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from A Poem for Record Keepers

“I must unlearn what has been taught me.”

—John Wieners


Neil Young used to dig Picasso.
Memory inherits paralysis.
I’m all fucked up on feeling(s).
Can I count on you?
The sea is immense.
Drink up.

It’s necessary that everyone can have something.
Italian sub.
A general dullness.
(Being versus appearing.
Almost snow.

Reading used to mean fortune telling.
I want to remember every song.
But what I wanted before I don’t want anymore.
Because I’m getting something else instead.
My name is Babe.
I sell perfume.
Thank you for your order.

Henry Hudson captained the Half Moon in 1608.
Today people die because they don’t know where they’re going.
Fung Wah feathers.
Call back my half.
“[B]ecause we [were] sliced like filets of sole.”
Hopping on one leg.
Go go.

We‘re not baseball.
Don’t hold me responsible.
Eyelid of idiocy.
Daughter of drug flutter.
I know what’s good.
There is soup.
Try it.

Davy Crockett at the Academy.
MOBY DICK when I sit.
What’s a name?
John Paul Jones.
Yellow houses of holes.
Take me by.
The port’s mouth.

I don’t trust men with hairless chests.
Get serious.
Wet your face before getting indigestion.
Before ordering huevos rancheros.
Picture tree surgeons on the tops of New Jersey.
Get on with your life.

When Robert Plant sings.
“Wanna Whole Lotta Love.”
He’s talking about suffering.
Give the people what they want.
Turn / turn back / turn away / turn on.
Covered / uncovered / naked / not naked.
How do you make your music?

A pamphlet, a manifesto, an instruction manual.
You’d rather be a fortune-teller.
A navigator.
A projector.
You want to sing.
You contain, you know.
Do you know?

Scientists study deception.
At the front desk.
A vague politeness.
But let’s keep talking.
I’m so well-equipped.
In unbearable situations.
It’s my one virtue.

Chicken wings.
With a side of stuff.
Or the new insincerity.
I’m sorry.
The moon used to be closer to the earth.
Remember / time?

Socrates used to say, “What do you want?”
In fancy sandals.
In the vertiginous lost & found.
We are codenames.
We are irregular patches of dust.
Phosphorescent swarms of ellipses in the afternoon.
Return to our jobs.

Spring song.
So many ugly hats.
Dismembered cloud transmissions.
From exiled fashion designers.
And long-deceased seamstresses.
At once swaths.
Of synthetic turf in vicious folds.

Dante died in transit.
Keats in Rome.
Pound, Venice; Montale, Milan.
Orgy of want.
Vestibule of don’t want.
I’m trying to locate the shiny spot.
On your glass.

You want a location.
But you really mean a telescope.
I hand you the champagne from no occasion.
Should I keep going?
In certain rooms we can only look ahead.
Looking ahead is fun.
When you’re delusional.

Shuttlecock is shortened to shuttle.
Shuffle the shuttle of the loom.
The cock part (made of feathers).
Breaks easily, is replaced with plastic.
I find the hardest part.
About talking.
Is the part about talking.

“Why does someone have to die?”
Sportscasters and academics are all alike.
They know what they’re saying.
But they’re not saying anything.
Disaster-piece theater.
In the diabetic sock section.
I wrote this for you.

Every day we find new ways to insult each other.
The sudden we.
Miscalculating the myriad of Mary-Anns tights-less in Florida.
“Make something / do something to it / do something to that.”

I’m beginning to wonder if this is just a coping mechanism.
A way to move the space between ideas and things.
A strange community of nets.
Never ending free-throws.
But sometimes I can feel calm.
Like right now.
Because tonight we‘ll watch the Spurs & the Heat & touch each other.

Was it curiosity or boredom that brought us here?
I ask because it’s summer.
And we’re always reorganizing our dreams.
A glistening ecosystem of Dairy Queens.
Taut cones.
Not all women age so gracefully.
Hurry home.

Branches become mythologies.
Satellites broadcasting our mutual solitudes.
We cover a lot of miles.
Then unpack immediately.
We make a great team.
At the town fair.
I cover the sun with a steel cloak.

The way you nod your head is comforting.
Look up.
Waving red garments.
Ancient fireworks.
It’s going through the spectrum you say as we round the bend.
We catch a glimpse of the stationary.
We give sensations names.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young is not a good band name.
Despite what you think.
I’m not that girl.
I never lie, but.
I’m still learning how to tell the truth.
I’m still practicing kissing.
Call it “Studying Hunger.”

Speaking is translating.
Words have specific uses.
Like fingers.
We make lists while constellations shift over Texas.
Transmissions of our likeness.
We are glowing.
Hold your applause.


Ali Power

ALI POWER is an editor at Rizzoli International Publications and co-founder of Maggy Poetry Magazine. With Bill Berkson, Larry Fagin, and Jenni Quilter, she edited the volume New York School Painters & Poets (Rizzoli, October 2014). Power's poems have appeared in Forklift, OhioPainted Bride Quarterly, the PEN Poetry Series, Washington Square, and elsewhere.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2014

All Issues