Let Us Sample Protection Together

By Anselm Berrigan b. 1972 Anselm Berrigan
When I was little I cut off the heads
of many lords. I can’t count on the energy
that took to rise in me at will, but I’ve
strengthened my ability to make a
stand-firm surface. A steady gaze will drive
conflicted information away, back to the
abyss from whence it came, but I’ll be right
here the morning after, wracked in a
private shame too awful to admit and
of no consequence at all. I work very hard
not to let myself go. Any channel
can tell. Due process appears in beauty
and misgiving at once; an agility
borne from creative malice, a benign
insecurity. The plain truth: I forget
the curtains are open sometimes and the
hands wander. The room stares back from its things:
They understand the end of the world, will
not waste time feeling your pain, and every-
thing tragic in between need not be known.
I don’t want love or remorse to follow
I want them in the way, things to burst through
corollaries to be roped and tackled
by surprise, get killed, and thank you. One fate
transforms into another, but I won’t
touch that bandaged story. I won’t belong
to this scripted conversation, though I
may play along. Identity theft accepting
renewal orders, copycat pre-emptive attacks
an obscure murder string on the public
glide by sight, the victim a John doughnut
pining for leadership from the passenger seat.
The threat of meaning reassures: I know
it’s being made for me. Am I supposed
to believe we’re receiving information?
Can I defect back to curiosity
in the moonlight, stone rabbit? Hit on by
Echo, I go cold for the love of my
own exile, and while I hope, my flesh
explodes into an arrangement of stars
pestered by darkness. Those aren’t birds you
hear, just their corresponding holes in the sky.
All the bottled water isn’t fooling anyone.

Anselm Berrigan, "Let Us Sample Protection Together" from Free Cell, City Lights Spotlight No. 2. Copyright © 2009 by Anselm Berrigan.  Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Source: Free Cell (City Lights Books, 2009)

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Poet Anselm Berrigan b. 1972

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Youth, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Anselm  Berrigan


The son of poets Alice Notley and the late Ted Berrigan and stepson of poet Douglas Oliver, Anselm Berrigan earned a BA from SUNY Buffalo and an MFA from Brooklyn College. His collections of poetry include Integrity & Dramatic Life (1999), Zero Star Hotel (2002), Some Notes on My Programming (2006), and Free Cell (2009). He coedited The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (2005) with Alice Notley and Edmund Berrigan.

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SUBJECT Living, Youth, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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