The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

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MAY 2020 Issue


The informant is estranged from his own estrangement. I told you this would happen.

The hallucinated person is speaking with his demon.

The colonized people remember the colonizers, those that invented the boomerang.

Who pays the hallucinated person to see himself? Our demon is running late.

More than death the hallucinated person wanted violence and certain rights.

The informant sees that the hallucinated person is a phenomenon. That which separates.

The informant hovers at the edge of the hallucination, on the front lines.

Sham existence

Some tenderness, some generosity

What was it that was mine to give?

The informant is leaking

Words and images both


Today, after elementary school , middle school, high school, college and two graduate degrees I for the first time read Christopher Columbus’s account of meeting the natives.

Today I learned that after the jews, gypsies, jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, and general dissidents were released from internment camps by the allies it was decided that the homosexual prisoners had not completed their prison sentences though their time in the death camps would count towards time served.

Columbus thought it was a sign of the native’s stupidity that they were nice and brought him presents. One native who was taken back with Columbus in a cage was said to have died of sadness.

Homosexuals in internment camps were likely to have medical tests tried out on them. Some of them were given the choice to leave the camps and serve in the military, if they were wiling to be castrated.

I climbed a mountain and came upon a group of women singing holding hands. In the middle of the group, the hallucinated person was writing in the dirt with a stick.

“I am against all written language.” Writing is the oppressor’s milk. I will see the written word wherever I want to see it.

Why are we to think of the informant? So hungry for emptying his knowledge pot onto us.

The colonized people did not realize until it was too late that they were being seen as the colonized people.

Somehow it was true that an Aryan man could be in a Nazi internment camp for performing homosexual acts and also true that his very survival in the camps was dependent on him performing homosexual acts for and with Nazi officers.

I am just reciting facts from a book I just finished reading.

I have nothing new to say. It has all been said before. I am the informant.

When I came down from the mountain I noticed a sign that said not to go up the mountain. Going up the mountain is forbidden today. But I could not un-see what I had seen. The sign, forbidding people to go up the mountain, made me see what I had seen in a new light, I now saw the women holding hands as a warning, the beginning of a virgin sacrifice. Off limits.

“But is it art?” the hallucinated person wanted to know and was always asking. The hallucinated person thought of art when nobody else was thinking of it.

And death camps because who can think of art and not think of the collective end.

Christopher Columbus thought that the natives were very beautiful and also naïve. Overall they must be idiots in part because they were naked. There was a relationship between their not having clothes and him thinking that they were make excellent servants.

The world was made of compartments, bloodstained, with too many protagonists.

An atmosphere of submission was created.

The informant was privileged to be an actor.

I have not seen any liberation that looked as I had imagined liberation to look.

All of it being so estranged.

At the top of the mountain there was said to be a sanctuary and when I got to the top of the mountain I looked upon every tree, every stone, every marking and wondered if this was what was meant by that word : ‘sanctuary.’

Sometimes while I am reading I think to myself : I should read more about what I am reading. This is just a beginning. A spark. I want to go deeper and find myself standing on the island of Manhattan knowing all the past lives the island holds.

I was reading and I saw the word ‘informant’ being used in a way I had never seen the word used before. I started to expound upon the new usage but I did not know yet what I was writing. Where it would take place. Who the actors would be. I saw many protagonists.

Concerning violence I could only think back on my education in its narcissistic dialogue of thought. Dead words on a pedestal.

My scheme, what would my scheme entail? Towards whom would I throw all that anger?

In the new usage of the word informant, it did not matter whether the informant blended in, was noticeable to those he was observing. He simply was an observer who speaks.

The process of becoming critical was at times painful. Violent.

I see that at every stage, in every scene that I take us to, the hallucinated person is there amid every transaction writing into the dirt, observing. Hovering.

The cult of detail intact, sponsored

The hallucinated person coils at the sight of his creature.

