Two Poets — Ed Dorn & Sean Bonney


Ed Dorn

“He knew that just to wake up in the morning is to be political.“ Jennifer Dunbar
“No poet has been more painfully, movingly, political“, writes Robert Creeley: “the range and explicit register of Ed Dorn’s ability to feel how it actually is to be human, in a given place and time, is phenomenal.“
“Ed Dorn (1929-1999) was born and grew up in Eastern Illinois, on the banks of the river Embarrass (a tributary of the Wabash). He never knew his father. His mother was of French-Canadian ancestry, his maternal grandfather a half-Indian Quebecois railroad man (“master pipefitter in the age of steam”). He attended a one-room school, and while in high school played billiards with the local undertaker for a dime a point. “Brought up off and on during / the intensity of depression nomadism,” he followed the wandering work-searches of his several “exodus relatives” down “bleak grit avenues” of a childhood whose anxious, difficult instruction, though he was always shy of speaking of it, never ceased to underlie and complicate the moral and historical vision of his work. Images of vulnerability and displacement in his poems project this. In a late poem called “Tribe” Dorn declares an explicit identification with the plight of refugee Kurds, relating their exposure before the imperial contingency of “wholesale helicopter gunships” to his own autobiographical family recollections: “My tribe was lowdown struggling day labor / Depression South Eastern / Illinois just before the southern hills start / to roll toward the coal country / where the east/west morainal ridges / of Wisconsin trash pile up / at the bottom of the prairie, socially / a far midwest recrudescence of Appalachia . . .  I’m as proud of my tribe as if I were a Kurd.”“ Tom Clark
EFFIE MIHOPOULOS: Do you view your poetry as political poetry?
ED DORN: Absolutely. It’s my way of voting early and often.
EFFIE MIHOPOULOS: Political poetry can often veer into diatribes or dated nonsense. It was interesting in your comments during your reading at Northeastern that you said about selecting the poems for Abhorrences that you had to throw out a lot of them, because, “It was just trash.” How do you distinguish between writing poetry that’s true, but still has a political message, and political vehemence?
ED DORN: I think, in the case of Abhorrences, the standard there was rather overwrought and a little too vicious and a little like really getting a knife in. But then you could look at this and say, “But actually, the knife’s into what, when it comes right down to it?” You’re not separated enough from it. So I tended to choose the things that got off a little bit, lowered the temperature on things, got a little bit cold, a little high-minded, a little superior, not too involved. That would have been the kind of things. Therefore, less messy. A lot of stuff was just like this was spinning around some kind of pointlessness or it’s a rant pure and simple. One of the things about political poetry is that you have to sort of imply to the reader that this is a rather intimate situation in which I’m going to say something that’s rather stiff to you, and you’re going to like it, because actually you agree when it comes right down to it. You sort of have to have the kind of–you just have to feel how you do that in a poem. It’s presumption, but it’s with a kind of presumption that you can’t offend the reader with or alienate the reader into saying, “Wow, that IS a presumption.” You have to include the reader.


Song: the astronouts
for clair oursler

On the bed of the vast promiscuity
of the poet’s senses is turned
the multiple world, no love is possible
that has not received the
freight of that fact
no wake permissible that has not met
the fluxes of those oceans.
the moon orbits
only for that permission.
Men with fine bones in their heads
will manipulate a recovery
and put spades into her
only to find Euripides went before them
the hymen long ago fixed
it is an old old wedding
but as you dig you will not hear
the marriage flutes
you will be killed in your sleep.
you will be considered pirates
and killed when Hymenaeus
(who lost his voice and life
singing at a wedding
catches you asleep
in the rushes of
the windless moon

the immensely soft glow of it
will always be behind you
as you stand on its face
at the strangely
inhabited world
from whence you came
from where all men with their eyes
have been satisfied

