Bob Perelman


In the middle style
verb follows subject
and they join forces
to ally themselves
with a given time and place.

Mistakes can be funny;
there is a well-thumbed anthology
of angles for walking into walls.
Or be mistakes funny can not.
God is beyond genre, sayeth genre,
but genre remains faithful
unto the day. To pronounce
the death of any genre
in the language of the genre itself
has provided is a self-impossibilizing act
by an apostle of an empty wind
blowing backwards from a future
that will never arrive.

In the middle style
you use the poem
to keep the present presentable
or go to you room, amuse yourself,
and assume the position.

Glints of unending focus.
I was walking down Stenton Avenue
in the middle style, past the Dollar Store
where the clerk was shot
and will be as long as the tenses
ratify the cars, willed light,
thin grey clouds stretching inappropriately east,
losses spread evenly throughout the signs.

They're soaked with the present
and this was wrong, crouching uniformly
beneath the fireball of reason
taking off and disappearing into the future.

There I was, pounding the spaceship wall,
yelling, "Nadja! We don't have to be
sexy anymore! We're sane!
We'll have to jump!"
The only place to land
was in a chain of identifications
in the new-tarred street,
the stuck-together pebbles that had been
someone's business, someone's shovelful.

In an explosively compressed ceremony,
the light turns green.
I have to hurry.