Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!
—David A. Johnston
If not for my black light and ankle monitor
I couldn’t spot our majesty
spattered and shot toward a larger one constantly.
You have to track it, through volatile architecture
started in one place, continued in others
finished elsewhere if at all.
Though I myself can hardly see, for what I suppose is
our majesty invades me repeatedly
moving up and down.
Everything within this cloud
as arc of existence: map of the coast the length of the coast
an opening strap of air across
the patterned hardwood breathes. I sit here surrounded
by screens. I’m always defending something.
Don’t get me wrong, I daydream like everyone else
but I do it with my body facing our majesty
so everyone thinks I’m working.
A rice culture, deeply backgrounded, waits in ambush
crystal yet burning.
Shall we smash it? Certainly we should not. And yet.
The Shogunate at Edo poles a lamp around what is not skin
but a skintight suit, where the actor’s tattoo articulates
the subject of our majesty—circular
engaged in demented and repetitive behaviors.
In love, in its way.
No way are we content with some bush-league majesty.
Arcs we revere: devotion, companionship, duty.
Honor. In this majesty we bury police dogs, whose emotions
were always subject to action.
In this majesty we’re digging a series of lakes
to instill a sense of tranquility.
We’ll live there like we do here—standing resolute but more revealed
as time bends toward a polar diameter.
Solar wind moans in the amplifier
and a deep sound coming out
of the sacrificial ox, prepared its whole life for sacred duty.
You know what gets me really majesty?
A clothed woman embraces a naked man. Imagine how
her cardigan feels upon his skin.
Hell, all divisions are compromises
and crowds are powerful wells of information
from which a justice might arise
if you force it.
Years earlier on the docks, behaving in a way
I only now can name, I discovered my family’s majesty
in my art and teaching, two broken windows
oh god. Where else had I stashed it?
In the folder named “texas” and the folder named “lawsuit.”
In “no mercy for peon’s sore dogs.”
In a series of abstract propositions consisting of two premises
and a conclusion, only a few of which are legit.
“Some families are immortal; some families are ruined; so
some mortals are ruins,” is not
while “some houses are angelic; all angels are shameful; so
some are born into shame,” is.
But I love my sister. She still has time to change.
Our majesty roots out error and sin and weakness, roving
like a torch over the world.
You yourself might get a peek at it, swiveling in your chair at the plant
caressed by the utter clarity of its manner
speeding toward a final capitalism
wherein clarity is the condition of light speeding to the top of a slum.
We are treated in violent ways after death
Bulldozers smear our majesty across umber hills. The furnaces’
stank in the evenings eases our mind.
Our majesty treasures us—I know, for I am in the business. What I do
makes you precious. I waste nothing, not even the toenails.
I’ll tell you more about it after the meal
(which is unreal, by the way—fresh, local, simple).
Our majesty might seem brutal but it’s just a technique.
One star devours another, one currency pulverizes another
in an arena where everything fails, and the stars’ dim light scatters into time
and Geist. Homer’s blindness.
Not that it exists, but that we are drawn to the idea of it.
Not the star but the age of the light
stretched out, to signify its constantly moving toward us.
Under certain circumstances it still gives us a degree a hope.
It still blows the petals that form us
as the river, source of a thin fog, blooms and blows us
down its banks. Flat grey stones are the source
of the river’s energy, and the cemetery’s.
It occurs to me I am a cemetery—ten thousand in the hole
somewhere in the neighborhood.
Hundreds of cars whiz by me every day.
I’m guilty only of exceeding compassion
though for one espousing a “brotherhood of man”
I have awesome reserves of malice.
And that is where our majesty finally begins.
The unit of civilization is the city, corn the kernel, prison the cell.
Myth, the landscape both natural and manmade, of great age, suggesting a past
charged with the labor of great willful people.
I can hear them crashing through the wooded hillside.
They impose themselves upon our will
so I smash that majesty with a hammer, and smash that hammer
with another, bigger majesty.
So I feel ecstatic all day
extracting answers to all the right questions.
Will I know you when I see you? Did you get that thing I sent for you?
How is the life and the sub-life?
Shall we shake with laughter? When will you step outside of your body?
The healing power of our majesty is the only thing
that can save my family now.
Are we carried by scarabs to underground lakes?
Blasted to mist in a demimonde?
Speak, beast. Why won’t you speak?
I’m asking you.
