or, as Eddie said last night to a general audience of interested persons, in order to be obscure someone else has to actually know you're obscure

It’s uselessly unhip to penetrate a machine gun and asset a relationship with modern consciousness, which is a perfectly devoured bug off the hind leg of some preserved thing. I have buried deep within my bypass a silent love for the arch of your fierce wistful squeak. I would like to spend time in a failed state with your bending frame. I notice you’ve given into apocalypse fantasies in an open fashion – I hope that works out for you, being a tad classier than conspiracy lust and less likely to wear down your comrades in sociability. I myself have returned to the civilized wasteland of the novel, wherein I begin to notice a need for detached attention to matters of will, subjugation, and something like desire though not exactly – desire strikes me as routinely out of sync with time in most sentences, as if a creeping desire, one that refuses to lean on what it means, has been abandoned by sentence and image, consigned to quiet behavior that eats at the self’s duration despite giving it flecks of purpose to decorate the larger aims of mind, whatever those might be according to how one resists being told how to think. Couldn’t the perception of rules, order, tricks, and brainwashing be more sensitively addressed in the public arena? Have we not been raised to believe we’re being fooled, so that to respond “rightly” to such conditions means choosing a side even though to choose is to consign oneself to a cycle of perpetual anger and defeat? One looks for articulations that fit a game of resistance – the problem is in the looking – I don’t think it works to plead for a voice out of the monolith to make clear what you sense, feel, know to be happening. Not “true”. Happening. I have no memory for images, not much of one at any rate, nor for names, nor the riding details of going place to place. Bodies? Yes. The hope of bodies? Yeah. But mainly the memory of feelings stays with me, possibly causing pain….well, maybe only when truly capable of being less than illogical in the face of confrontation. As a fundamentally quiet person capable of great bouts of pouring forth black and white riddance of the very notion of the unnatural, I yell on occasion to reestablish presence, to push my voice back into a quiver of no control, to get a bloodier sample of that violence against myself which is my primary hedge against treating others badly. In that sense I remain a middling specimen. I can admire a kind of comparison at times, the kind that ultimately collapses under the weight of difference’s brilliance and the hope that we may remain deeply unknowable to one another past shared flesh and wistful ferocity of experience, but that or that being going a near part to which of this by will and in so far as scrum scrum scrum…..neither pliable nor withering calamity of gack. So the task is to find a new way to speak, to tell of being, tell being to fuck off and come back with a steelier measure of lack and a kinder spirit of company, distance, pain, fortitude, in the empathetic grist rephrasing caught rides half the time, or so a speaker badly sung with vicious hook intones. Having walked through a drizzle of known blocks to arrive at a relationship with the harpy’s economy, incised with perfumed soap dispensed as cheap disguise, I am most certainly engaged to a dissolution of image, even as I wield my own anti-program in glossy fashion to the detriment of the non-familial paper push. I’m a child programmed to punish the world. No one will believe this, but its as uncynical a thought – meaning it provides no defense for anyone working against being tricked – as I can deal from the till until someone pushes a lesser button. The green lantern hoody looks applicable, the real digital-resembling rain feels applicable, the throbbing mistlets in dapper fatigues bumming for tipsy change are applicable in their corollary vastness to my curious state defined back to me by blasts of pop in some former dark Ukranian bar’s cousin. Oh, solitude as public refuge and backwards tumble through demi-historical banners of Them Who Is Alive…..these events in time as reflection of previous events in a prior time, that take doesn’t account for this amount of light. Having made the choice to blow off a lecture slated for the time period of 2-4, or when I lead something called a studio, on the grounds it was mandatory for my students but not for me, I find myself walking through Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where I lived some ten to thirteen years ago in an Italian pocket by the Lorimer St. L station, feeling as if some gnawing vitality is sheathed in plexiglass all around me, and there is the possibility of seeing some neon reflecting off the sheaths that have a passing contour similar to dust on a contact lens mixing with bastardized specks of light pretending to signal an acid recidivism, but that’s about as far as it gets, it being my impulse to be in some state of intensity or drive that has rarely even been a true encasement for my measure. Let the heart of the young be processed by the heart of the old. Let there be e-i-o and plenty kitties. Let another way be friendship, the trenchant ride or series of pop demands and nearness to the way you feel drifting forward along 4th street and Marcella’s orange line, a find-your-way-back blocks long marker I could have used leaving Eileen’s apartment at age eight, forgetting I didn’t know east from west the way I sometimes still put my shoes on the wrong feet not to mention my daughter’s, and winding up stranded in the dark of 3rd st., one block over from Hell’s Angels headquarters and the residence of Mrs. Roberts, compared rather aptly to Vince Lombardi by my father, though Sonja probably had a slightly more imaginative definition of winning. Her half-assed attempt to convince me boarding school was a reasonable idea – this really being a motivational ploy the first day of school; no wonder Dad likened her to a football coach – though it reduced me to tears, anger, lying, and utter fragility in the third floor Asher Levy hallway as she also attempted to convince me Ted let himself die (her gossipy misrendering, possibly fed by mean-spririted rumors circulating out of St. Mark's Church, of his wish to die in his own bed two months prior when his liver fatally gave out) was less fearsome an experience than the quick evaporation of my city compass leaving Eileen’s, until some kind stranger approached and put me on the first ave bus though not before loading me up with powdered candy to snack on during the five block ride to familiar terrain on St. Mark’s Place and first. Upon my shaky arrival my mother was ready to call and give Eileen the kind of hard business she was to give Mrs. Roberts after I told her about that sixth grade shakedown, but my father said no, call Elinor, who had taken me to Eileen’s for an after party for a poet’s theater production of Joan of Arc that I had a bit part in as a newsboy, call Elinor because she’ll actually feel guilty. Eighteen years later I absolved Elinor of her guilt with the words, “I absolve you of your guilt.”

Originally Published: April 16th, 2010

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...