The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues
APRIL 2021 Issue


Nursery Song
      (After Sean Bonney)

Don’t say “pandemic lockdown”
Say Fuck the rich/their private island getaways
Say Fuck their Aspen lodges/stocked with climate-controlled volcanoes
and children named after weather stations and rare cheeses

Don't say “clubbed and beaten”
Say Fuck clubbing and slumming
Say Fuck following and liking

Don’t say “assortment of pretty much everything you can imagine,
at a loss for words, beyond your wildest dreams”
Don’t say “quartz countertops, home theater, private cul-de-sac, second getaway”
Say Fuck the rich, their carbon footprint, their dinosaur ways

Don't say “stay at home orders, essential workers, front lines of death,”
Say Fuck fabulous gym rat, TV personality smile, life style influencer

Don’t say “drowning in debt, jobless rollout, prioritize assisted living,”
Say Fuck lounging by the pool, swimming into the future, moonlight stroll

Don't say “another milestone, strain capacity, possible spread,”
Say Fuck galas and red carpets
Fuck blockbusters and special consultants
Fuck jewel in social crown
Fuck emulation and following in footsteps
Fuck controversial outfits glowing in the dark
Fuck svelte gluttony and perfect abs

Don’t say “going hungry”
Say Fuck jaw dropping

Don’t say “hoi polloi, riffraff, and proles”
Don’t say “back to normal or the way things used to be”
Don’t say “Let’s see what the future holds”
Say Fuck the little golf cart/stretch limo they rode in on
Say Fuck their followers and their driveling ways
Don’t say “viral”, say virus
Say Fuck your pumpkin spice

Don’t say “comfortable at home attire, loungewear, soon to be biggest trends”
Say Fuck whole new meaning and affordable chic

Don’t say “The right balm for wardrobe doldrums”
Don’t say “fashion plate and ice cream colored costume”
Don’t say “luxury matching designer errands”
Say Fuck the old self, the complete overhaul, destroy all evidence of inner calm

Don’t say “stable environment, outdoor grounds, privacy, and for the kids”
Don’t say, “pitchfork diplomacy, flag stabbing, constitutional gripes”
Say Fucking bloody thorn in your side, I got nowhere to go but up

Nursery Song (Second Chorus)

Fuck “flaunt”

Fuck “perfectly my type” and “got to go for what you want”

Fuck “meant to be” and “forever”

Fuck “haven’t stopped smiling”

Fuck “has my back” and “always there for me”

Fuck “effortlessly demure” and “naturally handsome”

Fuck “sincere apologies” “no excuses” and “the single worst decision of my life”

Fuck “celebrity breeding” and “predicting children’s looks”

Fuck “epic blunder”

Fuck “steamy” “dreamy” and “creamy”

Fuck “debut selfie tribute”

Fuck “plant based workout”

Fuck, “heartfelt” “double take” and “in a frenzy”

Fuck “fist bumps” and “baby bumps”

Fuck “one rule for celebrities and one for everyone else”

Fuck “binge” “fringe” and “cringe”

Fuck “wonderful journey” and “eager to begin the next chapter”


John Yau

John Yau has three books that have landed or will soon land on earth: Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal (Rizzoli, 2022); Tell It Slant (Omnidawn, 2023); John Pai: Liquid Steel (Rizzoli (2023). An exhibition, Disguise the Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations, will open at art museum of the University of Kentucky in Lexington in January 2024, curated by Stuart Horodner.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues