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The Unruly Child

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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)
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The Unruly Child

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  • 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 layers of commercialization, violence, and literary memory. In a 2007 review of IFLIFE, poet and critic Ron Silliman said it “at first appears to be that straightforward thing, a collection of poems, but when examined more closely reveals layers of connection from one poem to the next until a close reader becomes dizzy with the vertical dimensions that can lurk behind the simplest word.” In an interview for Jacket magazine with Chris Alexander, Perelman, in an explication...

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