Four Poems from “Incidentals”
By Ted Pearson
With few tools and scant know-how, we are building a movement to resist the forces that have made us what we are. Ideology functions by remote control, which is how it dictates the psychic economy that rules our damaged lives. The lumpen dignify their abjection by aiding and abetting the rule of the oligarchs. All that we, in a word, reject as the bane of our works and days. And, while our nights are ours alone, they are no less bound by regulations, no less subject to surveillance. Whence, their attempts to gaslight the pain that attends our historical condition. Which must be acknowledged, even as we seek a world devoid of unnecessary suffering. Such is the famously utopian premise that warrants our asking the old conundrum: what is to be done? That is the question that, not for nothing, now belongs to you.
Imagine a chorus of self-ordained poets, as if there were any other kind. Nobody knows the trouble they’ve seen because “no one listens to poetry.” Imagine their voices swelling in defiance as they march in lockstep down the boulevard of dreams. Marketing the gift. Marketing the gift. They shall come in hungry droves, marketing the gift. Nor will they have gained the world thereby, though that was once on offer. Instead, they find themselves utterly seduced by the myth of the one true self. The one they imagine is uniquely theirs, if only because they think so. If poetry favors those who want it, it’s clearly not for everyone. Just ask around, if you don’t believe me, but know that the answer will be bad for morale. In fact, it will only add to the pain that you’ve already brought to the table.
Between sheltering in place and assuming the position comes our unrequited love of justice. Unless, of course, you have no place and therefore have no shelter. Displays of privilege are de rigueur where water nymphs lounge by infinity pools and gossip about their clients. The nymphs will concede that they’re paid to be bored. Thus emerges a political economy disguised as a Venus flytrap. Ask your mother regarding nectar as a medium of exchange. Toxic discourse sets the stage where global conflicts rage. A continent is burning, sad to say, but such are the stakes in the war against nature. Indeed, it’s the selfsame masters of war who have turned the culture of mayhem to account. In their world, violence is healthy competition under cover of a smoke-filled sky. Meanwhile, back at the infinity pool, Orpheus plays his final set while DNA is exchanged.
What of life in the mighty miasma (the great dismal swamp) (the imperial city) where the word of the day is cockroach? Bravado masks the people’s fears as if they were bred for the trenches. This brings joy to the privateers whose black sites hide under bouncy houses and whose evil knows no bounds. Meanwhile, the myth of the Zeitgeist will persist for as long as you believe in ghosts. There are only tenors in search of vehicles. (There are only parasites in search of hosts.) Population flows follow well known trade routes. With record numbers of refugees, the fires of their encampments are visible from space. Anxious asylum seekers crowd ports of call in flight from the Law of the Father. Where rockets make for hard rain, mass graves open below the fold. When national interests are aligned with capital, rank immiseration follows.
Californian by birth, Ted Pearson is a poet associated with the Language school. He is the author of 30+ books, spanning five decades. His most recent collections include Personal Effects (2019), Exit Music (2019) and Last Date (2020).
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