February 25, 2011

it's nice to be liked
but it's better by far to get paid



Joseph Kosuth, untitled, 1997

The Drink
-- by Ron Padgett

I am always interested in the people in films who have just had a drink thrown in their faces. Sometimes they react with uncontrollable rage, but sometimes-my favorites-they do not change their expressions at all. Instead they raise a handkerchief or napkin and calmly dab at the offending liquid, as the hurler jumps to her feet and storms away. The other people at the table are understandably uncomfortable. A woman leans over and places her hand on the sleeve of the man's jacket and says, "David, you know she didn't mean it." David answers, "Yes," but in an ambiguous tone-the perfect adult response. But now the orchestra has resumed its amiable and lively dance music, and the room is set in motion as before. Out in the parking lot, however, Elizabeth is setting fire to David's car. Yes, this is a contemporary film.


Retirement
-- by Denis Johnson

i would like to be just an old man with my gin,
retiring even from these leaves into
my big, gradual silence beyond the wood
and it will be good,
wife, because i have pointed to you,
and you have become real, within

this darker stillness my eyes grow too wide
it must be that seeing you in the trees
becoming softer than i ever dreamed
has made it all seem
a multitude of nonsense, all the seas,
the planets, all i wrote. i lied,

i swear to you i lied, becoming old and so
very drunk, when i did not lie to you.


Orgasm
-- by Hailey Leithauser

More than mere spasm
or when focused mind

and game heart combine
as mechanism,

enthusiasm
maneuvering spine

to bliss, realigned.
More like a schism

or charmed sarcasm
at reason’s fine line,

the old soul’s design
for protoplasm’s

iconoclasm,
exquisitely mined.

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