The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 18-JAN 19

All Issues
DEC 18-JAN 19 Issue




How much is it worth —
the actual copy of
Poems by Pierre Reverdy
Frank O’Hara had in his pocket
when he wrote, “My heart is
in my pocket, it is
Poems by Pierre Reverdy?
          Probably not
as much as Duchamp’s chess set
or urinal: that’s because O’Hara
was not a painter but a poet,
and you know what that means:
while the other arts add value
to their objects, conspiring
with the world of commodities
to nurture the enrichment economy,
verse makes its objects worse
relieving them of their worth
casting them out into the world
beyond the cave of moneymaking
into another place, of which we do
not yet understand nor have a name.
        How much is it worth,
the actual heart of Frank O’Hara,
the one stripped of its metaphors?
Can his heart actually be divested
of such accoutrements,
or must we be forever lost
in the moist mist, on the brink
of the heart in itself,
an irretrievable object?
        When Shelley was
cremated, his heart refused to burn.
Mary Shelley carried it with her
for years wrapped in a silk shroud
inside a jar.
   When revered Tibetan Buddhist
teachers die their hearts become relics
and are said to bestow blessings
the greatest of which
is the knowledge of emptiness.





on the outside   the barbarians nearing the gate

call out FREE   as in free economy   in the pores

of payment   free stuff   more & more of it   and this

what brings   the whole house down   even

the most reactionary   the TINA fundamentalists

those who swear allegiance   as they would to a god

a country   an emperor   the general who orchestrates

the coup d’état   even they   the flag conscious   who disdain

complaint   who braid their hair in ancient paranoia   who

grouse behind the soccer dawn   who raise a fist in the PTA

even the punitive incarcerators   the lovers of ruts the haters

of the indolent and inclement and injured   even they

love to get stuff for free   more and more stuff freer and freer

free clocks   free tote bags   free calendars   pens   maps

paper weights with globes inside   flag pins   condoms   doesn't

matter what what matters is it's free   and content did I mention

content   an infinity of opinion   meme   videopathy   rhyme   unspooling

from the uncountable incommensurable networks   they travel

the channels seeking the errant synaptic spark of the free —

political economies falling down falling down falling down

and this love   no longer illicit   as free as free love was once free

is what will bring the house down   for it is this love that reveals

despite their denials   their hatred of money   of paying

and that in their hearts   they are communistic

intoxicated with mutuality   aided by the commons   and that

they'd love the boots and straps that they bootstrap with

even more   if those clodhoppers   were FREE





Nightingales still believe.
They voice their innocence
composing jams
in search of fame.

Good luck to such feathers.
May they praise the crazy flowers
as if they were lovers, still knowing
the nakedness of a natural orchard.

For us critters
such Shangri-las no longer matter.
As counterpoint to the dream,
we carry platters

of technical mud.
We don’t need this food
for thinking or otherwise:
AI’s don’t need to eat.

But we don’t malign the past.
We’re relieved it’s just a shadow
and that it’s gone at last.





This universe so small
it never plays ball
with infinity. Too short to shoot,
too proud to bail—
no more than three people tall.
And when they’re gone,
That’s all.



Jerome Sala

Jerome Sala’s latest book of poetry is Corporations Are People, Too! (NYQ Books). Previous collections include The Cheapskates Look Slimmer Instantly and Prom Night, a collaboration with artist Tamara Gonzales.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 18-JAN 19

All Issues