let light shine out of darkness :: daniel borzutzky

I live in a body that does not have enough light in it

For years, I did not know that I needed to have more light

Once I walked around my city on a dying morning and a decomposing
body approached me and asked me why I had no light

I knew this decomposing body

All that remained of it were teeth, bits of bone, a hand

It came to me and said: There is no light that comes out of your body

I did not know at the time that there should have been light in my body

It’s not that I am dead

It’s not that I am translucent

It’s that you cannot know you need something if you do not know it
is missing

Which is not to say that for years I did not ask for this light

Once, I even said to the body I live with: I think I need more light in
my body, but I really did not take this seriously as a need, as something I
deserved to have

I said: I think I need for something blue or green to shine from my rib cage

Other times when I am talking about lightness I am talking about breath
and space and movement

For it is hard to move in a body so congested with images of mutilation

Did you hear the one about the illegal immigrant who electrocuted his
employee’s genitals? Did you hear the one about the boy in Chicago whose
ear was bitten off when he crossed a border he did not know existed?

I want to give you more room to move so I am trying to carve a space, with
light, for you to walk a bit more freely

This goes against my instincts, which are to tie you down, to tie you to
me, to bind us by the wrist the belly the neck and to look directly into
your mouth, to make you open your mouth and speak the vocabulary of
obliteration right into your tongue your veins your blood

I stop on a bridge over the train tracks and consider the history of the
chemical-melting of my skin

Once, when I poured a certain type of acid on my arm I swore I saw a
bright yellow gas seep out of my body

Once, my teeth glowed sick from the diseased snow they had shoved into
my mouth when they wanted me to taste for myself to bring into my
body the sorrows of the rotten carcass economy

Once, I dreamwrote that I found my own remains in a desert that was
partially in Chile and partially in Arizona

Was I a disappeared body, tossed out of an airplane by a bureaucrat-
soldier-compatriot or was I a migrant body who died from dehydration
while crossing the invisible line between one civilization and another

I was part of a team of explorers we were searching for our own bodies

In the desert I found my feet and I put them in a plastic bag and
photographed them, cataloged them, weighed and measured them and
when I was finished with the bureaucratization of my remains I lay down
in the sand and asked one of my colleagues to jam a knife into my belly

She obliged

But when the blade entered my skin it was as if my belly were a water balloon

Water shot into the air

My skin ripped into hundreds of pieces and I watched as the water covered
the feet of my colleagues who were here to document their disappearances
and decomposition

It was at this moment that I saw light in my body not sun over the sand
but a drip of soft blue on a piece of skin that had fallen off my body and
dissolved into its own resistance

state poetry :: daniel borzutzky

This poem was written in the office of a state employee, and typed on a state-owned computer, and as such it is a violation of state ethics rules which prevent state employees from using state resources for work that is beyond the employee’s job description.

Because this poem was written on a state-owned computer, and printed on a state-owned printer, and copied on a state-owned Xerox machine, it is, by law, the property of the state.

This poem willfully submits itself to state ownership.

This poem feels that there is no better owner of a poem than the state.

This poem feels that state-controlled poetry is the poetry of the future.

When the author of this poem is appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois, this poem will instantly transform into an important work of literature.

This poem has an active staff of fundraisers who are seeking corporate sponsorship.

This poem is static, and in the stasis of this poem, a community of poets shall be blown to ash by a force that believes in art as a government and military weapon.

This poem speaks of the world, but in its attempt to speak of the world it is interrupted by bureaucrats writing poetic memos; by generals writing poetic death orders; by refugees writing poetic love songs to sheep, Israeli Uzis, and virgins.

This poem carries guns, prayer books, maps, cash, and manuals for heavy machinery.

This poem contains poet-interrogators who shove into terrorist mouths a variety of sedatives in preparation for gradual neurological reprogramming.

This poem is to be read through a walkie-talkie at a convention of poets who long to be institutionalized.

This poem institutionalizes poets by granting them immediate tenure at state universities they will never be able to leave.

The university is a fitting place for these poets: lots of sodomy and bitter fights over misplaced semi-colons and poorly formed ideologies.

In the world of this poem, a ball of dust is a Neanderthal man with a club; a cobweb is a poppy field full of landmines; and a horse on a road is fourteen illegal immigrants in a stable.

Critics hate this poem.

Editors laugh at this poem.

Poets shit on this poem.

Babies and graduate students eat this poem.

There are bivalved mollusks in this poem, and hemorrhoids, and a dog named Chucho, and coyotes who kidnap immigrants.

This poem speaks of a sheep-herder’s wife in the same breath that it mentions a cheerleader from the Upper East Side who fashions pom-poms from the hair of poodles captured by her Canine Detention Brigade.

This poem is an ally of the Metrosexual Insurgents who waged war on Banana Republic after maxing out their credit cards.

This poem is actively recruiting insurgents to terrorize exurban outlet malls.

This poem is a representative sample of the Chilean-Jewish school of Western Pennsylvanian Poetics.

This poem is rhythmically unappealing.

The form of this poem has little to do with its content.

This poem feels slightly uncomfortable referring to teriyaki-flavored-tofu dildos and macrobiotic lesbians.

This poem longs to be doused in gasoline and shoved into the mouth of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

This poem has no desire to withstand the test of time, and its author recommends that all copies of this poem be burned two years after publication.

This poem is firm in its convictions and compassionate at the same time.

This is a people-poem, not a political poem.

This poem is committed to public service.

This poem is simple, unobtrusive, and easy to use or ignore as the reader sees fit.