Rob Halpern

Giulio Paolini| Diaframma 8 (Diaphragm 8), 1965




On the specter of higher wages

Who can explain this sudden jubilation a swing
Inside the moon’s dark mood a grave from which
We return at dawn so lost inside extraction

-’s deal with the dead to shed tender coins my
Words attach to arcade nerve a pissed elation each
Emotion an adjunct to trade whose algorithms

Replace my too excitable body the way machines
Once replaced my dad like quant strategies they pop
The flesh of surplus hands as inventory annuls night

-’s predations the darkness streaming bounty’s blight
I barely note the latex fibers & quality weave beneath
My skin when we sleep bearing nothing legible

No trace of the labor it takes to bring you to me
Thru fields of tin & mines of rice just sync my name
To what forgotten forms desire assumes say Betamax

Or cylindrical phonography even the Dragon Ball
Franchise stands a chance of crushing the banks
When losing steam they induce my measure

 — ’s fake calm.




And so I sing this body on a table
For since the war I’ve read reports i
-magined events studied pro

-cedures assisting incarceration
W/ coroners who must know
Something and whose language

Rushes like unfettered streams on
-ly half-knowing the work I mean
Check out this wonder of a guy

A spectacle withdrawn & covered
With my latinate phrases issue
Displace so gorgeous a figure again

-st a ground of organs & viscera
For which the world moves its
Product making nothing this body

Linking it to that body my body
Severed from animal & plant over
Which production cycles steadily

Roll whose head the all-baffling
Brain eviscerates evacuates exa
-mines limbs jaundiced brown a

Cunning tendon nerve now strip
-ped so you still can’t see things
But just imagine his dreamy eyes

Deadened plucked volition flakes
Inside pleural cavities mere sacs
Upon a table grey-white smooth

Mucosa distended stomach not
Flabby good-sized arms legs
Ureters & genitalia unremarkable

Interior what dura mater drapes
And mysteries haunt the clear
Yellow urine the pericardial bag

From which his prick might other
-wise rise normally with blood no
Longer running red runs to brown

Purple to tan as swelling jets pass
-ions patient swollen one would
Think not there since invisible

Condemned inside his fat the start
Of revolutions durable matter
Is thin delicate yielding countless

Embodiments baffling republics
Whose cranial nerves contest
My enjoyments will arrive

From the offspring of his offspring
Thru our bleakest time I come

from him myself



Giulio Paolini | D 867, 1967




One civilian detainee was found
Unresponsive with a ligature
Or plastic band around my cock

A bottle ring pops pigeon death
In cell behaviour health unit joint
Task force Guantanamo 2200 hours

When the ligature gets cut I come
Without remorse on the source
Of light his electric body being

Banished to mulch organic comp
– osition capital dividing luminous
Flux a rumour a burden of labour

Having fallen away from the tend
– ency of profit to rise and fall w/
The quality of radiance his cock

The way any man will use my hands
Like vitreous fluid his urine emits
So diffused a glow no needle-like

Beam thru pores of junk no evi
– dence of trauma resuscitation
Efforts begging immediate organ

– isation to turn blood back
To military cargo my skin
Now shares

 — with a tank.




The poem opens what space
Deprives sentience turns to dry cell
Water put off during observation

Case under investigation by naval
Criminal authority for autopsy
Armed forces medical examiner

Under IAW title 10 U.S. code 1471
Subject identified by visual recog
– nition looks nothing like what I

See when I see anything at all who
– se ID tags & fingerprints tissue
Samples obtained for DNA equals

Asphyxia due to ligature death
Being a ring around my cock stran
– gulation suicide by something

Used for tying when I come join
– ing letters the decedent could be
Viewed thru cell window not

Breathing on my floor in fetal
Position his right side covered
With blanket & both feet exposed

to my forced production of meaning




Dear Shaker Amer ~

Were my letter to reach you it would destroy conditions
Of the poems’ possibility as if a resurrection of yr name
Could stand for something more than mere negation

Of yr personhood illusion of universal address an empty
Formalism like justice itself whose truth the poems otherwise
Belie the way the page becomes a viewfinder it frames

You or yr figure black odalisque a gesture of impossible
Repose reclining on a table the exchange of any leather
Cord for one specific elastic band torn from yr army is

-sued panties marks the end of a therapeutic process where
-by one fantasy is successfully replaced by another an end
-less chain transforming my melancholia into a season

-al affective disorder before passing with the snow so I jerk
The thing myself tugging on plastic & string my utopian
Calamari of the camp a terminus where I anchor this

Writing as if yr hand had never been removed

from so commonplace a function.




