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CHRIS CAMPANIONI


2 POEMS

FROM  

IRREGULAR ACCOUNTING






1. REST / STOP




To all the jeans I left at other people’s
Homes, I miss you

(Unnecessary dedications)

Cassette in a tape player a heaven
A hot tip a hard-on whenever
That one track hits & it’s
Me who is turned higher

I give good plot
I imagine saying to the one sitting across from me
But I’d be lying

“Anything,” he said, & he thought he’d watch
Anything just to get things moving
Or to make it stop

Lines written during Sunday mass:
I have come to set the earth on fire & how I wish it were already blazing

Line break that made more
Sense in the Nineties:
Trapper/keeper

A poem titled “In Decent People”
About intercourse on the Upper East Side

Lines from the article on my screen:
& now at least two billionaires are funding scientists in an effort to try & break us out of that
simulation. It isn’t clear what form that work is taking.

Lines I wish I’d written:
You see, he was a sort of camera from which a film could be withdrawn & developed. ... They did
not intend to shut him up. They intended to open him & extract the film.

Confession:
If my poems were real
Babies I’d be on The Jerry Springer Show

Confession:
I’d rather wait for something
Without knowing for what

Hold your tongue
As though you were playing the flute

Forced confession:
Sometimes I don’t want to be anything but
An object of bourgeois delight

(I was becoming unknowable)

Things mean more than what they are

Example:
You sure come far

Best question to walk into a room to:
Do you see something you like?

Overheard while eating at Taco Bell:
Nothing

(I’ve never been inside)

More lines written during Sunday Mass:
If it is only the size of a mustard seed (i.e. a period at the end of a sentence), it will suffice.

Lines I’m writing during a meeting:
Dying for having
Been discovered

Typo on a sign I’ve just walked past:
Guess speaker

(I cross out the speaker’s name)

Walking into a classroom with one stipulation for students:
You must indulge

Experiment: to preface every sentence with “technically”

He said no, please
Keep going
All we have is technique

(The trick is not to picture everyone naked
The trick is to picture yourself naked)

You have the feeling of looking at me in the cabin of a ship, during a storm. The lone window will
rattle. The magazines will fall from the coffee table. Your torso will slide across the floor.

(I recovered this while scrolling through my Notes from June)

Borges said when writers die they become books

One reason to keep reading

It might have been the rain on my face; the fact that it was raining. The smell of the rain. It might
have been all of these things.

Prerequisite role-playing

Jorge has received an email from a colleague that he has not heard from in a long time. He has been
invited to click a link to read some exciting news. What should he do?

You feel as though you’d absorbed the other, as if you were becoming someone else or something
else or as if you were each of you the other, both yourself & the other & at the same time

(An explanation for your insistence on speaking in the second-person)

Second attempt:
To lop my head off in all these photos. But it’s tiring, to handle the scissors in such a way. For all that time. Almost like holding another pose. & there’s always a photo I’ve forgotten about. Or a photo that’s forgotten me. & I am out there living, somewhere else & as someone else. Maybe they’ve even changed my name ... & it’s the thought that matters anyway. Whatever one thinks when one’s thumb is up against the face.

I hate how I look whenever I wash my hair. But it sure feels nice.

(The privileging of sensation over spectacle)

On the subject of cleansing:

Read another review of Death of Art — who says they don’t really read reviews of their own books, or who really believes them? The reviews & the authors who say this, I mean—the critic thought it was pertinent to include their speculation of my aversion to bathing. Things are coming full-circle or synchronically. I just finished reading Francis Ponge’s Soap the morning before yesterday. As you read this, I am letting the water run.*

I think people who know me get more
Out of my work. But maybe people who know me can’t
Even take the work seriously. I haven’t
Decided which

In the midst of meeting to finish the team’s report to the Dean, Rakesh logs in to a required university site & receives a message that he needs to change his password. He really doesn’t have time to think of a new one. What would you recommend that Rakesh do?