before thee


Inauguration poem #2

3. Augury

The blood does not flow from a red vein
as Lawrence through Cooper had it,
and it does not flow from a pale, beautiful
and white vein, as Wyndham Lewis had it, and it does not
flow from a black vein as Malcolm X would
have it, the blood does not flow at all.
The land is stained, and it is true
it is stained black, because black is active,
red, the first color of that stain, before black
has washed out and sunk into the ground
and now comes up secret, inward, resistance
where Lawrence was perceptive,
and the white parades, Sousa, where Lewis
with his pale mystic articulation was perceptive
being blind to the throb of black,
but it is all stain, not flow,
black has a gloss, black must have white
black dies without white, Mao is too asiatic
and pure, he can not see across
either the largest land or the largest
water mass he is surrounded by, purity is
his world, business, the chinese business man,
the chinese gambler, the chinese fucker, they
do it, quickly, many many offspring, mass
mass the morass of being working blending, mass
they have no stain, america is stain, the stain
of the west, black and white will blend, obscure
the edge, we shall all fuck that edge away eventually
we so desire each other, the red is oriental, lost
in his most recent place, black and white are the new
camerado—enemies hanging together in every room
in every gutter and A-bomb site every cheap hotel
every penthouse, in the mines on the plains and in
the pumping heart-cornfields of america, every thing
in america is american to a virus, blood spilling
the german blood will not spill, nor the pole
nor the mexican, not italian, not the old previously spilled
no one white kind with the black


will return

to the East, via the west

on a landbridge rebuilt

past Diomedes

where they will run cattle or spanish horses across siberia
the last of the primitive people in the world

who can go home

“How do you think it feels
When you are speed-ing & lonely“


The reception

I am not amused by
your speech
don’t grate my ear
with thin brilliance.

And stop spitting peanuts
into my drink
as you say you adore

The new script of
the rising internationalism
of which you are a part
shall forward itself on
artificial cognizance

while the old ignorances
having been forgotten by you
will remain as a smoldering
to consume you in future
esoteric studies and evaluations
beyond your reach.

In that time when all
have moved off
and the new debts
are payable, the new mortgages due
a sizeable population
will know
as a huge parent
attention! Kill them!

then when the new drifts
have set
as usual upon the old—
you with your tears will be
bewildered no more then
than now, a simpering preliminary
to peace, russia and america
dated bigleaguers, the baldheaded
men in your stands will crush
their popcorn bags with elation.

O advice
I would give you none.
Hot August 1962
the beautiful double menace
of the gorgons rest
at the edge of each mesa

though the one mortal one
of that triumvirate
has been killed
she the most beautiful
mass has killed you
none of you can be the other two
with their tongues out
the mighty
and the wide wandering.

The Arco desert, humanity,
might be Phlegra. Do not
accept the helmet which makes
men invisible.


Song: Europa

Red wine will flow
sadly past your lips, and leave
with fullness their parting
october is orange
with desolation
the mountains are abandoned
each winter sunset
to those cruel marks of red
or whole lines of remote ranges
lit of desire for you as they recede
toward oregon

Nothing will happen.
The brutality of your frankness
has come to me
inches at a time,
and so slowly the pain marches
through the veins of my soul
with the heavy step of a migrating herd
tramping out the vintage
Evening is
that closing part
of you I sometimes hum as a song to myself
looking down the street through my fingers
through the wreath of myrtle

with which you have embellished
my horns

I call with the thick weight
in my throat
over your terrain
O she is a small settlement, there
she is an atmosphere
and we are above it all
under her white gown
and against my bare shoulder
snow flakes fall
a slight scent of ginger
fresh in the wind
of our trip to Knossos

Geography (1965)



The cleft in our ages
is an echoing cañon—look
I insist on my voice
Archeus become my life
and as any other extension
not to be ignored—
if you were my own time’s possession
I’d tell you to fuck off
with such vivid penetration
you’d never stop gasping
and pleasure unflawed
would light our lives, pleasure
unrung by the secretly expected
fingers of last sunday

Do you hear me, can you
please only agree with me
because poems and love
and all that happens in the street
are blown forward
on the lightest breeze



The question is not to you, you know
the indisputability of the soul
do you know where we are now
do you know the platform any more than
I arrived at the same time one september
what was crossed
is still crossed
and the agent’s dark eyes
burn from the dark short past
represent, handles the claims
of those we over ran
and they scream with their
fixed smiles
for satisfaction
do you know where we are now
from my soul I want to know
from my beginning in and out
within me
and now returned home
from somewhere abroad
on the second day of april
with the snow



The agony is beauty
that you can’t have that
and sense too. There
is no sense to beauty. It offends
everyone, the more so
in ratio to the praise of it.
And I’ve known this for a long
time, there has been no
great necessity to say it. How
really, the world is shit
and I mean all of it.

