One Evening

I’m in public again
and writing a poem
about the man in a fishing vest
who is watching Rihanna videos

One after another

I’m afraid I’ll be disinvited
from many more parties
because I canceled my internet
and I can’t control my despair

I’d like to grow cauliflower
successfully / to steam it
to near transparency / to eat it
and absorb all its nutrients

I’m not doing that

Often I feel a strong desire
to drink nothing but water
for several weeks
I’m not doing that either

I understand patterns
I don’t understand
needing to understand all of them

One evening I noticed
that every dog in the dog park
was lit with a similar LED device

The way a dog runs
at night is different

I expect we just wanted to see


The news wants me to forget
how to fall in love
with the blue hydrangeas
going rotten on my warped deck

Nothing has changed

Every day
we rediscover the benefits
of fresh fruits and vegetables

and wonder
if rainbows are cheesy

I get a lot of pleasure
from making spare house keys
and keeping them all
on a single ring

I want to be useful
and to think useful thoughts
and to believe that others
would encourage me to

As it is
people act like language
is cake / or an orchid

But it knows how
to be something else

The New World

The New World arrived
when we were unconscious

It laid on top of the Old World
like vellum paper
and showed us what we’d done

There was no one to blame
because everyone was an institution
and therefore subject to rules

There were many new documents
we felt compelled to sign

There was still fresh juice
though we regarded it skeptically

The New World shined
brighter / and was

Red became a color
for the first time in decades

Heat came from humans
who were just pure energy

Food grew faster
and more anonymously

The New World split itself
between ideology and action

It made new images
and reproduced them

Many of these images
were of a much Newer World
we hadn’t gotten to yet

There was a feeling permeating
all of us / a sleepy memory
of having moved beyond
the moment of choice-making
without having made
a choice at all

The New World for example
was not a singular decision

It was an adjacent performance
Long and slow


I watched it sometimes
when there was nothing else on

Something to clean the house
or prepare food with

Otherwise it was just me

And how quiet it gets then

Kelly Schirmann

Kelly Schirmann is a writer, musician, ceramicist, and visual artist from Northern California. She is the author of Popular Music and the co-author, with Tyler Brewington, of Boyfriend Mountain and Nature Machine. Her music projects include headband (solo), Sung Mountains (with Jason Fiske), and Young Family (with Sam Pink). She is the founding editor of Black Cake, a record label for contemporary poetry and other experiments, and the co-creator of OMO, Public Access and Friendship Collective. Other projects include Americans for Responsible Technology (A.R.T.), Idea Book, and Human/Website. She currently lives in Arcata, California.


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