My Vocabulary Did This For Me

is blob love something that never goes away?

Bertran de Boring, Keeper of Lands, Revenues, Records, and Enrollments

This is a poem about how not to cure diseases.


So it’s been a little while.

I was a cephalophore trawling

the deep trenches where the trains go.

I had never been a big fan of

beautiful sentences.

When somebody asked me what Rilke to read

in English I said I guess don’t bother and off

went me back down the trench with

a little sashay.

There’s that element of the text that

bears a mark on it, I mean I guess

by a mark I mean

some aspect of a trench running

through it and beneath it that like

a falcon or hawk could breach

with horrible bird teeth and like

suddenly like a valve from a chute

comes some viscous black pulp heretofore

undiagnosed as a feature of the text

that nobody knows what to do with

but void

put a little in the flask

get sick

it resists facticity

falcons can’t read

it dwells someplace or other

if a hawk could talk

I’d have no reason to ever stop howling

if a hawk could translate Apollinairre

I’d say that’s fine

but inside I’d be literally dying

my example would be that part in Matthew Arnold

where his whole life was missing the point

of how sad he got from the poem

of the guy who got so sad and went down the volcano

or how much I wanted to bite off Norman Mailer’s haircut.

Someone put his whole hand in the body

and it came out chilly.

What he described he described

in the fashion of ink or milk.

When I tell you I get paid for all this,

please be nice and pretend not to believe it.

This is the house that money rents

when I put my head in the catacombs

while my whole above-ground body cheers.

Contemporary Poem Without An Economy In It

In the literature the bad maker didn’t need a conception of history

to go ahead peopling the current moment with cute, small, people

with specificities and discrete locations in the world.

One person got onto a train,

one person got thrown mercilessly beneath it.

A conception of history felt

blowsy, like an uncool object

fluttered from out a window in the Springtime,

a tacky white cloth with a black stain at the hem.

Somebody said “chaotic city+” it was

Anne Boyer

she was right. The bad maker in response said,

“furthermore, chaotic city++++++++”

Simultaneously, medievalists capering and twitching

in a separate time-zone, away from a conceptual city,

spasmodic in the highest degree in a mystery forest.

Everyone in this milieu understands implicitly

the importance of performed blood,

and leaks it with various touches of practiced grace.

Blood, for instance, on a constructed fang.

Blood on a tusk made of papier-mache.

Blood on a diamond ant.

Blood offered on a plate to an actual bird.

Satyrs lap it up. Actual, I mean,

actual satyrs.

Some important detail I don’t remember.

A charcoal cult?

That could be from history. It sounds sort of like history.

Medieval miners becoming black with objects

at hand?

A big pick-axe?

There is no Thomas Munzer University

signed or unsigned with the Sword of Gideon.

It feels important

that they cured by chemistry

deep below the earth

instead of blood-letting

which was aesthetic

and they bound up their feet to the earth

and they sank beneath the earth

which was aesthetic,

the medievalists.

One person got into a train,

And each one with a tattoo of a different pope.

This guy George Thomson

got the plague three times

the third time with a bubo up his ass

which he said was the size of a tennis ball

all his friends died

he walked from place to place

carrying a plague

and when he got home

he wrote his zine about it

a servant lanced the bubo

and what came out he said

it was black milk

awful milk

It was the traditional way of rampaging

mercilessly into the future— all as one,

with cinema blood.

People from history

with their name tags buried in the earth.

Encomium Macklemoriae

fresh sprig of whatever with an idiot haircut

who or what anyway licensed your continued existence

what’s coming down in Philly is either snow or ashes

and you’re a blatant public nuisance on your red bike

looking exactly like fucking Macklemore.

Let me sit around considering Tom Raworth about it.
I hate your haircut in part because it clearly wasn’t free.
I could have combed certain canonical poems gratis for the pleasure
of cutting off their ears but
I guess you and your shitty bike are not canonical
nor poems
nor swiftly becoming.