Twenty-Four Love Songs (1969)


The Protestant View:

that eternal dissent
and the ravages of
faction are preferable
to the voluntary
servitude of blind



Lite Gulag,
the poverty industry
takes off—24 April, ’89

The Sin Casas

Capitalism in action
Open prisons in the street
The creatures of the vents
& cardboard coffins
Packing-case sarcophagi
Not awfully permanent
But better than the poison sky
The pool of the puking
Lorded over by the AIDS barons
Moved on by the Keepers of the Tedium
The props who are supposed
To make the minions cringe.



Gimme a break on
Korruption, it has
replaced Apple Pie.
31 May, 1989

When Values Get Relative, Value Gets Going

The worse John Power was,
the better he got, sawed-off,
virile little fucker, everything
“america“ admires, everything it wants,
and everything the rest of the world
sends up, and everything said
hemisphere deserves, he exemplified.
I, personally, aside from my better Judgement,
didn’t object to him that much. Of
the Rip-offs on the menu he was
at least trying to make an honest buck
out of Arms & Munitions—at least
that’s traditional, since we don’t
manufacture anything else now—and it Is
a fair market, the appliances of death
must be the same as stupid chips
everybody seems to think they need
to replace their so-called brains
now disguised as blue to cover the green.
Drunks, secret smokers, Paper Robber Barons,
importers of cheap labor, scratchy moralists
ready to bid on the removal of the wall—
isn’t that it—the bid on hauling away the wall.
If those other German have any sense at all
they’ll keep that wall, and defend it to the death.



Millennial Miasma

The air is filled with devilettes, thick
as chaff in the September sun.
Forget dustmites!
You’ll be lucky to have asthma—
the whole awful sweep of the chimney
comes down the millennium, signs
in the air, in the water, in the aether
in the catheters, right down
into the lung books of the arachnid.

That this mass will ingest poison
and crawl back for more with a coupon
in its supplicating hands, has not gone
unnoticed and unremarked
throughout the Christian era— the Eucharist
ended as damned hamburger,
and the wine a pepsican full of piss.
Before that, traditionally,
it was a haunch of anything not
nimble enough to get out of the way.

Dear Mr. FBI,
if you want to arrest a bomb-maker
forget the Unabomber, who after all
has our best interests in mind. There is an expert
much closer to hand—bust Gerry Adams,
the current agent of Rome,
the next time he has lunch with Bill.


Fourteen Ninety Two: thoughts on the Genoan

Christopher Colón had a lot of fortitude—
he was a never-say-die dude.

That’s why all the clammering Irreconcilables
and half-castes secretly envy him, because

He had the kind of macho they admire—
lying to the crew, faking the charts,

Hiding the true log, conning the Queen—
she’s soon to be made Saint Isabel, by the way.

And it has to be for funding his enterprise
why else? For flaying all those heretics? Forget it.

It was his Discovery—the only other half
of the true world left to discover—the Hittites?

What a laugh! Why would they have bothered,
they could get their beards braided at the local oasis.

He knew it wasn’t India but he stuck
to his guns because that was generic, and good enough

For everything in that direction, and in some ways,
including a penchant for the plague, it still is.




The Roman tic—

“You talkin to Me?“

Paranoidal seeking

Offense in every gesture

The stare, the look

The invitation to muerte

The blood revenge

The seething resentment

And eternal humiliation

From spiritual enslavement—

All this ruin comes

From the dripping baroque

Of the Cruxifixion.




My tribe came from struggling labor
Depression South Eastern Illinois
Just before the southern hills start
To roll toward the coal country
Where the east/west morainal ridges
Of Wisconsin trash pile up
At the bottom of the prairie, socially
A far midwest recrudescence of Appalachia
My grandfather French Québécois
Master pipefitter in the age of steam
Indian fifty percent, very French
Who didn’t derogate himself
As a breed, showed none of those tedious
Tendentious tendencies. Came down
From Chebanse, from the Illinois Central
In Iroquois County, to the Chicago &
Eastern Illinois line’s division at Villa Grove
In one of the Twenties boomlets,
The last precipitous edges of the great devolvement

These forbears on my mother’s side
Owned a nice clapboard house in old town
Where I was brought up off and on during
The intensity of the depression, parents
Wandering work search, up and down
The bleak grit avenues of Flint, following
Other exodus relatives, Belgian in-laws
From another french connexion
Michael Moore-land from the beginning
Manmade poisons in the cattle feed way
Before Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and angry cows—
Governments always conspire against
The population and often
This is not even malice;
Just nothing better to do.

