An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
The Spider's Tears
To accept I'm an algorithm
means no more worries
about posterity. It doesn't
matter I had no date
for the prom, never got
the degree, made no more
than two grand from my writing. These errors were
no error. The lost years
prevented wrong turns. The strained tropes
had charm and were socially revealing.
Though long and complex, the formula
coheres and, although it may take a while,
I'm a reproducible result.
Even now, over irrelevant
vastness, shrugging off
(or the equivalent) the annoyance
of time, some immensely
cool mind decodes me.
It can project into, appreciate
any form, breathe any atmosphere.
Hairspray. Those dresses
from prom night, their military-
industrial loves and convertibles
condense into a poem that brings
a tear to the eye of that mind; and if
it has eight eyes, lovely.
Left the Building
Each night the resort
on the atoll plays
Two black guys. The squat one
an angel tenor with an angel's grin,
his scarecrow friend a basalt bass.
Whatever comes to hand becomes music.
Each has a sort of homemade mandolin,
and a repertoire of T-shirts –
bands, brands, Che and Marley –
already ancient when the films were made.
In a similarly touching old-world way,
they sing exclusively
of heterosexual and only mildly
violent love. Of an island girl
who gets around, breaks hearts, looks forward.
Girls like her pass
from nothingness to nothingness before
the singers' plastic chairs, in whatever
cement courtyard. Fronds wave. The girls
throw fish and links on grills. The scarecrow
pounds something metal. People dance,
flirt, fight; they're almost as big
a draw as the guys. The audience
picks at vaguely similar fish,
sings along, doesn't ask –
though a version of the answer would be put
in their brains if they wished –
where those courtyards were, where those people went.
At dawn they stroll the narrow beach.
Lights on the green and rounded
ruins beneath the waves are going out.
People of few but repeated words, they share
their love of those holograms and summon
hovercraft to come for them.
This craze exhausts the last petroleum.
With age I cry more easily,
but who wouldn't cry on the day of victory?
And wait for my drink till I realize
that the role of waiter has been abolished,
seek out the bar and make (abstemiously,
though there's lots of Campari left) my own.
On the square, the accordion
of a thickset smoker (an actual worker –
I knew they still existed!), some revitalized
jazz and ethnic ululations
share, not compete for, room in the noise.
Sometimes a Springsteen or Theodorakis
hymn strikes everyone's fancy. Otherwise,
decisions of the local, regional,
and global Councils blare unheard,
precluded by joy, obviated by trust.
Just outside town the corporate
fields are being seized, the factories
repurposed. Rarely adding anything canned,
skilled mothers bake and their daughters distribute
the peasant treats we're enjoying; I eye
the girls and bandoliered militant ladies
with the same comradely circumspection.
From a lamppost the bought-and-paid-for
governor and those who bought him
and could be caught hang bankrupt. A new
flag waves, or none, but seems blurred; I lower
the headset (really little more than glasses).
The square is sedate, largely empty of poor;
there's joy in cars and shop-windows
while the drinkers, myself included, feel
the usual. In the earpiece, Jobs
(his voice in many ears around the world
at this moment) says
how satisfied he hopes I am
with my custom-made experience. "Totally
ersatz," I say pointlessly. "What can't
be realized can't be simulated."
And he or it: "I have to disagree –
only the virtual can be fulfilled."
Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology, Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma, Neon, Orbis, Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc.