Mudlark Poster No. 135 (2016)

from Confessions II

Poems by Anis Shivani

If I had a blue guitar, with the air 
of a destroyer, what would the mea culpa
amount to? The mean sun moves through these streets,
like spitchcock sliding out of grasp. At night 
trick cyclists charge the half-bloods of causing 
too much stress amongst the body politic.
I digress. Lolita grabbed a longbow 
and aimed it straight at the heart of motion
sickness. The mother country is a Ouija
board lit up by shelterwood paralogisms. 

Early in the morning, dressed in a sher-
wani gifted by tangerine relatives 
(unionists all), I considered volun-
teerism. A weanling still, my time (after
the wedding night) has been a mortise lock,
broken only by morphic resonance. 
If I wake up in Morocco, I go 
to sleep in Gran Canaria. The head-
master had a note for me: wipe out the
graffiti, today the lord mayor should visit. 

Then we went to learn to be mahdis. 
We ate the maguey plant, built picture palaces, 
followed the rural route, lived at the skating 
rink, owned that the ghats needed to be cleaned.
The ghost in the machine is not what you think. 
The solution is always cortisone,
say the chemists of distance learning, the 
time for galactagogues was at birth. Now 
you are old, your skin is gorse, and larceny 
will land you in Kaliningrad (ice-free!).

To accumulate (via glassblowing) 
a fungiform congregation, delighting 
in one’s cellular wit, the home videos
dedicated to homoousian melodrama: 
this only adds to the melancholy,
the slow death of the rose quartz and its sight
gags. Yes, it’s funny how your conspectus
excludes so little, how it is a blurb 
that never blushes. The end comes too soon, like 
Aubrey’s Brief Lives, or the century plant.

There is a reason the cerebrum is 
divided into two parts: Europa, 
moon to dark lines, incarnation of the 
left brain, is likewise mobile to those given 
to naches. The nagas are part rapparrees,
part sign language, but I understand only
the formal silkscreen. We are all gods, or 
coruscating birds, falcons who run out 
of finitude. The air of this fine print 
cannot break through the nestled integument. 

You see, poetry does criticize itself 
(and if the novel is dead it seems likely 
to me that people just can’t bear narrative):
said Oppen. And I think too that the mind
is by nature Nestorian, or rather the readership
of posterity (for which I write), nepo-
tism reeking through their every pore: the rank
and file have honor societies to get 
past, which they can’t, because time can only 
be frittered, it is not slow-melting tallow. 

Your ginseng death comes as news to me. I
stand advancing maxims and homeschooling 
for my nieces and nephews, Mayans next
of kin to me only in the sense of 
dull reportage. The ripple in Tabriz is 
heard far off. I am unconsummated, 
accepting the costermonger’s compliments, 
feeling ergonomic. Gracioso, they 
call me in error: massa, massa, the 
shock workers beat again the talking drums!

Some morning, take the time to observe 
the takin (deep in the Himalayas) pursue
its hunt: it takes something back, or it takes 
nothing back, just as vin ordinaire tastes
extraordinary depending on the 
idée fixe for the day. Take the time to 
teach the hired hands something of Horowitz’s
impressions, something of the orphanage
Ortega y Gasset and Horkheimer 
left behind to damn the short story’s temper. 

I do shoulder stands. You watch from the safety 
of the stellar wind, questioning my flip-
pant focal point. All I have to say is: 
“the cold wife lay with her husband after 
her death,” and then to add, “except God, who
seems a nuisance from the point of view of
Key West.” These are all facts well-known: that The
Decameron is not yet finished, the 
loving cup is empty, empty, and the view 
from the mirador is one of simoleons.

At the botanical gardens, we take 
the blue devil under the capitulary 
(not so secret), as demonology, 
for once, is not ivory black, not kruger-
rands, but marrowbone that plays on nativism. 
Not a stickler for reported speech, you 
repel thigmotropism: everything 
moves in reaction, like a corsage in 
wind, like the carnival breaking free of 
the black swan. Such a loud amen corner!

Interview with Anis Shivani on Experimental Poetry,
New Books, and How to Make it as a Literary Writer
by Cindy Huyser in The Huffington Post (May 5, 2016)

Anis Shivani’s debut book of poetry, My Tranquil War and Other Poems, has recently been published by NYQ Books. His second story collection, The Fifth Lash and Other Stories, is just out from C&R Press, and his novel Karachi Raj is forthcoming in October 2016. His other books include Anatolia and Other Stories (2009) and Against the Workshop (2011). Currently he is working on a new poetry book called Empire, a novel called Abruzzi, 1936, and a new book of criticism called Plastic Realism: Neoliberal Discourse in the New American Novel. His work, both poetry and prose, can be found in Southwest Review, Boston Review, Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, Agni, Epoch, Fence, Boulevard, Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Subtropics, Colorado Review, and Quarterly West among other places.

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