The Window, The Alley, The Criss-Cross Motion

Three New Poems by Albert Mobilio

June 1, 2016  By Albert Mobilio
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These three new pairs of poems by Albert Mobilio are rare instances of artistic demolition and poetic erasure aimed inward. Artists and writers have long appropriated materials from the world, including other artists; our fading fad for erasure poetry yet another example. Often, the concept is all that matters and the source material is readily trampled upon. The concept at work here, one is happy to report, is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the poems themselves—in which each ‘pair’ is a truncated, redacted or reduced, entirely new version (or anti-version) taken from the text above. One thinks of the gorgeous ravages of Rosamond Purcell’s art—where books, dice, herring bones or other primordial bits of natural and manmade materials are set to fester, linger, auto-destruct (the image above is from Purcell’s Bookworm, from W.W. Norton). Yet Mobilio, like Purcell, isn’t after the cheap trick of chic ruins or easy implosion. (For me, the destructive impulse, even as “art,” tires quickly.) Instead, the poet has found a constraint that interrogates the finished original, and demanded from it a lessening, whether sibling or offspring, a sort of mental rhyme (or not) in dissolving form. A patient composure counterbalances the chaos of erosion. So the reader may judge for herself, even as the poet, musically and mysteriously, already has.

–Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor


 

The judgment scene

 

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The judgment scene was laugh-track time we sought

tension between pulsing, neon bodies, their betrayals

oral & otherwise scary was the sense that human

touch was nothing more than loud more loudly

nights when trouble means an open mouth,

its portion divvied out to words so different from

each other you can’t circulate one noun among

 

Some god-forsaken spot men pulled their faces

toward then turned their faces back the way

they’re made we get the point—the window, the alley,

the criss-cross motion—no one wants to travel

unless the shoulder dips, the hand repeats

whatever hitch-hike works & straight again you

see that roman wall the higher up it goes we’re true

 

In the future our souls as thin as TV shows we wreck

the air for disembodied, snake-shaped sounds,

they fill the auditorium & feeble love

is nothing we can add much to except we can

make lists of what deserves to die & other numbered

fates bare-headed days allow

this span of glossy instants clocked & deeply rung

 

the scene

 

 
we sought

bodies, their betrayals

the sense

was nothing more

 

an open mouth,

different from

each noun among

faces

 

the way:

the window

no one wants

 

the hand

works & you

see it goes higher up

 

souls wreck

the disembodied

love

 

nothing much, we

die & other numbered

fates

this instant deep

 


 

In the midst of this widely unread

 

 

In midst of this widely unread life in the line

outside a washroom where truly we are as hollow

as our own confessions those shaken

out of us by close reading tomes about the middle

ages the sun darkening for a dying pope & wintry

crowns jeweled with groans we wore our sexual

sorrow to warm the indentation left in bed

 

If you wait long enough songs come they have

momentum that shows itself amid shouting as

the ambulance arrives we called

ourselves skyward rising through bluish haze,

the ignorant mouths their nouns around

us—winch, tube, carpet, hive, hiatus—altogether

unreasonably dense these sirens find their mark

 

The point of philosophy was saving whatever

face we could in this otherwise incurable

land its spat out river, smudged birds & fingernails

dirty with perplexities we strummed slick

smells from our hidden parts the breath glistens

like fresh meat cut, splayed & left for flies we brought

our wrath to perfection so it might finally end

 

the midst of this

 

 

unread line

hollow

as our

reading about

the darkening, dying

groans we

left

 

songs

amid shouting as

we called

skyward, haze

around

us—altogether

dense

philosophy

 

otherwise

muddy fingernails

we strummed

the breath

we brought

to perfection

 


 

This dancer is out

 

 

This dancer is out of step with that one whenever

the mood makes you wish you

weren’t as devout as you are your mental

equipment dependent on bread, smokeless cold

& brooms come home to roost in hairline

cracks only visible when close enough to sense

the empty knell our puny human strike allows

 

The nightfall was beauty was strange in its hills,

its desolations penciled on scrap paper,

letters to ancestors & you have become over

aware of mouth movements their history

bursting with cell block scenes & mispronunciations

of dirty words the sleepless camera’s

focus pulling back though the actor isn’t pleased

 

You bring money & show off your face & opposites

attract indifferently but that’s the loneliness

of sand that’s nothing to me & thoughts

by the millions go begging, truly an exalted life

you’re giving yourself to the agitated air,

smug boots & mock sensation: who are your gods,

are they the ones that fight the daytime’s fire

 

this dancer

 

 

step whenever

the mood makes

 

your mental

smoke

come home

visible to sense

the empty human

 

nightfall was

scrap paper,

you have

history

bursting with mispronunciations

 

dirty, sleepless,

pleased:

show opposites—

that’s the loneliness

 

of nothing & thoughts

exalted

 

the agitated,

smug gods

are fire

 

The featured image is from Rosamond Purcell’s Bookworm

http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=NT179




Albert Mobilio
Albert Mobilio
Albert Mobilio is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award. His books of poetry include Bendable Siege, The Geographics, Me with Animal Towering, Touch Wood. Games and Stunts, a book of short fictions, is forthcoming from Black Square Editions. He is an assistant professor of literary studies at the New School’s Eugene Lang College and an editor at Bookforum.









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