Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Day #1102, Daniel Borzutzky



I cannot hold on I see myself shrinking. I see the waves absorbing us. They are so much kinder than the sinking city. The waves want us. The collapsing city does not. It spits us into the screaming basin. An authoritative body asks us how much grit we need to survive the dormant police-state-austerity-regime. We are drowning. We are searching for light. We are searching for posthumous sincerity but all I can hear is the broken testimony, the poetry of the infected lung. The poetry of the drowning mouth. The raw bits of shithole life that keep crumpling up in the wastewater.


And the lake foam is like plastic justice. The foam is an amorphous cage. It is the bluff, the code, the last verb she spoke before she was tossed into the privatized sinkhole. The privatized sand is weeping. The privatized lake is petroleum (again). It is gurgling. It is exploding. It is asking us to follow the route it has established. This way to the end of your amorphous privatized cage. This way to the wound-channel the earth cannot swallow. And we dance this way. And the lake vomits out its God-waste this way, vomits up the oil-slicked sturgeon, the rattling death-breath of millions and billions of minnows.


We fight for our bodies and we hope for a quiet battle. We do not want to die alone and we pray for invisible consolation. We do not covet the protections they do not offer us. 

Daniel Borzutzky is a poet and translator who lives in Chicago. His most recent book is Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018 (Coffee House Press, 2021). His 2016 collection, The Performance of Becoming Human won the National Book Award. Lake Michigan (2018) was a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. His other books include In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015); Memories of my Overdevelopment (2015); and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011). His translation of Galo Ghigliotto's Valdivia won the National Translation Award, and he has also translated collections by Raúl Zurita and Jaime Luis Huenún. He teaches in the English and Latin American and Latino Studies Departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Three Poems, Giorgia Pavlidou

 a necromancer’s advice to baudelaire
exit your corpse 
eat up your organs 
massage your coffin  

rage rage rage 
rage against the fire
inside the ocean’s sarcophagus 

commit suicide in the desert of love
listen to the sound of the end of desire

tell us about your life as a transcendental vampire

serve your tongue with an exquisite french sauce 
dance with the dead at the center of the sun

slam to punk rock music during your funeral 
paint a cross with the bile of bats

swing with deceased shamans on saturn’s ring
peel a smile from your face

twist and shout with necrophiliacs in a swirling vulva
rewrite the tibetan book of the dead

lure dead mermaids with the smell of zombie-genitals 

pray to your oldest fetal ancestor
sacrifice stillborn eunuchs 

& make love to edgar allan poe
like a beautiful dead woman
at the last zero point of eternity 

electroshock therapy for the climate



this was before the pandemic

before gastritis              constipation            heartburn      strange headaches      burning joints


i still masturbated back then             compulsively of course


that was the best part


this was before the 45th president

back then my stomach tolerated german beer        zinfandel      french champagne   exquisite

belgian chocolate     


what a beautiful time it was


during this edenic era           i loafed around dharamshala     the town in india where the dalai lama lives


i stopped at a sidewalk café in mcleod ganj     for a drink or two


sipping from my margarita           i overheard two young men talking

their dark bristly eyebrows told me they must be from israel      dharma bums of some sort


thoughts are like clouds

they come and go

one of them said


they were drinking cannabis infused bhang lassi

& munched on what i imagined to be gluten free falafel


waiting for my third margarita        i reflected on their words

& thought to myself:


if this climatic metaphor holds up

may we then assume

that emotions are like rain?

if so what would the emotional equivalent be of drought?





the dharma bums left            & after four or five           to be honest i don’t remember how many margaritas               after all       we’re in 2020 now             this was before brain fog   glucose intolerance     high cholesterol     borderline diabetes       acid reflux            gluten allergy 


i still watched porn back then             compulsively of course


that was the best part 


i left my café looking for chocolate          belgian or swiss i didn’t care     as long as it was bitter & black


i headed towards the kalachakra temple       the blackest & most occult of buddhist sanctuaries


sabziwalla there close by           sold my favorite imported pralines


probably because the month was june                      it so happened that on my way 

i overheard two passers-by                                           tourists perhaps from bombay or new delhi

one had a big moustache         the other was almost bald:


it’s the second year that the monsoon rains

may not come at all

one of them said



a masticated chunk of chocolate       was gliding down my throat    while i reflected on their words             thinking to myself:




if the monsoon rains are skipping years

may we then assume that seasons can run off?







2012: endoscopy

2013: colonoscopy

2014: proton pump inhibitors

2015: one gallon of water per day

2016: federal elections

2017: gluten intolerance test

2018: lost 45 pounds

2019: spent a year at a monastery






this was during the pandemic            after federal elections      


doing caca had improved                   zinfandel was a thing from the past


strange headaches                          had turned into normal headaches


i had exchanged masturbation for meditation 


& compulsion for compassion  


         but was this the best part?



during this post-edenic era              i found myself wearing a mask


sitting at a sidewalk café                         somewhere in hollywood

sipping from my cup of licorice tea


this time i overheard a voice in my head:


now you’re the dharma bum!



judging by how i smelled                     i think the voice was right


you know that thoughts are like clouds, right? the voice continued


reflecting on these  words        i looked up to the sky & thought to myself:



if this climatic metaphor holds up

& it’s raining less and less

may we then assume that the sky is constipated?



the next moment more questions flooded my head:



if there’s an increase of both schizophrenia &

people born in the wrong body

may we then assume that the climate is into drag?

is the climate hallucinating?

is the weather traumatized?

has the climate turned bi-polar?

are we sexually abusing the oceans?

