[poetry month] "History As a War of Poses" by Farid Matuk


Ahhh kiss from you, love, then the planted field of eucalyptus
seeping into gold, cow dust,
molten car hoods and the freeways of California fall.
Just over is the ocean
but among these peeling, white-stockinged legs of
eucalyptus is one way I never thought about my father
as I had of Des Esseintes appearing from among the black silks,
the black wools of
the wake for his fresh dead
virility, poising a piece of blackberry meat
between his teeth —
the finest hip in Europe, opium cooked, laid down as the next
salvo in history as a war of poses.


Hector and I in his pick-up claim
the desert of California as our relative end
then interrupt a white boy shooting cans by the off-road trail.
The poem, which is the vehicle for the hero, is in the thousand,
the impossibly, the five
starred night
in the sow
for us cousins it’s in the idea of the White Boy who comes
from stories of wolf-mother teats and jackal-father pistols
goat fucking under the above-mentioned night
the squinting horizon trained barren sun bleached stone
landscape eyes of cowboys.


I write now from a hotel above the center of Texas.
I see Walmart’s distribution center, bigger than anything.
The xenon flood lamps at its bays give such beams as to seem levers
to pry the thing a foot or so above itself.
I know something about race and something about sex and I obey
the market imperative
to keep things moving.
But it’s such a beautiful giant, you can bother with the critique.

All men, I think, have a favorite war.
Mine is the incessant flinging of the Red Army at Berlin —
ten thousand defending Soviets dead every day.

I’d been trying to give my sex to men and women since I was a kid.
At first, when she wanted me, I could hardly say anything that wasn’t,
“Look at you, wanting me.”

— Farid Matuk, from This Isa Nice Neighborhood, Letter Machine Editions, 2010.

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