Mr. Musk spoke earlier this year about the fact that he believes that the chance we are not living in a computer simulation is “one in billions.” He said he had come to that conclusion after a chat in a hot tub, where it was pointed out that

When it happens within me, I call it “foaming at the mouth”
Unfaithful images

That I’m an instrument
Of some force beyond myself

4:35 on Thursday afternoon (October 6, 2016) emerging from the 5 train to Boro Hall to get caught in a wedding photo, turning to look at the mail order bride as the trigger probably snaps—an expression of a stranger’s preoccupation frozen for posterity, or likely, deleted tomorrow, when they’re looking through the proofs—& I know she was paid for because she’s still wearing the price tag.

Other serendipitous incidents: “Return of the Mack” blasting from the car on the corner of Atlantic as I walk past a McDonald’s.

He spoke about how the best scenario for dealing with that is a “merge”—when our brains & computers become one, perhaps by having our brains uploaded into the cloud.

(We can cut this up
Later & re-make it)

To “construct” something is also to carve the space out of it

Another line I’ll probably never write:
I’m not a character but I’ll amble about in your book

But who thinks these things, & for how much longer?

I will never be as happy as I am now. It was too powerful, too kind, too unforgiving. Because everything was possible? No, because everything was impossible. There was no longer any point. I could give up. I could give all of myself away.

(A friend’s first encounter with opium)

What is virtual reality a substitute for? Imagination
What has photography already replaced? Memory

A question I’d like to ask myself

How can you not be so self-aware
When everyone is looking at you?

If I could just amputate my mind, then
For half the day

& what I wouldn’t do
With all the rest






NOTES:

* A product of my narcissism, to believe that everything I read will happen to me, or already has. Or rather, that I myself am the text, only always the subject & object.






2. WHAT HAPPENS, OR DOESN’T



Happen to have
The time hardly anyone
Ever asks anymore, any longer I wait the more you
Love me, or seem to
The way we are likely
Looking at each other’s Photos at the same
Moment closest thing
To intimacy I can really
Think of, as I think of
The stage & scene, waiting Can be another form of death

In the interval...

A kiosk promises attractions
Two for twenty-five, three for thirty
So many people on a queue
Attracted & attractive
Bodies in a magazine
Over the shoulder
From which I am
Reading as I walk
Past Park Place slip
Down the long slide & ride
Up

                Town, further but also closer to another point of interest. Intersecting
Train lights cut like strobes in a dimly-lit, smoke-machined club. Feeling a little
Like Madonna, whom I have always secretly identified with (but don’t)
Tell anyone & who’s been on my playlist since I was possibly seventeen
Coloring my day-to-day with exclamations of being
Material & burning up—the trick to riding
The subway is to imagine no one else
Is here but you, even as your head
Is nestled in between an armpit that isn’t
Yours & someone’s
Leg has replaced your own on the edge
Of a door

Best sign I’ve seen today:

It could be nothing. Or it could be
Something. That’s how important it is.


Attributed to Officer Chin & K-9 Bishop, who
Can’t talk, at least not in English, but if Bishop
Could, would surely
Say the same (I marked myself
As safe & locked
My phone)

My favorite line from Thoreau’s diary [Volume 19]:

How long? Not long.

I overheard all of this while I should have been listening to my significant other speak, my ears cupped close to the receiver as I lingered past Herald Square—when I think I hear silence, I typically throw in a few Yeah, I knows & sometimes I’ll ask for forgiveness, say something similar to I’m sorry, I think I lost you

He had fifteen adjectives for the oysters special. He proceeds to speak for, I don’t know, thirty minutes, twenty minutes. Giving us the history of every fucking thing. Giving us the popularity of everything & the reasons why. & he starts with the oysters ... on & on. He destroys us. Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry, I don’t have a dollar to spare; I don’t even have the time. You there? So we’re there passively listening to what he says, what he has to say. & so he finishes. At some point between the oysters & some cut of the day. Some big slab of animal, who knows? I stopped listening & starting thinking about what I wish I were doing to you at that very moment. Talk about medium rare & pink on the inside. We look up & he’s looking down at us, asking us what we’re interested in.