Be alert, immobile heart

If ever your heart should stop

Be in that moment the hallucinated person, hovering

Vendetta upon waking

And yet the hallucinated person does not exist because they are by definition hallucinated

The informant bypasses the structure of seeing

Achieves calmness and a terrifying belief in reality

Meanwhile, a magical unconscious was developing

Dreams of being on the top of the mountain and then the mountain suddenly gives way underfoot

A sign that says sanctuary that is invisibly written on every stone atom

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know

The erotics of crisis

What am I trying to liberate through this explanation

Towards what body pantomime

Impatient lava will flow

Covering up the colonized and the colonizers alike

Flowing into each other

As vessels and outlets both

Observe this:

An individual, both hallucinated person and real, lets flow the ghosts of ancestors through his erection.

I’m just telling you what I saw

The beginning of a virgin sacrifice

The Demon, running late, enters.


I guess the ghosts of the ancestors are speaking to each other through the erection’s timeless tradition of release.

How was I to know myself looming on the horizon

What did I say in return?

I said any poem with ‘self-immolation’ in it would be hard to read, the words overpowered anything else it was trying to say

But maybe it was only trying to say ‘self-immolation’

And all the words around self-immolation were ornament

I said this to my demon ; the demonic returns

Here is a distinct isolated fantasy:

The representational spectrum included my hallucinated body

Embodied and disembodied, disavowing the body, bodiless bodies

Economic forces

A person in a cage died of sadness

People became accustomed to seeing bodies in the street.

It became known that the guns were more than ornament on the arms of the officers.

My stance is to be resourceful

To make use of misfires

“I will put all misfires to good use” my young voice could be heard speaking.

I saw all of time unfolding beyond conquest

You haven’t seen anything yet, the demon remarks.

The settlers

The incident of frantic force

The commanding police officer at the South African Sharpeville Massacre said, “"the native mentality does not allow them to gather for a peaceful demonstration. For them to gather means violence.”

Reading about Nazis had led me to read Christopher Columbus in his own words which had led me to read about the Sharpeville Massacre

And for a moment those events existed in that order. Nazis. Chrisopher Columbus. Sharpeville Massacre. Myself reading.



Massacre. Massacre. Massacre.

All the thoughts left unexplored

In the hemispheric sense

Of strategic refusal

Here comes the apparition,

The APPARITION speaks slowly: I have arrived to debunk the theory of all that is generative. Nothing is generative. All limits are acts of spontaneous disruption. We are entering into a love-bond performance, just being listeners of arrangement and can you believe it is us, looking down at our large erections, sated just to have bodies that work.

In other words,

Does anyone mind these axes upon their throats?

I wondered if I too could write a poem

In which self-immolation took place

Having never witnessed self-immolation

Or been too heavily confronted by its gesture

I thought for a moment

Of my body on fire

The embryonic hallucinated person is road-blocked before they have even been birthed into the hallucinated world.

What was being learned too quickly

How much of being young

Was it possible to forget


A being entered with new words

For old gestures

But that knowledge had already

Come to me slowly

Crept in

And I was supposed to be lucky

Because slow learning is a gift

And someone always hovers above us

Wanting to make meaning

And wanting to hover myself

Without incident

I saw people gathered

You haven’t seen anything yet

Without incident

Could any of us see the oppressors

The gathering

The apparition

I crept in, / I crawled

I’m not making equivalencies

I’m just telling you what I saw

On fire

My consciousness moved over me like a cloud


Anna Gurton-Wachter

Anna Gurton-Wachter is a writer, editor and archivist. Her first full length book, Utopia Pipe Dream Memory, was published in late 2019 by Ugly Duckling Presse. She is the author of six chapbooks with recent writing available or forthcoming from A Glimpse Of, Black Warrior Review, and Armstrong Literary Review. Anna is 1/3 of DoubleCross Press, a handmade poetry micro-press, and she puts people’s poems online at counterpoetry dot com. Anna lives in Brooklyn, NY, a few blocks from where she was born and raised. For more info visit /


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

All Issues