The strategist loves one thing and that is
rage, how it looks
steaming out of his own field.
Warfare doesn’t hurt anymore, it employs,
and tactics, he says, are places
between two hills. Winds take turns.
Meaning is empty. Our book is people.
It warrants the cost
which is perform, which is tear
open as though addressed by a god—
an envelope he tears
and the strategist paints the god’s
name gold, but a name doesn’t know
words are chains of tiny cages.
The campaign suggests a place
where bodies cleave,
each part more or less insurable
according to its usefulness or
its ruthlessness when presented as a symbol.
A fist, a closed wage, a foot, a pride,
a dilated eye, a room adjacent, a womb
open to a fingered treatise
and through the slit in the curtain
we can almost vote. And he, he
could be a well’s mouth, hell
he knocked down doors to carve a passage—
it was their choice to
downshift to language.
I’m sorry, the strategist says, the executive
will take the job only
if someone as cruel as a bag of saline
fucks right here on the hot red rock.
In the window at the top of the world,
an heiress sharpens the blades of irrelevance
on the co-founder’s glacial reform
and the core expresses grave concern
for the torture of electrical components.
Words boiled alive cut the moon.
The decade erodes like a gossip column.
Sick centuries whisper
into the dark ears of parks where
votive candles in the memory of arc.
And the strategist loves one thing, and that is
the main office, its volcanic
locker under stars.
The untied tongue at the edge of garbage
where a delegation of minor royals
eclipses the torrent—
this craft, the method of
mines laid in their own path.
* * *
Jasmine Dreame Wagner is the author of On a Clear Day (Ahsahta Press), a collection of lyric essays and poems called “a capacious book of traveller’s observations, cultural criticism, and quarter-life-crisis notes” by Stephanie Burt at the New Yorker and “a radical cultural anthropology of the wild time we’re living in” by Iris Cushing at Hyperallergic. She is also the author of Rings (Kelsey Street Press) and six chapbooks. Wagner’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Beloit Poetry Journal, BOMB Magazine, Colorado Review, Fence, Guernica, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, and in The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta Press).
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.