If only any other poem had been called “Rock drill”

I could have invented some patience

but things being as they are I remain one among numerous

glib academy morons hovering just shy of sub-normality

drooling slightly when I walk from the subway
because the air still smells like Cosi.


A person in the city is not actually necessarily

that invested in paintings.

Some are even sleeping at this hour,

some even on a Friday night.

She mentioned strong guys carrying canvasses

through the fake forest. It made everybody feel happy.

It felt great to see real muscles at work,

making fake forms visible.

A person in the forest is not actually necessarily

invested in seeing or being an abstraction.

Everybody was doing their art for the dogs.

Me too.

Infinite black wet noses

emerging from the bottom of the ocean.

Translation from Gottfriend Benn: “What’s Terrible?”

You don’t know any English

and you hear about a good new English crime novel

that hasn’t been translated into German.

You see a cold glass of beer on a hot day

but you can’t pay for it.

You have a new idea

that you can’t wrap up neatly in a line of Holderlin

the way the professors do.

You’re on vacation hearing the waves beat at night

and you’re like, that’s what they always do.

What’s even more terrible?: being invited somewhere

when your space at home is more quiet,

the coffee is way better

and there’s no smalltalk.

What’s the most terrible thing of all?

Not to die in the summer,

when the world is clear

and the soil is easy for the spade.


title from Pepys’ diary, August 11-12, 1665


I’m tired of poets acting smart in a remote and heroic and disaffected way and purchasing furniture demonstratively. No one currently active in Manhattan has an interest in my death and the Starbucks on Wall Street extends underground and you can walk there from the Oxford publishing house offices. I know this empirically, I am showing you the empirical evidence of my walking back and forth among the bodies looking for a body in a Starbucks beneath the earth. “I am as well as can be” said Pepys to his book expressing a lack of interest in forgetting to eat when alone. He masturbated in French because the theaters shut down which I read in his book. These and similar tendencies of wildly negligent somatics. I’m going to retreat into the woods and join a cabal of anti-intellectual poets drinking water out of a damn crick and eating otter bones non-stop, writing simple lyrics about object oriented ontology and ritually administering concussions to each other until we all forget every single fact about Proust. Just like that part in Jean Luc Godard’s— but there I’m doing it again, neglecting the tasks of weaponized forgetting in front of us. In August 1665 I fled the city like every other skilled artisan the weather was hot. The weather was “hot as bells.” It was extremely hot. Lacking money for lodgings and my deportment too rude for the country gentry, I spent nights beneath the hedges dreaming and taking selfies of myself with the surgeon-barbers and apothecaries. Feeling beneath the arm-pits and over the chest for tokens having read the small book about the sin of retreat. A little ways away Dutch ships sank and everybody gave a shit so loud forever. Bells ran in a particular way to communicate affect. It was a feel-good Event in the capitalized sense. The poem was about buying stuff from Dean & Deluca. I’m like I don’t even know where that is. In happier times the aldermen went to town en masse to see the opera, drink good shit, get handjobs, try on wigs. Go home in a sweat and have a dream about Lady Castlereign. That felt good— so put it in the poem. I know. I went to college too but the opera days are shut up behind red doors. That’s why I’m out here in the woods with my head beneath the surface of the water held down by comrades driving pitchforks into the base of our collective neck. I explain to them patiently: the Greek root is plaga— it means blow. Yes, that’s Greek I’m speaking. Or the Latin pestis. It’s a dazzling display of erudition masquerading as a point about consumption of which 29 in July 1665 died in Cripplesgate Parish. 21 to fever. Spotted fever, commonly confused with plague, 25. Shadowing the “death curve” of plague two, three, or even a dozen minor epidemics performing a chunky increase. It was easy to aestheticize the work of the demographers. Hacked away at the hands and at the wrists. And the shoulders. Dies ex peste August 20 but recorded in the Register as dropsy. I was warned about that before— a jagged shape pastiching the round-shouldered labor of bodies. That’s the signature sin of my hometown.