I’m with the Kurds and the Serbs and the Iraqis
And every defiant nation this jerk
Ethnic crazy country bombs—
World leaders can claim
What they want about terror,
As they wholesale helicopters
To the torturers—
But I’m straight out
Of my tribe from my great grandma Merton
Pure Kentucky English—it would take more paper
Than I’ll ever have to express how justified I feel.

Edward Dorn | Collected Poems
Carcanet 2012



Sean Bonney

“My favourite time living here [in London] was when fascists tried to march through our part of town, and we blocked their path at the top of my road. We gave them a kicking, we sent them running. Not the kind of thing that gets into the papers or on the TV or on the tourist brochures. I loved everyone on my street for that.“
“I wish I was a musician. I sing songs in the kitchen sometimes and it sounds awful, and my closest friends laugh at me all the time. More and more you don’t have to talk in London. They have automated tills in the supermarket and automated ticket offices in the Tube. When I was finishing my PhD I didn’t speak to anyone for a month, more or less, except to the tobacconist. I didn’t miss it, though I guess I acted weird when I started going out again. I find conversation easiest when I’m drunk. I can only say sensible things when they’re written down ahead of time. This embarrasses me and is not quite true.“
“The poems [Happiness] relate absolutely to the upheaval, it’s what they’re about. But I try to make them also resonate across the history of the left, of anarchism, and of radical poetry as well. I’ve been calling it “Militant Poetics,“ not as a label, but as something to distinguish what I’m trying to do from, on the one hand, “political poetry,“ and on the other, “radical poetry.“ Because obviously everything that is ‘political’ and ‘radical’ can also be taken to mean purely formal radicalism. I’ve been trying to work out a poetics that can speak directly, but without sacrificing any of its complexity, or its structural radicalism. Perhaps the dialectic between silence and the political slogan—the “whose streets our streets“—is where the poetry actually is.“
“A poem can’t fight back, obviously. But then poems like mine—and also the poets who I feel close to in one way or another—also don’t “play dead“ in that they are trying to talk about the current situation (and there are a lot of ‘avant-garde’ poets who are just going on as before, trying to pretend that nothing is happening), about what it’s doing to collective subjectivity, of how we even understand what “fighting back“ might mean, and how the language of our poetry can meet the language of conservatism. Because so far, it hasn’t come close. I’ve been attacked a couple of times for the violence in my recent work, but there is nothing in it that is a foul as what you can read in the papers […] which are full of lies about immigrants, benefit claimants and so forth, lies that actually destroy lives. […]
I find it really strange that the most common complaint about militant poetry is that it has no efficacy, and so there is no point writing it. I don’t know of anyone who has written a poem and expected it by itself to change anything. The interesting point is not whether or not poetry can contribute to change, but what the experience of social/political intensity does the poetry. My writing changed after being at Millbank. It changed even more after being out on the streets during riots.“
from A Conversation | Sean Bonney / Paal Bjelke Andersen. 2014


Communique – (after Rimbaud)

but, if commodities could speak > their
imaginary friends grabbed your arm, their
barren life > is as simple as blossom, as a
musical phrase < beautiful as driving nails
deep in the skull of William Hague, that
vicious pink < imagine cultivating warts
as if commodities could speak > or fired
lived bullets & teargas, as crackling words
encircled the last of the liberated cities
or the fierce buzzing of flies > but anyway
imagine commodities could think, their
scraping hands on your sleeve > musical
beams of love < barren, respected life


Interference Note (after Rimbaud)

I understood money as a knife, would
use that centrifuge > London, rotating
embers of an abstract city, capital
in red & black. It was sleeping, we were
awake inside it > the opposite is also true
has blocked the anti-matter of the speaking I
has secreted memory < confronted its being
as bourgeois love, that cannibal monstrosity
wherein government is at war with thought’s
productions of transparency < a pretty little
enzyme dissolved our face’s history, privatised
the place and the formula > consciousness
in exile, mass without number, insurrection
is value. Meanings excoriate the enemy language.


