Of Systems Subject, Political, and Private

One is thinking this morning

of revolution and despotism, faltering

hands at the dashboard of an immensely

large, immensely clumsy wheeled

machine. Watching the old men

cross the parking lot to the supermarket

in an ecstatic slow-motion, as if

the electric doors will slide open

on the riches of Ali Baba’s cave.

Winding down towards the sleep

of stones in a perpetually more

quiescent rhythm, missing beats

and dropped feet. The sky

conjures motion from the black

fringes of trees, viral birdsong

downloaded on our heads

willy-nilly. Inference above

language, intuition of the divine –

perfect bullshit, at least to nodding cynics

who know that language hems in

our brains like a barbed-wire

fence. The world, Mr. Bronk – I say

gaily – is solid as you want it.




We make our own reality. We speak

a goodly frame, and the squamous facts

conform themselves thereto. At least that’s

the official line. The end of history,

triumphal apotheosis of the behemoth

Capital, has been momentarily postponed.




Once upon a time Reason, or a deity,

extended itself and grew into the shape

of history. Once there was a “tendency”

in human affairs. As we buy

our shoes, lace them up, walk

our errands across the steaming asphalt.

Kiss our lovers or children, ignore

or huddle down against

the unspecified hour. Our present

swallows all pasts into its self-contented,

pixellated maw. The future,

a child screaming for your

admiration, is uncontained.




The Emerald City, the Rock Candy

Mountain, were levelled long ago

by the bulldozers and wrecking balls

of incessant imagination. You speak

of happiness in mutual labor,

a bright future of shared

sunrises and common weal –

I’m imagining you in a thong

and garter belt. The Paris Hilton,

I believe, was once only a hotel.




Lexus lanes arouse our virtuous

class indignation, but when haven’t

we paid more coin to get there

faster? Shanks’s pony a phrase

in need of annotation, like Ruskin’s

illth , Hobbes’s state of nature,

Pound’s usura , Milton’s free will.

Those exquisite polychrome tags

lighting up the railroad bridges –

Mr. Bennett, Mr. Bloom –

are scribbles in the margin

of Capital’s black-letter folio text.




A certain sort of poet

would wind it all up

with a brisk nostos, renewing

Nestea plunge into the immediate –

the sun, unblurred by smog;

breeze unsmudged by particulate

from the abattoir or freeway;

a wee bit of cozy love, unconditioned

by the constant rain of copulation-

ready limbs on the plasma screen,

of printer-ready, skin-severing

admonitions and laws.




What we owe power, built

up in the telling, letter by

littoral, hands in the till

and finger-smudges smeared

on the edges of paychecks.

Dynamic, Greekly energetic,

power seizes us beyond intertia

and places us where it pleases;

diaphanous ridges smother

our eyes, waves edge over

our mouths to still

the crying.




The fine worked gold is hid

in a smudge of oily smoke.

Chances are few, but dance

and dance again, fuelled

by a kind of passionate

disinterest. Dance hard enough,

we’ll disinter some ghosts

of old and hidden gain,

intricate dream-work’s

final mouthless sculpture,

gaunt and cockless herm.

Mark Scroggins (© 2007)