These new poems from David Lau’s just released book Still Dirty are not so much the static within the sound as the plangent flood of noise and distortion that now render most of our technologies, like that of language, indistinguishable from any insular intention or signal. And yet the poems are not cynical, ha-ha shrugs given the presumed farce of postmodern communication. They are in fact quite odder, and more disturbing: acts of faith still alive in a post-globalist landscape of mass deportation, economic and ecological collapse. Admittedly, it is a dizzying faith in language, one that admits for disjointedness, sudden transversal loops from French cinema and rap to dying workers and an anime marathon. But I refuse to believe these signifiers—decontextualized or, perhaps, hyper-contextualized in the internet-reality sphere through which they reach many millions of us—don’t add up for 21st century readers. Like the art videos of Hito Steyerl, whose Lau’s technique of instant overload reminds me of, the players and stakes of our consumer capital new international still seem to be blatantly, frighteningly clear. A line, for example, that could be (and is) burdened with semantic possibilities: “I had seen the edge of global shipping’s blast radius” takes on only sharper, more than biting saliency given the string of associations that follow: Afghanistan, unemployment, agriculture. These poems demand to be reread and galvanize our attention about as much as present reality requires the same; which is to say, absolutely.
—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor
In a dismal investment environment
the roots of the changed present’s class life—
Little Shanghai on the LA river—
miles of mermaid stories,
the façade street-level shadow of a youth prostitute
with the back alley club’s alcoholic tremors.
The masses rise through
video diaries, the cinematic
stage of maquila workers
then so too reactions rise in the incipient
life of social forms,
practical exercise for the militant
automation of the specimen market in port cities.
The Libor-rigged world over-
turns the benign nobility of a general Keith
Alexander. Tag gone from the shirt
in that blue digital daylight on your shoulder the window
sin barras the resolutions of your knot-
ted busy inventions groove
insurgent and everlasting
thunderclap in an exilic girl.
Sippy hadn’t thought this one out but he now needed
the epistemological Geiger counter
he’d left behind in New Mexico.
Aligned with struggle but also what the fuck that plane?
Free Poncho, may he not face ICE deportation
here today at Collegio Nueve.
Probably a blended Zapata Lumumba
Facebooking all this shit, computer running hella fan.
“This are an active cantinas,” he said.
“Cantinflas,” yelled the tweeker grom.
System moderator, hello? I have a legion,
whistles a good alert system.
Ya llegamos al campo de la batalla con botnet.
last night late summer on a Santa Cruz farm:
what will the land mean mad farmed
singing like the future Lauryn Hill?
A tuberous, fennel infused sofrito —
I don’t have seen my critics.
Finally a passage through the breaks deploys the self-protective rhetoric of an innovative pres-
ent, surprise buoyed by sickness. We were somewhere in the dust/ash clouds stirred by parox-
ysms of a wounded Sunbelt hegemon. I had seen the edge of global shipping’s blast radius.
I wrote some songs for a woman leader about a world of new things. Marjah is a citied village
in Afghanistan, the site of American-led raids. Gypsy like this. Have I long? “San Leandro don’t
have it going on like they have it here,” she said, taking a break from the dance floor. Like
First line of urbanized unemployment—a classical one: lost access to land as a consequence
of the green revolution in agriculture. Some suggestion of war as an unfinished, Hegelian line.
Godard example had been a quotation from Dre, which is either intense or whispered. I don’t
know how Chris Daniels translated it.
These dying-disappearing-becoming-workers / peasants “support” Breathless; so Warren G’s
influence strange, vast anime marathon a friend showed me, some dominant painterly blue
when to outstrip thy skiey speed scarce seemed an old problem in the countryside.
These dying-disappearing-becoming-workers-former-peasants “support” Prachanda (“fierce
one”), Maoist leader of Nepal where a recently established republic comes after a long armed
struggle, the people’s movement having displaced a monarchy.
Text mage / part 2 Brecht / a peach’s Argonaut
“Personnel-Mart,” whispered Chris Chen.