passive at that moment); the word ends with a rapid compression of the tonsils into a final crisp, clicking sound, “k”.  

All that’s not death - is a sure candidate for being “life”

“Two people read a sonically virtuosic dialogue, eagerly devouring & variating each other’s rhythm’s for the first time.” 




El Psicologo

Ditching a whole week of classes in the middle of his first semester at Oberlin to spend it in Belarus with his dorm building’s maintenance man is a dicey proposition to be sure. Telling his new girlfriend he’s going to his grandmother’s funeral in “nowhere Pennsylvania” while at the same time asking his parents for $1, 000 for a “social activism retreat in the state of Washington” - is even more dicey.

But those things pale in comparison to him accepting $10, 000 to transport eight packets of T4 explosives in his intestines “to be deposited” in the privacy of a hotel room next to Newark International Airport.  

It’s his third time, and like the other two times, everything went as smooth as glass. 

The following weekend after he got back, he took a bus to New York City to spend some “alone time.”  In the Meat Packing District (where the Hollywood set flies in to shop) he bought a black, sharkskin pair of pants with a sparkly silver trimmed belt for $2000.   

In the cellar of his dorm room, the oil-burning heater makes a deep whirring sound just loud enough to drown out the latest round of tactical arguments led by the maintenance man’s storm of demonic words.  After the kid’s “collegiate-global opinion” has withstood a solid forty-minute pounding, he respectfully slips out of the cellar, and changes into the black sharkskin jeans and sparkly silver trimmed belt for a “night out on campus” (poorly lit).

Next morning, in the cafeteria, he greets his girlfriend with an easy smile. They stroll out onto a large grass lawn in the warm sun to study for their psychology final, “multiple personalities diagnosis.” He announces to her that he’s decided to specialize in that very area. She slowly clasps his hand and gives him a little peck on the lips.  



Los Resignados

“Oh my god, I was - for a flash of a moment - so jealous when I looked across the room and saw you getting pre-published by that weird guy with the black gloves, but I have to admit, ever since that evening, I can’t get the image of your hummingbird-like flightiness and form-fibrillating social graces out of my mind. 

We’ve been ‘scenester & scenestress’ for 42.731 yearsnow, but I think it’s time we give into this new reality. I know you crave new hokey poetic trends – donkey-eared ones, short rhino-tailed ones, toucan-hooking crooked ones, one’s with huge swollen gizzards a-flapping for all to see.

When that up-and-comer ‘oral tradition’ specialist from the South Bronx introduced his Poesia Auténtica Revolucionaria de Nuestras Americas perspective into your well-worn repertoire and yanked off your remaining ‘urban hair piece’ while you screamed ‘de-wig me! Then him scattering your ceramic craftworks onto the floor, pruning your prize-winning tulips at will - clip clip clip clip, then class-roasting your boating friends as we were about all board – eyebrows nearly seared off – eyes glazed as the sun set – and you, squeezing your wine glass stem till it snapped - at that point, right there, I knew you weren’t the same ‘scenetress’ I ran with 42.731 yearsago.

I can’t wait to hear your true feelings about all this under the cover of a dense, thick layer of CO2 cloud cover in Poughkeepsie, NY.

With Love,

Yr. Corporate, lightly-literary, handy husband”



Las Conveniencias 

“There…mmm …that should settle me down for a few weeks…ouch…mmm…oof! I really needed that…I really need this kind of stuff!…so much…I’m glad tech commodities just blend into reality itself when they’re initial wow-moment is finished – bastards!…they so…get me going…what they do to me…I don’t think I’m able to…pay much attention to anything…just now…even if I tried (ha!)…god, it works!  this app…I fucking love it…I love it I love it I love it… 

Tomorrow I’ll: 

-  Rotate my egalitarian value-system to align with connect-me-first residues smeared onto my heart’s dresser mirror

-   Clean out the old political refrigerator

-   Re-write my resume

-   Update my profile on

-  Write a poem - I haven’t penned one in over a year!

-   Apply some high quality skin lotion to my sizzling, sweet, touchpad index finger flesh” 



Los Entusiastas

This has gone pretty far, and it’s likely to go further. Quite literally nothing else does it for them anymore - they have to feel fully airborne and free falling to the ground - to feel anything at all.

How did this deep-seated understanding of body mass vs. gravity evolve? 

When their Corporate Assets Chief finally let them control the main console a few nights at the Federal Aviation Center’s Jet Lander Simulator last year, these barristers were absolutely smitten with aerospace near-miss disasters. They suddenly felt internally chaotically frisky, suddenly more the captains of their primal instincts. 

They wore mostly twill and tight button-down long sleeves as they depressed & released literally hundreds of buttons per session. One night, unbeknownst to them as to why, they decided to wear fireman pants, but sheared-off, in the form of a kilt, cut just above the knees. As they pre-sequenced what seemed like just another routine flight from La Guardia to Ronald Reagan International, they suddenly sensed an intense heavy gaze fall onto their faces from across the hangar. No sooner than they looked up to see who it was, than they sensed a huge stream of piss dropping onto their “pants.” They immediately (electro-mechanically) deployed a towel from under the consoles and began to frantically wipe themselves off.  As the wiping came to a close, they raised their heads only to find the man with the deep-set eyes and oddly angular Hollywood plastic-looking dark hair carving out their skulls with his gaze. They felt an additional drops sprinkle onto their mixed up attire. The rest is history.

They’ve grown to love the combination of charred, “preferred guest” lawyerly aroma coupled with the light, sprizzy scent of liquid nitrogen foam and polyethylene anti-incendiary tarps. They all play hard at “trap the union health & safety department into a genie bottle.”  

Also, they’ve since switched from twill & graph paper pattern wear to modest platinum leopard pants and chunky-monkey muscle tees at headquarters. They’re not “casualties,” they’re casualty makers and shakers. 


Rodrigo Toscano

RODRIGO TOSCANO's upcoming book is Deck of Deeds (Counterpath Press 2012). Collapsible Poetics Theater was a 2007 National Poetry Series Selection. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies, Against Expression, Diasporic Avant Gardes, and Poetic Voices Without Borders. Toscano has worked for the Labor Institute for 12 years. He works out of a laptop, tethered to a Droid, residing in airports nationwide, occupying poetics in midflight. He lives happily and snuggly resides in the Greenpoint Township of Brooklyn, where he runs and writes for the North Brooklyn Runners.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2012

All Issues