Photo by Jeff Sirkin




Those of us who are happiest driving alone to Target

Hardly glance at the night even near the glass


Of all those double doors streaming fluorescence it is free of allegory


I want to talk to you about happiness to stay inside it


I know the injunction

to show and share my gorgeous Greek salad


So the only resistances are to change the frame

Or stand naked in the buzz of failure


And tell it plain until the plainness leaves me loosed

At the outleaping of recursion so I know

I’m just here in a body


Like boys are sometimes falling into the gravel

Outside our window under the helicopter’s searchlight


The gravel bites through to the knees, the searchlight is a thing


No trees in the parking lot of the Target leaves no cicadas

No cicadas leaves in the quiet the Christ thing

Or a little author function to turn into, smug


Delicious melting

Into a preceding story goes a gap

And my regard


The night is one more thing to pick up, I know

How sacrifice works by substitution


But what if time doesn’t pass

And it’s always there behind the feelings


It is 1863

Stripped by the searchlight

I’m strapped onto our enemy’s horse riding against a splendid

Spinning panorama tableau


It is 2014

A private management firm runs Detroit


I just       have to run in to pick up a few things


The wisdom of the body and articulations


Of capital through time mean some things

But not others


The greatest good in feeling, say

Or a surging arrangement


The edge tolerance of a car

Falling down the hill’s paved turns

Matched precisely to its instrumentation


That’s how it starts


In the mouths and busy

Tuning wits

Of coworkers air animates


The histories where never

Have numbers gathered in common


Duress without making art


Like space wedged out at the words


Particulates powdered

And sent knocking in this air, it’s okay


Expensive hairstyles ride on it too


Right over freedom that’s been wrung out to withstand

The cant of advocates, expositors


The kind that sometimes loosens my jaw shitting


To a news video on my phone nature compels cleanliness


Imitating the dusty scrub of this valley when

Afternoon accepts the school bus yellow gilding routine


Of our good street’s

Parcels of critical difference


Or when I hear a professional’s song to catch the eye


I could ask you to let me be the professional

Working a little snot dry and fine


Tensile for new figuring like


You’re the god who knows

Mercury shifts shape, not category


Ofal, organic, decorative


Maybe those are stages of consequence


Tended, the pencil mustache

Invites the strangeness of the white face


Which blended with certain American things

Like shitting without a video is boring

The anus gives, slack jaws


Invite a fly pursued


In fable by greater appetites until death

Is a field in the ingesting body


Even the fingers on the outside greedy to carry

Oils pressed from garlic cloves


So curiously disquieting what was said


About the strangeness of the coloured races

Which blended with certain American things


Williams & Walker’s Dahomey stage show

Dance, copper, and face


Confessing the dear already known about a sway


But where were you born before that


Free radicals, the Tiqqun Collective for one

At a click past Imperium turn back


To describe Imperium’s outlines but never

Their own posed facial stunts


A thing being a position

And its grimacing


That makes the darkness a momentary solution

For what heat night accepts from what asphalt


Poured and settled around Target’s big box


I mean do those happiest in choosing

Being seen


As available to being seen

First force that condition


As someone else’s put off return to a homeland

As Dahomey stands in as the sass

Of nature’s whiteface comedians is here


As ornament is here saying, “Ultimately,


It’s the omnipresence of the new police

That has made the war undetectable”


Which is a laughter that is a type

In a set of my laughters


Each coded to an aspect

And color and charm in the pocket


This one is white across two or three shades


We are learning

Like Katakahli theatre faces are just out there

So rigorously trained


And still not being as good as this


Not so white as we are painted


To enter a next morning into a desert’s turns

Toward the sun in its waxes

On leaves and in its spines


Stammering, stuttering


“foregrounding asignification

mimicking, and parodying rather


Than simply opposing”


You see what it is


But where were you born before that


Forgive me for being so stupid

With this booger mustache so dark


Having carried a little blood at the start


I guess if you’re taken for a man, the old way

Was to say whatever men say


Louder so even dead you’re seen


In the distance you mark and redeem


Anything and whatever

Once looked impossible to countenance – a corner


Given to a young vendor’s t-shirts at Florence and Crenshaw

Come to read AIDS IS RUTHLESS.



RIP 3/26/95.


I can’t say anything after that


But just for a moment


Behind the feeling


I’m asking will we have made it – a corner

And its wits, ready


To trade attentions, not each other’s

But what’s being tended to



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I lift the claim “Ultimately, it’s the omnipresence of the new police that has made the war undetectable…” from the Tiqqun Collective’s Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl (Semiotext(e)).


I lift “foregrounding asignification, mimicking, and parodying rather than simply opposing,” from Daphne A. Brooks’ Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Duke University Press).


Rapper Eazy-E, née Eric Lynn Wright, died of complications from AIDS on March 26, 1995. He founded Ruthless Records and was a key member of the hip-hop group N.W.A.


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Farid Matuk
is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine Editions) and of several chapbooks including My Daughter La Chola (Ahsahta). His second full-length collection, The Real Horse, is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press. Matuk serves on the poetry editorial team at FENCE, on the board of the conference Thinking Its Presence: Race + Writing + Art, and he teaches on the MFA faculty at the University of Arizona.


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A dozen poets. One a month. Nothing more.