Zen & the Arts - Field Notes

It arrives on a container ship with packets of toys, shoes, electronics, and guns. Men drive machines that carry it to a store. You look in every store but you can’t find one. You are walking or drinking or swiping one day and you think you’ve found an and you haven’t. The boring, teary truths of all virginities, parabolas traced only by their ends. The historian and Kurzweil agree: what ends hasn’t started. Each faith is a utopia. Later in your swimming pool of toys, shoes, electronics, guns, up to your neck in cardboard boxes and Louboutins, you wonder: was it He that bore? Was that a face pressed against the hotel glass, was that an arm. What is its armature? On what legs am I spinning now? You drink your Mai Tai, you swim in Louboutins.

It arrives on a container ship shaped like a phone. Data centers hum like colony bees because they are. Listen to them singing. Listen to the little clicks your iPhone speaker makes. New ecologists of skeuomorphic cricket sounds appear, documenting the structures of happy clicks and of sad ones. Look at the animals’ eyes, Dave. You can’t tell me they’re feeling nothing. Descartes was wrong: look at this vigorous swiping behavior. Notice how the males tend to swipe always to the right. Look at their battle postures. Look at them clicking. The MTA pulls a Fiverr on a woman with a voice: Let’s keep personal devices personal. Turn your phone to silent. Later in a foreign bedroom a mouth is on your mouth, a hand is on your mouth, your roommates are pretending sleep. I’ve never seen it this before. Call me again now. The data centers catch the honey, spin it into threads: gossamer coats the city, swipes in many colors. Look at the click men go. Look at their wives. The data centers drink the heat from the earth, Icelandic geotherms and alphabets, their bodies are warm like a person’s, like a thrush. I am the bush they wander into. I am the pap in their long thin spoon. Everywhere the humming takes the shape of screens, takes the shapes of cocktail hours, takes the latex in its hands. Everywhere bees’ tongues are out for thirsting. They dance to show their history, the spot the honey’s kept. The data center spreads, an osmosed cell. Its name is my name here, its bodies move for me. I’ve never known another way now.

It arrives on a container ship named progress. It is a didactic name, someone is a German romantic, you are tired of its topoi. You learned this word at college or from the Internet, the same thing now. You are a montage assembled awkwardly from baby photos, popular posts, the shape of your genitals, the names of your parents. What size coat should you order? Will it be big enough for your social media followers, or should you buy one size up? Nonetheless the parcel arrives. It is unprecedented no matter when it comes. Even if it comes again, you will be wearing a different coat. You will have had egg rolls for breakfast again. The apparatchiks say as much on the shopping mall loudspeakers, but you do not listen, you are buying a coat. Downstairs a choir is singing in the atrium. They have already bought their coats. It is a Good Day for love. You feel it in the air. It is spring, the fountains are imitating spring, the Torah says maayan in an impure abjad, your Casper mattress is arriving in a week. You are confident you’ll sleep forever. When a woman in a pastel coat walks by, you feel you’re in a movie. A stranger hands you a box and runs, before objections. It’s lighter than it looks. Light breaks out and so are you. When you fall to earth as snow, how will you Tweet about it? All that is left are your Louboutins. Bees see the red and think of honey. A different container is opening to a different truck now, you cannot read the star signs. Mercury is retrograde, your coat is on remainder. Nevertheless we persevere. Perceval has many names and one is progress. What is it that ails you?

It arrives from the tongue of a dead man. The bones of the dead have brought us here and no Where else. The fucks they gave: oh so many fucks, oh so many gave. And look now, Lord, on my Studio Apartment. And look now, Lord, on my data center Louboutins. Was it not just? Look at my CV. Look at my beautiful wife. A Prehensile thrumming is calling from the backyard. You look and the topoi are there, partying. They are playing techno music. They have found the Lord. It arrives as an evangel from the dead man’s tongue: it arrives on café Wi-Fi. I should have ordered Prime, I always order packages. I never see the same Prime twice. As long as I live, I’ll never see the end of it. Every sunrise is a dictator. Every song is a shopping cart. I buy the you I dream of being.

It arrives from Haifa on a slow long ship. It carries a camera. It never sings the same shoe twice. I swipe and never see the end of it. I marry my tongue to its honey. I dance slowly to show where I am. I am here, I am bathing in springwater, the second temple is nowhere. I am lost before I’m forgotten, I am home under each sea. This is not German Romanticism, this is eschatology. The curve of a body carries us everywhere. What cannot be held? The port is an open mouth for everyone. Our mouths are the ships we travel on. Our mouths are spring. I show this where I am.



This poem was first published in Prelude Magazine.


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