It is impossible fully to grasp Rimbaud’s work, and especially Une Saison en Enfer, if you have not studied through and understood the whole of Marx’s Capital. Consequently, none of the poets for the past half-century has understood Rimbaud. Lenin, Zurich, 1915


after Rimbaud

no signal > here find enclosed
one partial landscape, scraped
inoffensive language or like birds
meaning sexual theorems <
Iain Duncan-Smith is one, &
is prosodically useless, that much
is clear, invades the poem as
if it were social life > & this
too is a trap / its rational form
a contagion upon the world
< here find enclosed one crow
landscape in cop mathematics
i.e. Blanqui couldn’t say a word
the telemetric sky in crackling white

after Rimbaud

of Downing Street, that assembly of ghouls & defunct regimes
of the warm November wind, our absurd paupers’ memoriesoutside London it is all geometry, a euphemism for civil war
I remember our cotton dresses, those ribbons and bows

we skirted the disks of the city, its deserted, dying angles

we were wearing flags and pretty flowers, but our memories
at several intersections they opened into vast arched domes

of that other life, its obnoxious circles, of relics and animal love
the horrific quantity of force we will need to continue even to live


When you meet a Tory on the street, cut his throat
It will bring out the best in you.
It is as simple as music or drunken speech.
There will be flashes of obsolete light.
You will notice the weather only when it starts to die.

Poems After Rimbaud



Five points on the map. Five days
You watch your city burn.
Five A.M. Five cops at the door.
Interpret that. No city is built again
Your map a declaration, a trap, a war.


Divination. Inhuman fears of the people
This distance, an arrangement of songs
scattered on the capital, a set of laws
to kill the living. Rhymes, this distance.
Ruins are barricades. Songs are bones.


Our maps, almost, are conspirators
all night awake, questioning the sky
Comets, also, are bones. Are waiting
to crash our adventure. Days pile up
Like collapsing towers. Cops. Bone.

crossed out Bakunin. wrote down five cops.
5 a.m. – a charm to consume the capital.


[from Cancer]

let’s drink with the unemployed
with all sun and silence
with all dust in the sun and silence
and sun and cognac and dust
and cigarettes and sun
no, lets not go on about our health today
pills and drink and snot
don’ worry
I feel very calm
there are nails there is hair there are years
the pills are great. the party, you know which one I mean
impossible to tell whose a cop these days
the cognacs shit
no, I haven’t heard anything for quite some time
you know I’n thinking I might want to, you know
there’s a room upstairs
I want to see you without your pants
kind of curious about your dick
music, for chrissake
you take a solo
“they took a stick and beat me”
you pullout your switchblade start slashing
The Bonnot Gang were right.

There are four cardinal points.
The first is the sky, it is where they have buried us.
The second, the earth. There they question us. It is very silent.
The other two points were recently taken out of commission.
No explanations were offered

one day I’ll come out from the houses
I did it yesterday
no thought for anything
one small shred of my father
a tiny piece of the sea
no-one can take them from me
the city they fucked like a dead friend
so many dead friends
one day I’ll come out from the houses
straight into powder and flames
I did it yesterday
you fascist bastards
you pig bastards
red banners barricades black banners
a new city a new kind of sun
one day I’ll come out of the houses
and listen I need to tell you
don’t think I’m afraid when I tell you
they got me. don’t do it. they got me.
reinvent time. reinvent violence. then
listen, go at those bastards like the furies.
only then will you disappear
only then will you learn the magic
a tiny shred of childhood and ocean
one day I will come out from the houses
a strangers language of rags and dreams
and the loneliness, the disappearance
oh god the loneliness. I mean
what do you think I am
some kind of fucking cop


Orchids (after Anita Berber)

I am not a garden
there are no orchids
I will never kiss them
these women and boys
their spectral offices
they devour me
this storm of ghosts
I am cold as silver


Take this man. Draw a diagram of the catastrophe.
Draw as many borders as you can, across the various states of his body.
Fill his mouth with contraband. Take his borders. Contravene them.
Draw our lives across his body. The catastrophe that is his body.
When he shits gold kill him.


