Simeon Berry

Nix dreams of his death

in a kitchen underwritten
by cursive vanilla.

In the background,
the miniature TV

displays a pack
of ventriloquists

hooting mildly
as they take down

a gazelle.
The tall bodies

gather around him
in a muffled way,

making warm
parallelograms

of tobacco and wool.
But the world is

no longer the brown,
unthreatening theory

of an oboe. Without
the limitations

of his gaze, all
the cultural pleasures

become confused,
interpenetrated.

Torpid rappers
mumble among

bodkins and doublets,
and the atom smasher

in the garden maze
begins to get big ideas.

Nix landscapes the Grave of the Unknown Narrator

The point is to make it
three-dimensional.

He plants a border
of epistles, humming

a valedictory polka.
He wipes his brow.

More strata needed.
Less oleander in general.

He must admit he never
liked the Narrator. Not

much fun at parties.
Always wanting to

talk about the power
of folk dancing

and the capybara’s
sadness. Incapable

of serious distinctions
like the graceful

transition from golf
course to cemetery.

The turf is much
the same, but the holes

are handled differently.
He stands up and regards

the beige oblong
of turned earth.

However you lay
your body down,

the unreal estate
has its own demands.

Nix, Descending

As he climbs down
into The Query,

he carries only half
a sock and a fever
dream about pool—

a table full of dark orbs that sound
skeletal when they hit their opposite.

Night makes the chasm
into a scale model, a cubist
organ that’s been removed.

The wet karst has the shape
of every last building.

The abstract radiation from millions
of statues’s opiate stares. Not

everyone hates design like this.
But he was fashioned, made to

be swayed by sitcoms and the susurrus
of the studio audience. He feels guilty.

Men came here to
feed their brood,

to try not to lose
a hand or more.

Boys skulked in to swim with a nude,
sip illicit fizz from a can, and ask
something earnest and ignorant.

Act Three is him.
All the emptiness

gets now is a biped with no face
in the dark. The negative

cathedral grudgingly lights the way
down into the intended earth.

 

Artist’s Statement

These poems are from Nix, a book-length sequence which serves as the refracted biography of a doppelganger figure, a textual interloper drawn involuntarily into various genres and archetypes as it struggles with both narrative and gender instability. The book grew out of an attempt to set aside the primary materials of the self, and confront how we often fall in love with the linguistic environment around an idea, rather than the idea itself. “Nix” (i.e. nothing, nobody, negligible) is meant to complicate notions about originality, and make plain the shaky constructs of contemporary poetry.

Simeon Berry has been an Associate Editor for Ploughshares, and won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant and a Career Chapter Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. His work has appeared in Crazyhorse, AGNI, Colorado Review, Blackbird, DIAGRAM, The Iowa Review, American Letters & Commentary, and many other journals. His first book, Ampersand Revisited, won the 2013 National Poetry Series (Fence Books), and his second book, Monograph, won the 2014 National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press). He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.