This is a part of a long poem about pharmaceutical knowledge in the 1660’s.


this isn’t my passport no

it’s a blue notebook that looks like a passport

no I’m not going anywhere

glottal sound induces fair amount of vomiting and the men at the door are ehh how shall we say, unseemly, putting my body by a team of two onto the body, ie, a wood slab carried through the streets and into the pit.

those were the men

the women were old and looked drunk.

I didn’t make note of their labor.

They observed one thing and noted another.

Proclamation of the Lord Mayor, July 4, 1665.

As stiff as any other animal,

read: organism,

He’ye any rats, mice, polecats or weasels?

Or ha’ ye any old sows sick of the measles?

I can kill them, and I can kill moles […]

I went bodily into the archives for this

and coughed and lacked heavily.

I left a material trace on valuable objects

via snot, blood, hair, actual bones.

I owed a lot of money 

so I turned off my actual phone.

In the popular literature of the time,

everyone possible appeared dead


all winter long I maintained an affection

for the paranoid style

O space craft

O needle nosed pliars

O necropsy on my doubled body

revealing black vessicles,

black copper wires, omnia

sunt comoedia


I was writing less about you all per se

than the half-articulate screeds

of the guy who got taken underground

and saw the hands of the detrimental robots

work their acronyms on actually existing language

take it up with him

I caught him fishing and raising goats in the forests

untroubled by the horrible force called “tamper”

it was like drinking up heaven

but with home-made chickens

and his car was immaculate

silver hands at the bottom of the basement stairs

silver hands folding your editor in half—

silver hands obnoxious in their absence.

I want a book deal out of it,

five forests, five thousand horses,

an immaculate car.

so pain is real, so the mangling of nerves

for free and on a whim—-

the editor moves on with his life.

He lays motionless at the bottom of the stairs

and wonders in 1963 if he’s dead yet

while elsewhere a plane drops

down into the water

so he can write about the cargo.

Jack Spicer wound up in the magazine too,

stealing corpses from the beach.

It was a big lie.

It was a joke on purpose.

on the way home

I wrote the phrase “pin the tail

on the ideology”

I fell on my back on black ice

I thought about the editor

I wrote the phrase “objet

petit mothman”

it was a way to tell the spirits how I feel

it was part of a three-part sentence

on denial.

I invented the term “poetics of conspiracy”

because I travelled back in time to do it.

Wouldn’t you like to know how.


postmarkmelater asked: Your work is unexpected and excellent. Thanks for writing.

thanks for reading!

Library of the College of Physicians

Things I did not destroy today:

Cornelius Agrippa


bzz bzz bzz



testimonies of the King’s Touch

mineral water in a vase

this hand suspended over still water

this other hand upon a sickness

one side said “Micrographia”

one side said “Micrograhpia

but only on one signature

the binding was immaculate

there were mistakes people could have made

which would have been nearly impossible to undo

the special collections librarian told me on the trolley

and was like “seminar on Hamlet?”

“seminar on amulets?”

Things I failed to destroy today:

books held up on foam

pocket sized reference book on coarser paper

respective draftsmanship in palmistry

and why did he use “ ß” to render

ingressus in that pointless century anyway?

thank you for the ride to campus

thank you for supporting SEPTA

yes I am failing in the face of the Tuesday crossword

yes I teach here

yes I am coming from campus

thank you anonymous sir for pulling

his coat-tails from the trolley doors

before inevitable death by dragging

Things I suspended in the power to destroy today:

postcard of the poem about syphilis

where the lady’s face comes off and baby angels make

barfing faces.

coffee forbidden from the archives

gloves could destroy them too

Philadelphia Museum of Embodied Fortunes

next door to Invisible Space Collapsing

200 feet from 22nd Street Station

immediately across from 7-Eleven