The point of communism being to develop
These contradictions when all that is common
Melts into the thinnest ice this cap or crust

Yr despoiled skin a hoary sublimation of ground
Resource ensures a way of life that has no
Life outside yr cage to break the secret bond

Guarantor of smooth functioning like shame
It exacerbates its own conditions so to love
You shamelessly must be

the way of this development.




for Sianne

There’s nothing more politically transcendent
Said porn director & founder of Treasure
Island Studio than a cheap whore. It was

In an interview I found myself reading one
Afternoon in Dolores Park while thinking
About how to end this book which seems not

To want to end and he goes on by saying
That the body of the true whore is the flint
That makes the spark of revolution

Possible. Is this the spark I have in mind
When considering what it might mean to burn
With love for my detainee and I’m reminded

Of Baudelaire who in The Salon of 1859 writes
(And I can only paraphrase) it’s not without
Some reason that I use the word fantasy

Which is all the more dangerous he says when
Unconstrained like the love inspired by a pro
– stitute as it falls into idiocy or degradation.

Fantasy throws light upon the obscurity
That obtains in things he goes on and if it does
– n’t then the fantasy is horribly useless

Une inutilité horrible he calls it as if the promise
Of fantasy were strangely one to demystify
A mystified world wherein obscurity reigns or

To disenchant the enchanted while enchanting
That disenchantment in song. So if my song
Appears defiled perhaps it’s only failed to shine

A light on its object to penetrate the appearance
Of things whose seeming transparency trans
– figures a useless horror whose own obscure

Abstraction is the use

to which it has been put.




Like a slab of light, his body bursts into this field of white. Now it’s cooling down as my thoughts about him find their heat. The skin expels strange radiance, these blanks wherein my writing hovers. Dead aureoles, like mortal trash, they make my tongue enlarge and my face breakout, each organ yielding a noisome fluid. Metal salts condense in the blood and amplify intensity. I need to believe this sentence follows the existence of something, a plosive hum or drone, an object in my head, whatever cuts on facial planes. Under grave prismatic glare, the tissue peels away, passing daily with my urine. The intestines shed internal slough, and we can see it pass thru his rectum. Dead light emanates from such vague humors, concealing intravenous holes on his right arm and anticubital fossa. Such light is thrown upon my cornea, as the image stretches to inconceivable peripheries equal only to the surface area of rentable space where the appearance of military cargo becomes my own veil of particles. Subcutaneous fat cushions the emanation of even fainter waves, while the garbage that his organs make sublimes into profit, each marketable product sharing something of value with a tank. The arterial trachea, esophagus and tongue peel away in turn, as the body rejects each membranous surface, like a memory of home and the first bed I came in. What language overcomes the distance between this visionary space and the rational zone of the coroner’s report to which his body’s destined. Yr piss emits the same radiant glow, diffuse and fuzzy, dividing luminous flux from the body’s planar surface. For a moment I take his open skin for the source of my sentence. Serial sectioning of the brain reveals yet another scene of brilliance, as both stem and cerebellum emerge from the body in candescent gowns. On first sight, his light resembles a quality known to enhance the satisfaction of office employees, while allowing cannabis to grow strong and healthy, the same light needed for breeding poultry. His body’s predicament, being equally irrational, like the albuminous skin of an egg, erects its figure anterior to every gaze. Upon further sectioning, the cerebral hemisphere lets go a bulb of fire in a muted haze that dampens the atmosphere around this resting surface. A veneer of carbon waste, how it slumbers in our speech, the way his body dreams me here. The gurney no longer exists on solid ground, his body being an incorrect sexual object for which I ought to be sentenced. And so a meaning hangs over us, the structure of corporeal space, a crack between what we perceive and what we say. Instead, I make a little souvenir of hair and teeth glowing with residual heat, turning my pocket into a reliquary, my fantasy, his mausoleum. The body is thus secured inside a bean-sized hole, his limbs taxonomized, his face covered with luminous sores betraying a smooth pricing surface, a constellation of lesions through which the light moves in patterns that allow me to read the report. Plasma scrims through pores of junk, a beautiful pyrotechnic sun, a spasm of glass exploding from his skull. A needle-like beam protrudes through the epidermal tissue, and even wider bands transport the dura mater, each organ arrayed, bearing some concealed relation, now mechanically rendered visible. His penis, semi-erect, a feather of light now touching me gently. Cranial nerves spawn white arcs of joy, each of which perplexes, but whose quandary reveals true radiance, no evidence of trauma. A haptic rose, my dead give away. As always, the scandal is hushed in deep reserves of light. The secret of his sacred beam’s no secret, but absolute exposure to rule, whose measures my darkness defies. Anyone who has looked directly at the source knows that this is only true.



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