[from cancer]

Loneliness does not meet for lunch in Selfridges
nor does it stroll abstract and satisfied thru the V&A, for example
it doesn’t understand Beethoven
or even the Beatles, for that matter
never gets nostalgic over memories of its mother
its ribbons its straw hats its oh-so-middle-class morphine
loneliness is not white
loneliness is up for sale. loneliness will clean your toilet with her fucking tongue.
oh god I’m swearing again.
loneliness turns up drowned on the front pages as refugee porn and is three years old
loneliness queues up politely for a boot in the face for black eggs and poisoned ham
loneliness crawls up from the desert her mouth filled with salt and grain
is marked out in inches like cattle and real estate
humiliation pain humiliation pain
is laughing and is very silent
loneliness crawls out from the ocean her mouth filled with sand and glass
loneliness knows your passwords
humiliation pain humiliation pain
destroys private property. knows all your music is prison.
knows all of your language is prison. all of your seconds are prison.
knows western weapons.
knows european oceans and blood-clots and fucking shit.
loneliness is screaming is smashing your windows with boots and chains
loneliness is dancing barefoot on tables in bars where they hate you hate you
is holding in her bruised and ruined hands a very sharp axe
is hanging over your head
is swirling over your head
is lonely is lonely and loneliness is power is sharpened and bloodstained is swirling is swirling


“Trash Me!“

These days everyone is writing their final book. Whatever. I’ve lost everything as well. My body is made up of three needles, several coins, a system of nitrates and something wankers would call ‘a philosophy’. I see in the dark and like to smash mirrors. For many other people things are far worse. I roam around the town, reciting an old poem by Anita Berber: CORPSE. KNIFE. CORPSE. KNIFE. LIGHT. There are moments each evening when I think I can see that light. It shines inside all the rooms I have lived in, all those rooms and cities that we have always despised. COINS. MIRRORS. LIGHT.


Black Cocaine (after Anita Berber)

Walls are partially imaginary
One table
Several shadows
Everywhere I see eyes
Black eyes green eyes
I have abolished my sex
I have no desires
Only incidents and burning flies
Shadows are partially walls
There is someone here
Wants my shadow
Eats it
Fucks it
Steals my shadow
My cocaine my shrieking
I’m drunk right now I’m in pain
There are many types of pain
And many eyes
Many animals
Many mice and many stars
Scarlet shadows


A Note on my Recent Poetics

I stopped smoking pot a few months ago because it was making me paranoid, but since then most days I’ve been taking potentially fatal doses of amphetamine. Its almost certainly making me psychotic, but it does at least have the advantage of saving me from the vast cataclysm that sleep has become. Most mornings I feel uneasy, visible and invisible at the same time, trapped between the proverbial two worlds, neither of which I’m prepared to accept or even tolerate. I can’t tell them apart anyway – everything’s functioning at some kind of stroboscopic level, where the invisible world is populated by a gaggle of flesh and blood insomniacs staggering around after a shipwreck, and the visible one by a weird star-map, a network of knots and tumours that up until now have been locked somewhere in the centre of the earth, a hell of alphabets and spectral injustices that we can summarise as a string of cysts arranged in strings along the chronology. Lets see. There was the poll tax revolt. There were punk houses. There was ecstasy and acid and free parties. The criminal justice bill. Britpop. The rise of the ironic wank. The phrase zero tolerance. The boredom of enforced hedonism. The skeleton of Tony Blair. The flames of humanitarian intervention. The inevitability of jihad. And thats just one more or less arbitrary little cluster, a hall of various mirrors that every morning I chop and snort increasingly gargantuan lines from until, in the words of Ernst Bloch, “years become minutes, as in legends where, in the apparent time span of a single night, a witch cheats her victim out of a long life”. And I don’t know whether I identify with that witch or not, but I do know that there are some mornings when I consider the possibility of powdering Blair’s bones, and then casting them at the feet of various monuments – say for example the statues that encircle Trafalgar Square – so as to transform them into real demons. The crisis, or whatever it is we’re supposed to call it. The ruins of the Ritz, for example. The broken glass of Millbank. The jail terms of the rioters. Ah shit. The smell of blood is overpowering. I have very serious doubts that my body will survive the current catastrophe but, what the hell, I know for a fact that my shadow will never be seen inside the Cities of the Dead. My skeleton, however, and those of my friends, may well one day be seen dancing on their embers. Their ashes. See you later. It is becoming increasingly clear that Thatcher faked her death.