The earth’s plates flow forward in time
liquid sound everywhere
like lead guitar.
to expats in flip flops,
the crests are a series of hills, though
we cannot see over
in which grebes & ketches pass
wing on wing)
a dugout battling at
the peak of a mountain,
An Oedipal process
is caught up among us—failure
as means to success,
or prolonged regression to a mean
via nautical railway
revolving under evening sun,
set into the middle of the sea.
73 Screenplays for Nightmare City
It will be apparent that it is difficult to discern
which properties each thing possesses in reality.
Beneath the freeway one man strangles another on the hood of a Charger. They struggle over a revolver, in accordance with our culture and innermost predicament. We love this film, which searches for them no matter what direction it moves.
Film that is a litany of artifacts dragged behind the rest of our evolution: jumbotron with figures raising products to the sky, ED sufferer slings a football through a tire, John Yoo. Our grandchildren blame us for not having killed them when we had the chance.
Hazmats torch the corpse. Upon Puget Sound like births come years.
Bring me a goblet of something cool and refreshing. Bring me a fist on a plate and a head with tresses. Servants should wear masks of flesh. The walls, crushed velvet. Amuse me.
For it is the single finest garment I have ever seen.
Everything’s a joke. We were fifteen.
An example like a Pict—made sacred by history, the retarded progress of the forest where we wait, measuring the earth.
Then there’s the dead man speaks, deranged by history and poverty and shame, though I myself don’t believe in it. I rampage without shame like some wild pig in the woods where leaves sift down. His voice cracks and sways like the trees.
This film goes on all evening, is a process: one voice across another, fainter in another room. Another home, garage filling with exhaust. In the basement I lift weights.
The director dons his headdress. His power over the villagers is immense. Even his tattoo has a power to induce hallucination in others and himself.
You have sold out. I live in a tree, he says, in the torture of the woolly jumper by which he can be recognized.
Then a presence on the moon mutilates the rain.
10,000 sigh at once on grass, on burnt dirt and grass. Nothing scary or dangerous.
Digging like a pig, Oscar violates our crawlspace to find something, anything of use. Oh Oscar. He would go absolutely anywhere.
And therefore cannot ever be contemporary, or have ever been, though he lives and rides through Spain even now, his armor upstaged by chintzy junk punched out of plastic for three cents apiece, displayed on bedsheets at Sol. Film as eternal anachronism.
Out of French festival circuits arrives an archetype of drug-fueled sadism.
As a gentleman emerges from a hedge, cradling a bag of pornography. His wardens hunt him.
In early stillness, a man’s mustache flinches above the Metro Section. Sunlight through his monocle lights a crone’s rags on fire.
As she is shaken in a bag of repetitions by history.
Or smash cut a sofa in Austin, grip of a total sentimentality. Looking through a screen door into rain, Tambourine Man plays on the turntable and she is ruined by the melting of our youth.
Film Set in Jupiter Florida, where I was involved with a program for teens. Disturbed teens, they called them. The State of Florida ran this program; it made me want to dig a hole and die in it. One day the counselor had us cooking crepes and a girl was burned badly by the oil.
Art becomes as nourishing and durable as ham. Or soon will. Its piglet snuffles acorns on a hillside in Spain. The Pig of the Arts.
And certain it can hear me even though it has grown late, even through its dramas.
This is me embracing my inner svengali: on peyote in an Ocala Florida portalet, chanting kaatu geelarg mulakataa. The frequency makes a strand of poplars grow. We gotta light the shaman’s hair on fire to see.
Monica is an inventor of great ability, working on a lunatic invention. When Ross goes to her and places his hand on her shoulder she tells him what she is inventing; in her invention he sees her mind. She is the smartest man he knows. She will have to be the first to go.
Also better take a good look at Jesus, in his kitsch for centuries. His image alone proof of our condition, Nazarene selfie trash.
Myth becomes one pattern in a montage, though myth itself is accidental, like the plot of this film. It arrives from wherever: war in the Balkans, body of the freak.
Which I will as well, if I get off of this mountain. I’ll roll up at the cabin, white as driven snow, with a skull full of ram’s blood. I’ll cut loose on them docks all night.
Turn up the sound. You feel that sound? Yo, you get good sound on this thing. What are we doing here, in Franco’s Spain, making that sound? I can’t remember what my mind was like before it.
Two longskirts in a circle—their long skirts form a gate through which pass the ka of the deceased. When they hear the sound their arms do this.
As a rescue plane signals its countrymen cannibals, snow-blind and stranded, ravenous for their own shared flesh and home.
But they have to dump the Cessna in a cornfield. Dead stalks beating at the belly.
