by zach blackwood
zach blackwood is a poet and contemporary performance curator in philadelphia, pa. he is the author of SEXY UNIQUE HOLLOW POINT (glo worm press). he has poems published in peach mag, occulum, bedfellows magazine, maudlin house, and elsewhere. he is available on the world wide web @blackwhom.
aroma decline common program
after angelica liddell / after gala mukomolova
recall the flavor of our conversations,
damp air words army-crawling over tongue,
flip it in your mouth so it lands again and sizzles
new. you can’t know anything fully until it’s over.
when i say, i have already begun to mourn
our time together, i mean what i said, i mean
i have stared through us in a long mirror, seen
you alone through windows and thought that
person looks like they’re chained to themselves
“i’ll wait for you” sounds beautiful in any accent.
recall seeing an idol in the canteen: fandom is kind
of love, but distant and performing itself. reconciling
her curling lipstick with the version of her she played
last night: beating her chest, real-wailing, “some of us
exist without ever deserving it,” and isn’t
that it? translated us fighting and not-fighting
against this wili? this shapeless nameless?
this placeless? sheer veil, opaque veil,
what matters is the weight intimating the shape.
the new work peeled imagery from Victorian Hidden
Mother Photography: the idea that beneath
the blanket, there is mother holding you
and keeping you still. in a crazy way my life
flashes before my eyes in every banal half-thing:
sneaker falling to catch a stair that was never there
and my heart do stop. and there it is: me rollerblading
or really just being dragged by a dog, affections snagging
in the carabiner earring of a boy who speaks italian
and german and french and spanish and just
smiles when i talk, and a hundred museums audio tours.
and somewhere, pinning all of it to floral sheets—
there is you, unable to grasp anything after 2009,
humming top 40 and shrugging when i ask you
the title. there’s a gala poem about your dead body
climbing up next to you, but if i look it up,
it’ll shrink me to swallow size again. washed down
by a beloved. perhaps even performance:
time-based. you’ve got to be there or miss it.
i love watching people fight in french: singing shallow
and spitting vodka in each other’s faces: it’s a threat
to throw each other onto the train tracks. i’ve been
saying that lately instead of fall on the sword,
dying gut hugging steel inside rings too familiar.
speaking of through windows—there’s a photo
by martine franck. another inside-baseball portrait
of a white master and he looks so different, skin matted
out by the oozing glass. i saw a play about chat.
that’s a reductive description: it’s a threat
for so long the difference becomes a virtuality.
it’s not a thing, it’s just closing the windows
so the day can’t wedge figures in, parking
us in my blind spot with the hazards on,
just trying to find a place we can sit still
for free. i’m wrapping my skin green
in cheap chain jewelry and chlorine halos.
i want to pray forever until the air goes
heaving pink and the particles love-flush.
so, whole plane goes wave field synthesis
until we can whisper to each other through
thick hotel sheets and distance weaves itself
flat between two warm metal plates.
my molt-white iris trained on desire
while its density undulates. a beating
heart you can move through now. instead
of the earth turning on the vamp-in-the-box,
imagine the light turning black each night:
whole days burning like white toast: aroma
as indicator of decline.
two doors in the vestibule, and i can count
every unperishable thing in that stride, that span.
i imagine myself sitting upright in my casket,
marshalling myself through slime membrane
and my childhood dog is there, barking approximations,
and smelling like a used-up citronella coil.
an object can radiate pleasure on the palm, and still
be repulsive. species like specialization like mutated:
i could be a whole pack of wild dogs under this soft
organ. you could be 1000 honeymoons perforating
a bolt of blue suede, and i wouldn’t know,
you could be here right next to me: inside
suit of swords: a matador’s inflamed red cape
riding the heat like a slouching motorcycle.
generously turned on memory spit,
golden and aromatic after raw potentiality
not a gift, but a transaction. i turn us to this,
and we move aside: burn the braid closed for fantasy.
bent over a hot toddy in socks: capacitated.
this is the sick i convince myself: peel my lips off
for. hunched to the sad dance banger
soundtrack liquid diet amnia ride. big toe
in-line, loose knee, tight thigh i feel
close to you. how do i know you're not
a motion sensing faucet
light or an object absorbing it
lol as in l-o-lucent: cocked
like most things, it’s cooler on fire
i feel embarrassing like we all do, fuming
incandescent, i just want
my ration of adoration. i had a crisis of faith once
and it felt like the rest of my crises. aren’t
all ways big bands, meaning fat circles
threatening to snap and hold rational nothing
all the same anaerobic circuit
oxidizing gums. body growing holes in its self, every part decaying
on its own time: a canon—you grow older and your parts
celebrate their phased birthdays. striated data: knives
thrown end over end, pull a hair on your knuckle and feel it in your tricep: the big learning curve
of harm and where it enters and where i keep it and i am bodysurfing to melbourne beach
riding my own skin to happy toast cafe
a gathering of men on the street is called
a “complaint”, collectively, grammatically:
gestures: a safety smile on a fake telephone call
peel a strap from a depression in shoulder
and replace it. like this is so all of us
its none of us at all. at all soft as it is elapsed
days pass with my thumb pressed down
a fingerprint drafts itself in old warmth
watch any dance and eject:
there’s so much based on this
that doesn't know it's based on this
there are so many days
i am just
the first dance on what will be called
city ballet. a bell ringing modernism into
i am just reading a lot about particle theory
trying to divide by myself until i know i am just
a memorial: a torch burning in the sink. an hour
ago i drank cold water from a stem glass
felt sexless and also
felt godless you can feel 2 things on top of each other
such that their causation becomes mutual
like two balls of clay in the dark,
you might reach for one and feel the true of neither
might reach for a partner and find a white terrorist
in philadelphia. i'm in a meeting about something
and a man says "really all we need is power"
he means a socket, like something to plug in to
but he means for free, or for me to pay for it.
that's heavy-handed because it is true.
Clean & Clear: that's my great aspiration:
translucency. i want my whole body
poured unassailable. i want to be cough syrup,
bright primary color: half-decanter, half-vessel,
half-dependent on the hand
a liquid sculpture to firm earth
describing god as a kind of whorl
describing god as cauliflower ear, there
are whole rooms architected for lucency, for confession.
there are high ceilings
where god can hear us, there are soft chairs
god is here in spirit. in every stitial. thhink
about a schoolyard: you think the song is
about feet but it’s about the ground, about
it bending under.
another radical white queer is borne out
again as gay porn star reply-guy, falls right
out the twitter bird's snotty little
nostril, implied eyebrow tweaked like a pert nipple,
as pleasurable as it is desired or asked for. these men
fall from the sky with their feet pointed,
with their sharp toenails growing out their jaws,
still hungry if they’re just pressing us flat
i leave a roomful of gasping breaths
and wait for my skin to dry. i check
my dm requests and they're a cylinder,
as in revolving, as in chambered.
like i finally know what to do in silence.
care is not a thing you do to me
in spirit, in essence. in absentia.
in this essay i will convince you
there is a wound without blood,
without pain, skin healing without cartilage
a hole you feel as a solid vacuole
your earlobe is changed forever
your earlobe is changed forever
and still is as vapory and subjective
as an earlobe