High-Definition Refrain

The post-apocalyptic father attaches another rooftop
To the farmhouse. The soup’s on, and its hot.
The crows eye it from the crooked birch.
Envisioning a fire, the post-identity family stitches their buttons to their noses.
It’s a tribal thing. Without history. As if an unlicensed mirror
Were running the Office of Light Projection
But no one walks through the blood stained territories
Where the post-chemical thugs siphon great subsidies
For longer mandated testing. And the post-monetary bankers
Keep erasing the contents of their thought bubbles.
They know the rules:
****************************** There can be no evidence,
No record of an internal monologue or other outmoded humanist tropes.
They know the biggest swindle is the imagination,
An excruciating and invisible nest
That, like a minute infection, opens doorways
And archways and walkways into the sun—ghoulish sun
Breeding gnats and worms on our post-burial corpses—
Ghoulish sun showing an animated spider that walks across the water,
While my family coughs out their neon-flavored soup
In the post-clinical emergency room.
Would you let me hiccup in that polyester pillow?
Can we spit our imagination into this box of rubber gloves?
Can I dump our diarrhea in this overpopulated fish tank?
I clutch the scalpel while the post-dogmatic terrorist
Apologizes for poisoning the syrup in the Pepsi factory.
I’ll dice these green onions—they wither so quickly.
They’re not cut out for the twenty-four second news cycle.
I’ll fold them in quarters and drop them in the soup.
Mysterious bells are ringing. My ears have indigestion.
They form a nest covered in lichen.
Lightning overtakes the picture window.
Even the sky spews out its post-nasal drip.
The post-corporeal human analyzes the email’s transnational diction.
Even in high-definition the post-mechanized execution is uncertifiable.
The childless fish swim in the pattern of bricks.
I learned all this in Cambridge talking to a cabbie.
I learned all that in Omaha reading a book without an author.
I gleaned everything in December sealing our windows with chewed gum and candy wrappers.
The earrings glisten but don’t touch.
They poke into the ether, charmingly luminous carrions on post-human dairy farms.
They can’t restore life to the dead yearnings we harbor in the post-industrial sludge.
The best we can do is smuggle them overseas.
Patiently we pull our rollaboards up the gangway
But the overhead storage is already full.
Even the post-orchestral violinist must leave her carryon
For the flight attendant to wrap in plastic bubbles.
As it flies into the colorless storm cloud,
The entire aircraft will be blanched in an electric flash.




Nathan Hoks’ books include Reveilles (Salt, 2010) and The Narrow Circle (Penguin, 2013), which Dean Young selected for the 2012 National Poetry Series.  He currently teaches poetry writing as a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and runs Convulsive Editions, a micro-press that produces handmade editions of chapbooks and broadsides.



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  1. Pingback: Table of Contents, Issue 13 | Matter

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