Cathy Wagner: 4 poems

  Cathy Wagner

  Four poems

  JPR 07

A guild of professional rhapsodes asserting proprietary rights

Take a Latinate noun
and verb it Germanically.
Swell a homely wholesome Germanic word
into abstraction via Latinate modifier.
Use lewd changes of scale
or synthetic-fleshly phrasebots,
economies of binary and scalar
adjustment, clashing gears
that arrest the mind machine.
Call that style.

And / or make sure what
shouldn’t go into a poem Should go
in      and what shouldn’t be the form
of the poem      Should be its form
and what shouldn’t be the
venue for the poem
Should be its venue       and the poem
should be the host for      Disease
the poem should be Debt
a promise       That the current and the
given are unfinished, are
unreal in their pretense to
be the way
they aren’t.

And when a poet is embarrassed about privilege
the poem can market guilt.

So folded, tired,
pretend to sing

for the difference
between plant and plantation or
factory and fact.

Plant and factory are synonyms.
A plant’s where growth becomes
Available for use.

The difference between a modifier
And a noun is what you do to
Me / one / another.
Some nouns are made over into making
(Plantation, factory).
Some nouns abide
As objects in their manners (desk).

Nouns made into places that beckon time and making
(‘Factories,’ ‘plantations’)
Are structures built of actions.
They operate upon their modifiers
(Shoe factory, sugar plantation)
In ways that ‘desk’ cannot in the term
‘Shoe desk.’

I don’t like this plant
Factation session. Where to
Plant the factory.

Very close to what you want.
Or far away
If it should make a stink, and then
We’ll need to plant transport
To bring it here or there.      The planted
Stays on site.

As I’m a modifier
I should inject something
Personal here like what’s
Implanted in my
Goal of death/My death of goal
Lessness that originates
In thirst, what shit.

Hap the coming sunstorms
will spark a new ice age
and congeal wet warming globe.
What do you
future science know.
Will you be
the end of fact plantation.

At the end of fact plantation
We see and you.
We end, see you.
And you see
We end, if you
Are not the we that this
We was.

Do you tell people when you’ve
had a magnificent massive shit,
the kind that would
fill four or five strong condoms?
I wish for you a person you
can tell that to and they be glad.

Crime Rhyme

When a

Name or a color is applied to a surface it
Mimes for its

Tamers its being for
Them. Hang

Blame on a line between
Aim and event.

Rhymes have to be held apart from themselves by
Time or go raw and unheard.      A

Game without
Time can’t be fixed and a

Game without
Players is fair.

I was raping things that didn’t matter

not as a way of disciplining them
but to comfort myself, to establish
myway as the highway, and how great
to seek comfort where nothing
seems to hurt, I damage innocently,
in no sense
can I be wrong.
As a babe I sucked my mother’s breasts
and they were sore, they cracked
and when I pulled the plastic off
the ears of corn laying on green styrofoam
or laying on the nonproprietary
name for styrofoam, because
I would prefer to anchor
my talking in a named object
not a brand, though
things I rape are
branded as not mattering
in the / my perceivable grid,
and if I turn them to use
I do so privately, a pleasure to
spread their green slits with my fingers
and move inside of them, and do it
again—when the ears of corn
came off the stalk
a chemical signal alarmed
right down to the roots, and signaled
an increased absorption
of water through the xylem /
live in the world and hurt
the living lining, that’s how I
paid my debts
when I was tied spreadeagled
to the blades of a huge steel fan
and my soft teardrop
boobs hung down.
A field of babies on the gym floor
needed to nurse
but I was too high up.

I have an angle to denounce

and it is the thirty degrees directly behind me which spread out to contain a great deal I cannot see which is frightening because eventually the area that begins at a point on my back becomes wide as the world and curves with space to spread into the area in front of me so I am blind without knowing it.



Catherine Wagner’s latest book is Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012). Recent poems appear in Black Box, Lana Turner and elsewhere, and recent prose appears in World Social and Economic Review of Contemporary Policy Issues and Jacket 2. She directs the creative writing program at Miami University in Ohio and is president of Miami’s AAUP Advocacy Chapter, an academic labor advocacy group.


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