"Cuisine Bourgeoise" by Wallace Stevens
These days of disinheritance, we feast
On human heads. True, birds rebuild
Old nests and there is blue in the woods.
The church bells clap one night in the week,
But that's all done. It is what used to be,
As they used to lie in the grass, in the heat,
Men on green beds and women half of sun.
The words are written, though not yet said.
It is like the season when, after summer,
It is summer and it is not, it is autumn
And it is not, it is day and it is not,
As if last night's lamps continued to burn,
As if yesterday's people continued to watch
The sky, half porcelain, preferring that
To shaking out heavy bodies in the glares
Of this present, this science, this unrecognized,
This outpost, this douce, this dumb, this dead, in which
We feast on human heads, brought in on leaves,
Crowned with the first, cold buds. On these we live,
No longer on the ancient cake of seed,
The almond and deep fruit. This bitter meat
Sustains us...Who then, are they, seated here?
Is the table a mirror in which they sit and look?
Are they men eating reflections of themselves?
"Days of Disinheritance" by Nelms
As if it was within our power to decide, we've decided,
Time to move on. Using the ancient processes
Of humanity's vilified cannibals, we shrunk our own heads,
And we belted them round our waists to make it easier
For travel, and to hide the progression of our drooping
Guts, just as fathers before us had used the notorious fannypack,
Just so we've moved on to the use of our heads, new parents
Of new ideas for new techniques better suited to preserve the old ways.
Lighter in the neck, we stand taller, more erect.
With less room in our heads to think
We have improved athleticism for laughter, eroticism, & reflex--
That noble science of the present-tense animals perfect,
Which we've moved to accomplish and all our history remember only to reject.
Of the habits of the birds, we believe we remember the basics,
But not what beauty they were, if they were, or the meaning
Of the beauty, if we should be led to believe
It had a meaning at all. The lesson we take away
Is survival, and how to trash-up a nest for blessed rest.
Now we've gone through the hard part,
Through the paranoia of mastery
Which makes the world complex,
It's all so simple now, having shrunk our heads. Not only alive,
We've found ourselves in love with it, or shiny parts of it,
So much so, we somehow want to survive, which is in keeping with.
Like a nest
Of mirrored mylar and foil,
We grew up without
And without meaning to.
We were friends once,
And listened to mirror each other's tyrannies,
Sympathetic to power,
As the political bird knows
What wind does,
And for him.
Now, there's no wind blowing.
And without talking,
There's nothing to listen to;
Nothing given, nothing used,
neocons of the heart.
The mill stops.
The power goes out.
None of the four elements call us
Friend, even the water
Borne in our eyes.
And atop our fear-dry hair,
To keep the signals out
We wear our tin leftovers from the cheap lunch of compromise,
Parrying the terrible alien-future by claiming rights,
Fencing our minds into owned property,
Into home sweet home, complete with a lawn gnome.
True, no one wishes anymore to deny health in loss,
And karma, like vending machines & classical mechanics,
Demands, Dante-esque, quid pro quo, the natural law
Of give & take & for all omelettes, eggs must break.
True, our peripheral vision is marginally diminished,
Having shrunk our eyes closer together, as if they
Were lovers moved to commit to split themselves to one,
But losing the sight of the world around us, we gain the world
In front of us, facing us like a pest to be dealt
Cards and lip and poison and food to. Out of sight, out of mind,
That is the essence of our purportedly redemptive New Testament.
Yes, we can see farther ahead, which, after all
Is exactly where we're supposedly going, not side to side
Like drunk dancers, but straight ahead over the hill
Into the great flatlining savanna acceptably hostile with age.
There we shall grow habits like shadetrees
For the comfort and neglect of our children
And our children's children, should they survive
Like true birds to rebuild without meaning
Or meaning to. And the candle of freedom's
Trauma shall light our vigilance,
Like a nest of mirrored mylar and foil,
And this reflective trash will be redeemed as home,
The place we fenced the voices out
To move beyond and on past doubt
Into the last outpost of the dispossessed
Where exile takes the home as truth and debt to repossess,
And on, further still, into the headless days unheeding
Our days of disinheritance, the nightmare of joy
We dreamed real as apocalypse.
"Fears of particular dangers, if only virtual ones, haunt the workday like a mood that can't be escaped. This fear, however, is transformed into an operational requirement, a special tool of the trade. Insecurity about one's place during periodic innovation, fear of losing recently gained privileges, and anxiety over being 'left-behind' translate into flexibility, adaptability, and a readiness to reconfigure oneself."--Paolo Virno
"All the Questions I've Asked" by Philip K. Dick
I went to the water. By the shoals were 7 tents, I put them to my back, & leaned over the water. The wind blew too hard and the water was too brown. I couldn't see my reflection. I pulled the flask & did my duty. The sun shone on a cardinal-bird's exposed heart. Dimly, the girls ran the trails. I picked up the bird. A cat did? I went home to the thing I almost wanted to call home, had a cigar, watched the game and moisturized. I had to drink a lot of water before I could sleep. Even then I woke with a desert in my mouth. I took out my journal and wrote 4 questions down while I had my morning coffee:
1. What if humans were taken over by their component parts, functioning now as conscious entities themselves?
2. What if humans were made to function as if they were components of another entity?
3. What if a computer behaved like a person?
4. What if people were made to behave as if they were computers?
After I wrote all that down was when I went to the window and saw a great plane basked in you, helpless before their closed eyes.
The sun shone on a bird's exposed heart.
And the girls, dimming like craved breeze, sparkled like an elephant's extra-moisturizing noocyte.
Till then I'm yours.
Till then I wrote with my friend Nelms this poem for you.
"Funny Friends" by Phil K. Dick
Everything's funny, or it isn't, depending.
It's funny how I care for you,
so much I won't bother you with my care, anymore, for now.
We're "grown" now, and what that means
is we can't keep each other from failing,
not because we don't care to, but because
we're too tired to help.
It's not that life is actually tiring,
We're just at that age
we're so terrified of our own ambitions,
we have no choice but to feel we have a choice,
and that that choice must be made irrevocable and now.
Look at us,
such urgent children
In the disproving face of unctuous death,
still too young to know death
is an indifferent decision
there's no right way to await,
and no right way but any ways
for life to justify.