GOYA COULD HAVE PAINTED THIS
Next door my neighbor
massages his car with a mass
of diapers and a fussy muscle.
Fuels it spoon by spoon
with wealthy gas to perfume its exhaust.
Works his keyed-in personality
to soothe a herd of ignition sparks.
Drives his fantasies about his doubts
as demons round a rosary.
Trees in his hands are branchless pets.
Roses succumb to the passion of fence.
He pockets blocks of deadlocked stats.
Calculates estates in a sea of distress.
Stuck in logic to secure mere fact,
his speech adds anchor to the ship he subtracts.
I would rather eat hooks and electricity,
chew a quarter mile of chrome,
than live in this slum of prosperity,
but wherever I am Mr. Everywhere goes.
Goya could have painted this
but not with a brush.
Goya would have stretched our skull
to the dull diode glow
of a Sony canvas, then broadcast
our monstrous success as Pavlovian
reflex eating more resource
to fill its abyss.
—from Rattle #15, Summer 2001
Douglas Blazek: “No matter how dramatic, facts require more than empathy to be relevant. Add them up and the sum is nothing the universe cannot rehash another way. Drop biography, and facts become more interesting. Poetry is the empathy that reveals the forces by plugging fact-flow into overview.”