Jasper Bernes

From We Are Nothing and So Can You

And then went downtown
Disguised as minor characters
Who find no end of objects
Turning space to price.
They have named something after you,
Another gaunt outlet chainsawed through solid
Paraphrase, the blunt force of not trying to hear
Scattered in lines and arcs like labor time
Evaporating in a riot.

I step out of the hotel and into the last of all possible worlds.
What reason could I possibly give?
When the lights turned back on, every inch of the city
Tagged up with equations:
 If G – N > T, then hulk, smash;
Otherwise, night night, kids.

As if again assigned to the burning system of piecework
Let out to the black mass of just-in-time execution
While you navigate the transcendental loop
Athwart overturning a cop car as “art”
And doing it where the bad neighborhood of “real life”
Abuts the state. Like everything that shits on you
A question of timing.
That’s what the state is, in the end—
An appointment book with a gun,
The days stamped onto the metropolitan
Superfice, an entire choreography of dates whose purpose is to schedule
Other dates when one’s confinement to a point in space
Cut deep into time
Will be decided.

You lost your way in the teargas one night.
Out of the burning places and back into the catacombs
Of endless work and talk, the ranked textures colliding with the force
Field emitted from the traffic lights
To produce notions of value and utility.
No wonder you just say fuck it and do something really sketchy
Or go to graduate school or get into building bikes.

As again the vats fill up with blood, with our blood
And again the amphibious thing
Crawls out of the Victorian prose
And gets all up in our face:
A mass of bloodied paperwork
Become a viscous pulp, from which limbs
Emerge, then trunks, then heads, then: the police,
Army and postal service all in one.

It’s not not believing that maims
But believing in not believing
As if it were a dim anchor
Extruded from the neutral hiding places
As if you didn’t just live here. 

Jasper Bernes is the author of Starsdown (In Girum, 2007) and We Are Nothing and So Can You (Tenured Ninja, 2012). He is a postdoctoral fellow in the Literature Department at Duke University.

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