does the weather have an existential crisis?

has the climate become sociopathic?

is drought the climatic equivalent of burnout?



feeling haunted by constipation & these questions            i ran back home as fast as i could     


i had to use an enema             


strangely it rained the exact moment i relieved myself



musing over this weird coincidence        i thought:


thoughts aren’t at all like clouds

they aren’t like foxes either, Ted Hughes

thoughts are like termites

they run amok inside my head

competing to swallow up not only each other

but also my pen      the hand holding the pen      my words    my sanity  

my sleep     my bowels    my muscles  my nervous system   my neurotransmitters

my tongue

this page


content with having finally voided my head        i cleaned up my enema          took a shower             wore clothes again


back in my living room       i looked outside of the window          the rain had stopped          


there were gorgeous cloud formations

a marvelous rainbow roofed our community                                                  


this definitely was the best part

“the body is not fact of nature. like gender it is produced by discourses”

-judith butler

the one true body

“let them hurl a thousand curses at me

pain finds no purchase in my heart

i belong to shiva”

-lalleshwari (1320-1392)



think of a mute body bursting into flames the moment it looks at you

a body like the one i drag on my shoulders

even in sleep

especially in sleep

at night

one particular body smiles at me


its head wears a worn-out hat


other bodies sleepwalk in my direction

bodies woven into my matrass

fondling my groin

fondling my breasts


(copulating with the dead truly is “out of this world”)


hundreds of decomposing arms

thousands of decomposing fingers


pointing at a brick house

at a prison

with only windows

with almost no walls

with only doors


dying limps programmed

by someone else’s memories

by someone else’s desires

by the memories of my dead

the memories of the excommunicated 

by those who were forced to speak a borrowed language



listen carefully 

these bodies stand firmly behind the body synthetic

behind the one true body and sing


hundreds of thousands corpses march-march-marching

stomp-stomp-stomp and chant

hear hear:

the stomping of marching corpses wearing swastikas

stomp-stomp-stomp-stamping on my name


stamping on my body

this is also your body

 this is also your name

we share this name

we share this body

we share this swastika

like a word being pulled through me

like a body being pulled through me


like a body pulled through another body

like a dead body pulled through my dead body

like a poem bringing news from the edge of being

like a metaphysical phone call to lalla asking her:


lalla, you searched for your soul inside your body, but

what did you find instead? 

Originally trained in clinical psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, Giorgia Pavlidou is an American writer and painter intermittently living in Greece and the US. She received her MA in Urdu literature from Lucknow University, India and her MFA in Fiction from MMU Manchester, UK, (though her meetings with visionary LA poet-philosopher Will Alexander have been and still are exceedingly more impactful). Her work has recently appeared in such places as Caesura, Lotus-Eater, Zoetic Press, Maintenant Dada Journal, Puerto del Sol, Entropy. Additionally, Trainwreck Press (trainwreckpress.com) launched her chapbook inside the black hornet’s mind-tunnel in 2021. Ireland-based Strukturriss Magazine selected her as the featured visual artist of their January 2022 issue 3.1. She’s an editor of SULΦUR online literary magazine. 


Memory arrives as a pin to hold the tethers of compulsion. In this hemming of excess, the image is always error. I tell my therapist I came to speak the honeysuckles that muffled the different octaves of our bodies, or the pouch of glass marbles—my fascination with the multiplicity of their worlds, to be the one perched above, onlooking. To watch them roll away. Of course, this is a lie. I tell my therapist that I have always lied, that always means sometimes, that sometimes I forget, that I forget—that I always, always forget. The hour is stitched behind us, our time up already.

Stephanie Kaylor is Reviews Editor at Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She is completing her PhD at UC Santa Barbara, and curates the Sex Workers' Archival Project. She lives in Brooklyn.

Two Poems, Michael Lee Rattigan

Ways of Listening


                A jolt arcs the body, stuns the heart.

Events witnessed while unconscious –

                                          “too shocked to be scared.”

Living green streaming in all directions

              impossible to spell out.


A wave’s wash – the view shifting to a corner


                 in the space between.

Flowers on a sill vibrate across, while footsteps

                   at a distance are heard on sight.

Unbound beginnings skimming the sea-gold grain on a windless day.

A door opening inwardly through twice-spoken tears


                                                           into the mind.


A bellow for the breath –

    two shocks short of balance.

A line sown into place.


An aureole blur,

the cadence of a man’s step –

                                     “whoa buddy.”

Conversation, out of earshot about a tree never seen before.

A child fussing over the toy

                            knocks down a wall in perception.


Two doves outside the window peer in and pace.


                                        Fly off moments before the horn.


Branch broken on the threshold,
making sense to no one else – 
a temporary gateway. 
Feeling breath on the face – 
a humming of the blood’s 
metallic strength.   

An elsewhere here,
where another constantly follows
calling one’s name…

A thrice-heard voice 
amid the dust from bullets,
marking life.

As near to where one stands
as the seventh heaven’s    
source of belief.

Shining in the shadows
of an exile about to end,
pushing toward earth.

Not explaining “here” and “hereafter” –   
a wave sculpting the rock 
it wears away.

Michael Lee Rattigan (Caterham, UK) has lived and taught in Mexico and Spain, and translated the first complete collection of Fernando Pessoa’s Alberto Caeiro poems (Rufus Books, 2007). His first poetry collection, Liminal, was published in 2012 (Rufus Books). He contributed to the Selected Writings of César Vallejo, published in 2015 (Wesleyan Press). His latest collection, Hiraeth, was published alongside its French translation in 2016 (Black Herald Press).