In the distance a massive black vessel battles through a cornfield. “A massive black vessel batters at my cornfield,” Ross says, eyeing his wife under shelter. “A vessel more massive and black than we can ever know.”
The dead actor Chris Penn forces me to drink his homemade absinthe in hell.
Face down in our grave.
From the fields.
To much acclaim a senator wades in radioactive debris, to prove it is not a sea.
Half-brothers parley beneath the Twin Towers, the one on the left ferrety with debt. A stone of obscene circumference rolls toward them.
Knife-in-hand shoots forward, as it was foretold. Slow and slower movements of grain. The feeling coming on again.
Actress onstage, emitting eros through the gallery. A svengali trains her voice and controls her singing hypnotically. He’s the one who’s doing it. Their faces touch through dark. Only in the very end is she saved by her protégé.
Or, the wheel breaks when she touches it. She is then beheaded and falls on a section of mosaic depicting autumn, 2nd C. AD.
Film as repository for outmoded ideas and tone-deaf polemics. You feel like you’ve seen this type of thing a million times. It may have been important a hundred years ago.
Alain Badiou, holding forth in a Crown Vic (thumb up toward God, index finger extended, hand cocked at the wrist as needed), riding all the way to 1968. An Arby’s reflected in his spectacles.
The DP’s images: bound and confirmed by pressure, stretched thin and made permeable, split by a scar down the middle. Every element is testicles. Haydn’s head is balls. The Twin Towers is balls. Metaphor is built to die.
But my son is the living son, and your son is the dead son.
The inferior white routine of the breakers and sand.
The risen ozone is, a persona Dwayne’s tattoo has ushered in. Levi groans so as not to be, a mere Moment in the Incan Calendar.
Black bears, booming from thickets in North Jersey watershed, present a danger of the utmost magnitude, a defect in our civic design. What have we done with our pedigree? What can be done to these frigging black bears?
Maybe a for-real snuff film, projected on a sheet tacked to the chalet wall: ingenue, autoerotic with a necktie til she dies. Her face dragged with shadows, eyepricks wet with light. Face down nude on a futon.
That she may live la petite vie again.
Betsy is one of the Ice Giants who reside in the Circle of Treachery, behind the bar at the Belmar. She paces her prison alongside the other giants of old: Mat, Peg, Rod. Her icy breath will try to trap us with them for eternity.
Ed the owner sees this and says, “Let this round go down and confound their language, that they may not understand each another’s speech.” His sweats are around his knees.
Realizing what craven acts I done, I move west to the lands of Lompoc where I become the adoptive father of two boys. The sun explodes, the banks collapse, we are strafed by the history of civilization in shards.
Thus a chord invades the King’s English that thrives among delicious anxieties.
A new type of film draws the people of the county, who have not seen the sun in a thousand years, out of an adjacent, stinking swamp. They begin to resemble a swamp themselves, murmuring beneath partial sun. They push the issue. They get cheese, they get ham, they get going.
No one foresees a swish pan to the Spanish Anarchist who refused to be martyred, who hauled herself from rubble, whose uniform rose over and over like a moon. A persecution in the opposition, a tide and a shrub bloom.
Coherent launching of a sequel in which my mother did not die so soon.
The maids’ gowns are beautiful for their own sake. Fireworks spur each other wider into night sky they’re transfixed by, in bokeh and gauze this film revokes any moment, bares them in bad palette, wind just whistles in their mouths.
They are blind fish, crept from caves so thin and milky even one lightmote smites them, saps, is treacherous.
In the end every audience should flood from its theater, into its beds and names in agreement: the acting was terrible, with the exception of the speechless brute.
Audre Lorde’s Afro Moving Through an Airport. Billy the Kid’s Head in the Mob Up in Aether.
Two fops duel in front of a stock ticker. Market’s up.
Which is reborn as random electrons floating around Detroit.
Fever dream of fucking into which the entire phenomenological curvature of the earth—partly visible through hot gas wash—collapses.
Once something is a known decoy—i.e. a trope—don’t the corrupting compromises just pile on with each successive use?
Slaves: almost everything can serve metaphorically for them, while they themselves cannot serve as anything else.
I have said this before and will say it again as long as I can talk: if we can’t get the right producers for these movies we will wash right out.
The Challenges come at us bigger than ever before, constantly bumping into each other, their power diffuse and unclear, inhibiting openness and transparency. Their functions overlap.
James Capozzi is the author of Country Album (Parlor Press 2012), which won the New Measure Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New Republic, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.