3 New Poems by David Lau

October 26, 2016  By David Lau

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


Resource Optimization


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?


Lumumba Zapata College


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.


Homelessness politicized

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.


Linati Schema (feat. Laetitia Sadier)


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.



David Lau
David Lau
David Lau has been involved in the poetry, art, and activist communities of Los Angeles and the Bay Area for the past decade. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and editor of the journal Lana Turner. Still Dirty is his second book after Virgil and the Mountain Cat: Poems (University of California Press, 2009).

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