Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected a poem by Spencer Short for the latest in a monthly series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Lawrence Weiner, “Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky” (2011) (image via Artspace)

Okay, Cupid

Like countless others in our virtual age, I’ve called
on the algorithmic genius of unknown programmers
to crack the cryptograph of my needs [my wants?] and find me
what, exactly? Love. Sex. “To know both, keeping the difference
visible, is the subterfuge called eros.” Or not. Though
subterfuge is forgiven, perhaps, in the cheerful face
of the form’s demands: “What are you doing with your life?”

it grins. Compression is key. But who doesn’t hem or haw,
begrudge a quiet not enough as half-formed in camera
rumbling turns to rummage? My “match” will [a promise]
find me,
and they provide a flowchart “to my heart” as evidence.
Yet I’m no bargain. To comprehend, follow the arrows
that never arrive → cf. Zeno → at the heart’s carapace.
Heart’s cockles? No matter. Either way: just divide in half.

“Over a million profiles to choose from!” but what chafes
—if we ignore that preposition stood up by syntax—
is the false agency. Choose? One self-regarding monad
among many, we’re knee-deep in the primordial muck
because we are the primordial muck. Hunger. Repletion.
How best to cope with the lawlessness of such large numbers?
I adopt an Eighties workshop ethos: show, don’t tell

—hard-learned if at all—and sort glistening wheat from golden chaff.
Farewell, Kute_n_Klever. But puns play and so does Jumpin_Jax,
who loves Murakami, “exotic locales,” Matt Damon,
hates “Monday,” passive-aggression. You could glide a Buick
between under construction and under completion
and still never tell them apart. There’s strength in penumbras.
I cough up “everything,” nothing, invoke the soft, slow sell.

Still, someone floats a trial balloon—we’re 87%
matched, she notes, only 2% “enemy.” History
suggests it’s my enemies that I keep close enough
to kiss. [Cf. Seidel, My Tokyo, pg. 27.]
Messages arrive—saw-toothed, the way a market behaves.
But I lose interest, and then credit. Ever lecher-
ous, I steal a peek at the swimsuit pics, a beggar-thief.

Who isn’t? Some advice. Ignore the bioluminescent
warmth of collective need, the sense nothing is arbitrary.
Approach 0. Accept that sometimes nothing is enough.
Reject the transfinite strata of anyone else’s heaven
with gentleness. Let your wit multiply like waves.
Divide Zeno from archer from arrow from fletcher.
Court paradox. Don’t change. You should message me if.

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Spencer Short

Spencer Short is the author of Tremolo, chosen for the 2000 National Poetry Series and published by HarperCollins. He studied creative writing and literature at the University of Michigan and...

3 replies on ““Okay, Cupid” by Spencer Short”

  1. “Ignore the bioluminescent warmth of collective need…” and “Reject the transfinite strata of anyone else’s heaven…”? The literary equivalent of stepping in dog poo.

    1. If dog poo were transcendent optimism beautifully couched in the acceptance of not having, & being thankful somehow for even that experience, or if not thankful at least gentle with others, when what’s at stake is a very real human need & difficult search for genuine connection, then yes, I think maybe you nailed it.

      1. Transcendent optimism beautifully couched? Really? OKAY,CUPID misses more than one mark, but it’s greatest sin is a forced verbosity that sounds like a English major trying to impress his professor. I am dumbfounded by all the tinny sounds made by so many letters, mashed into so many words, profaning the feelings they are meant to elevate. But for those of you who like this sort of thing, then this is exactly the sort of thing you will like.

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