Georg Trakl’s Psalm

as I imagine it spoken by the ghost of Anita Berber

It is a light gone out forever.
It is a bar that’s never opened never closed.
It is a vineyard it is a black hole it is a mouth full of spiders.
It is an abandoned room, sprayed with burning milk.
The maniacs have died. It is an undiscovered island
It is the sun as it is in nightmares. They are smashing the drums
They are inventing war.
Here they are wriggling their hips here they are buying smack
Oh the screaming ocean. Paradise is catastrophe.

It is all porn especially the fairytale forests.
Here they are they have buried the refugees. Oh my its raining again.
Nasty old gods are digging the ditches
They are all asleep in the boring city squares and bombs are falling.
It is chemical rain it is little girls it is poverty and celebrity and crocodile tears.
It is rooms filled with impossible chords it is your tedious record collection.
It is shadows it is Air BnB it is mythological mirrors.
Here are the inmates they have burnt the hospital down.
Here is your favourite dealer, here are the latest plagues.

An invisible person has appeared in everyone’s simultaneous dream.
Oh look here I am. Fuck the police.
It is the surveillance laws. All ages are not contemporaneous.
We are outside this century. We are very glamorous. We are waiting in the hall.
Somewhere near Moritzplatz the adepts are getting sick.
It is the stupidity of gardens. I love the tiny sparrows.
The janitor’s kids are not playing they are digging up gold.
It is the last song you will ever hear. It is horrible blind children waiting in the alley
Their shadows are climbing the wall, it is poisons and fascists and fairytale roses.

It is a tourist boat on the Landwehrkanal.
It is the building where I live, it is valium and speed.
Here are the dead refugees, piled up inside the walls.
It is our smug little rooms it is our wings stained with shit.
It is the western border it is what you want it to be it is England controlled by maggots.
Here I am, in love with this city. It is peaceful like my childhood dreams.
Here we are choking our memories to death.
What if this year never ends.
Here are the experts being fed to the dogs.

In America a very boring lunatic opens his eyes.

Ghosts, published in 2017 by Materials Press. Containing poems written in Berlin between September 2015 and the Summer of 2017, this pamphlet includes selected work from Cancer: Poems after Katerina Gogou, and an ongoing sequence entitled Our Death, as well as other pieces from the period. These are poems haunted by catastrophe, light, fires, the sun, violence and love. As Bonney writes: “We were talking about prophecy, about defeat and war, about how nobody knows what those words really mean, and what they will come to mean”. Drawing on writers like Baudelaire, Artaud, Anita Berber and Hölderlin like “marks on a calendar”, “a kind of cacophony”, or “the beginnings of a map”, these poems are vital indices of where we are.



After Ernst Bloch for Anita Berber

When a dancer dies everybody says they know her illness. That they saw her on the UBahn, smaller than she ever was in life. But it was theirs all along, that illness. Its just they never treated it as a theory or a practice. Instead, they tended to it like garden roses, running it through their borders and their nations. They defined themselves by absence of disease, and because of this there are no dancers left except those who are trapped between worlds, hands fluttering in front of their faces, invisible to those who speak of them. They will still be there, on those same station platforms, when all of the cities are deserted and the middle class body explodes in bedbugs and palatial plague.



Destruction of self is never voluntary. This is called “discipline”. But our judges claim not to know that. They stand in our doorways, stare at us as we walk past. Something inside us freezes them, and after we have vanished, they close their eyes. As for us, we keep on walking, their deaths concealed inside our mouths. In a way we protect them, our judges, for if they could hear the hoarse and desperate phrases we mumble as we walk they would crumble, and never again recognise the things they claim to believe. Our lives, trapped behind their eyelids, measured in canisters of teargas, in blockades and bombardment, in viruses and theatres. For centuries they have been standing inside our doors. Poisonous as oceans. The trampled nights of the middle class.

That there will be no light. Day breaks too late. Too early and too late.

Gods of the Plague




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