The Unruly Child

By Bob Perelman b. 1947 Bob Perelman
There is a company called Marathon Oil, mother,
Very far away and very big and, again, very
Desirable. Who isn’t? Back connecting pure dots,
Fleecy intelligence lapped in explanatory sound
The faces make difficult.

Learn the language.
That beautiful tongue-in-cheek hostage situation:
My mind, up close, in pjs, and I use it.
Wanting to fuck an abstraction nine times in a row,
Continuous melismata, don’t stop, don’t stop, no name, no picture.

There is a series of solids, mother,
Called people, who rise to the transparent obtainable
Solo windows, mornings, afternoons,
And there are military operations called
Operation Patio, Operation Menu.

It is the individuals who finally get the feel of the tenses.
So that it may snow, has to snow on the muddy corpse.
There is a boundary, mother, very far away and very
Continuous, broken, to interrogate civilians, the self,
The text, networks of viewers found wanting a new way
To cook chicken, why not?, to kill while falling asleep.
There is the one language not called money, and the other not called explosions.

Bob Perelman, “The Unruly Child,” in Ten to One: Selected Poems © 1999 by Bob Perelman and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Ten to One: Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1999)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Bob Perelman b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

Biography

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, poet, critic, and translator Bob Perelman was educated at the University of Rochester and the University of Michigan, where he earned an MA in classics, before earning an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley.
 
Influenced by the work of Marcel Proust and Ezra Pound, Perelman’s poems disrupt sense and syntax as they search to connect body and language amid . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.