“The districts of this [proposed] city could correspond to the whole spectrum of diverse feelings that one encounters by chance in everyday life. [….]  The main activity of the inhabitants will be CONTINUOUS DRIFTING/DÉRIVE.  The changing of landscapes from one hour to the next will result in total disorientation. [….]  Later, as the activities inevitably grow stale, this drifting will partially leave the realm of direct experience for that of representation.”

-“Formulary for a New Urbanism,” by Ivan
Chtcheglov, as translated by Ken Knabb

Safer, then, to mow with a scythe
Once syringes sprout from a city’s fringe,
Though the people in the storm drains
Know swallowing glass is perfectly safe

With a stomach full of food. When they leak
Into the surface world, we mine their bodies
For fuel
******* and art: Nudes, like mandrakes,

Await the harrow; still lives a steady string
Of drips. A head’s single dreadlock is teased
Into a purse, and the mouth stuffed with keys
And phone. Over gums, Her tongue navigates

Unhindered: “Track the moisture from
Incontinent pipes and carry me home
For the birth.”
************* Under a clerk’s gaze, Her clothes

Fade to newsprint, withdraw into
Magazine racks; what, in the 80’s,
Was the stained glass of neon, what,
In early 2000, was a pool of DSL bleeps-

And-a-whirring, now decays into cotton
Blastoma-wracked mattresses,
**************************** the AI
Artwork of the damp underground.

Soaked, Her blurry form lapses
Into technicolor for the clerk to mop up.
In the drains, a fetus scales this Mother’s
Spine, gasping through decay.

*************************** In the drains,
Sharp edges soften into soil: The over-
Turned bucket rusts through like a corpse
Lily’s maw. Fluid and vast the undercity,

With valuables and fashion unrecognizable
Amid a vocabulary of molten barriers;
In this dérive a child gestates within Her avant-
Sonder, and crowns

****************** inverted, feet
First and second and last, to clog
Tunnels as the surface world reverts
To childhood toilet training. Foundations

Relax. Phone signals and literacy all fail
*********************************** at once:
The convergence of the slouches towards
Slides by on grease as we plead for Her mercy

And comprehension: O Siri, is this bum sick
Or high. O Cortana, map of potter’s labyrinth.
O Alexa, what does my lawn
************************* Say about me.


Christopher Munde’s first poetry collection, Slippage (Tebot Bach, 2019), won the Patricia Bibby Award, and his poems have previously appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, The Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, Third Coast, West Branch, and elsewhere.  He is a graduate of the University of Houston’s MFA program and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize.  Presently, he lives and teaches in western NY.

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