(He looked at me & I quickly looked away, then looked back, making it seem as though I was in fact looking his way but with no regard for him, his conversation, the scuff on the nose of his loafers, the briefcase at his feet, his wrist watch, the apricot gel smell in his thinning hair, the hair itself (two black tufts descending in a wave over the right side of his face), a look like an unemployed actor & see: I haven’t seen a thing, I seem to say with my eyes that might say otherwise (he turns away). I keep looking until I eventually look past him, until I look inward & return to my significant other, which is me. Probably

I should be moving with some sense of urgency. Inserting myself into the lines of people waiting to get in to another attraction, or waiting to get in on something they’d been thinking about for the better half of the afternoon (it’s only a quarter to two). Or else they are just waiting for a signal, arrested between the pose of permanence provoked by a home screen without a window from which to gaze through. & while I wait, I’ll consider retracing my steps—forgive me for this long citation, I will not allow myself any others)

And maybe I knew how to look at a person, that exact angle to display, the way to shift the light on my face, but now I looked vacant, empty, naked ... and for a fraction of a second—maybe more, maybe even a full second—I gave them fear, and finally, like a reel offilm had been removed and I had to wait for another to be inserted, I smiled again.

“It came out so much easier than could have been expected.”
Overheard in the bathroom at the dentist office

I’ve seen three people smiling
To their phones today. No one else
I’ve walked past has even moved
A mouth

And as the face is more often than not passive and expressionless, one is
Quite in doubt as to whether they are following one or not
but I felt
Quite uncertain as to what my muscular demon-
Strations might be at the moment of transition

(from the still to the moving image, a textured form of flesh if I sink my finger in & hold hard for a moment longer)

Possible title for a poem I haven’t written:

Lover’s quarrel

& they do

Apologizing again for my lack of self
Awareness or else my hyper self-awareness
My awareness of myself & the self
I leave behind Or the reasons why
As though I couldn’t have existed otherwise Conflicted as Justin Bieber
Saying softly without intention
Of an answer
                        what do you mean? 

Nodding & smiling, smiling & nodding

I have a problem saying no & so I ask
For forgiveness or forgetting
How it felt when I felt
This, before I decided to

Say something pleasant
& other careful reminders fixed
To the notice everyone
Walks past upon entering

(I can see in your eyes how alert & aware you still are)

I confess on the phone or over the phone
I confess to the phone

(I have forgotten everything)

& still the same
Unshattered pleasure
As alive in me as ever
The body has an inability To lie
In the way thoughts do

(This is what consciousness lacks)

You nod because you know
That one mirror that makes everyone look
Beautiful. You could
Stay here looking at yourself for days
The intimacy between oneself & oneself
In the bathroom of a hotel bar
& my face
                    timed confession

I would have liked to spend
Hours trembling at your waist

Lady Somebody in London was discoursing to me on the depravity of pick-me-ups & I stopped

Right there to write another thought so fond of archiving that I want to archive the archive, which would only require another archive, & another, nothing but archives down the line, a hall of archives with a view to a kill. Like Duran Duran but better for the want of silence, sometimes, in my ears & outside of them to be completely free of these desires, or the means to keep

Producing, to rather put things off until death & be
Done with it, you know? Or you don’t
Have to be here with me, it’s your own
Choice to stay or leave so I’ve been told
I give people the feeling of being
In the presence of an unclothed being
A lot of poets
Think my poems are too
Long & I say I like to
Always have the last word

& maybe sometimes even
Hold on to it





Chris Campanioni is a poet and editor. His new book, Death of Art, was published by C&R Press this year. His recent work appears in Ambit, RHINO, Public Pool, and The Brooklyn Rail. His “Billboards” poem responding to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He edits PANK and Tupelo Quarterly and lives in Brooklyn.





2016.