No Knowing

p
o
e
m
s

“That a really accurate calculation or estimate may not exist, that the procedure is pure guess-work, or simply traditional and conventional, happens even to-day in every form of capitalistic enterprise where the circumstances do not demand strict accuracy.”*

 

I have recurring
dreams that unreadable blisters
are growing out of my skin
then on Roosevelt Island
I had to ask Megan if the water was dangerous
before I believed it, the breach
of saltwater over and over
on New-Englandine rocks
calling swimming swimming out
touching my eyes
small suns and television
treasure or teeth
the coming summer perhaps
the flowers dying directly
end up back in the leaves
if the roots work the way they’re supposed to
and the wind isn’t too redistributive
no knowing
how optimism started in the flowers
and ripened with them too I fell
for a powerful charlatan
into a future the flower-parts
smelling better flattened
that Dickinson poem with the bubbles
the charlatan my self
those days
when history has been erased between
today and a particular past
I’ve thought of beauty as straight-up
fullness the rich
guano in a parking garage the open
hall of its foyer with concrete stairs
scaffolding its side
old
black
slime deposits agglomerate to gumslops
and isn’t it
a gray cool cavern that connects the worlds
literally here between car and sun
but any worlds, self-slaughter and rose
was I restless watching MTV
those open summers interlocking
Minesweeper and the gun cabinet
I learned “writers’ block” from the internet
a wall-to-wall carpet
pink it was possible
to hide things there
a notebook under the backcushion
of my father’s chair
careful
charts of biblical genealogy
knotting the first pages
so no one would check the rest
one day
I will make the twenty-eight
hours of travel to Jellyfish Lake
as an offering for what I survived
elsewhere
a lagoon of jellyfish
rising before dawn when unwitting I
dove into them and swam to the jetty
should have killed me
I was also moving for the sun
a healthier algae on the rocks a prickly
resistance from the coral
blooming venom in my feet
I’ve got to keep working through this
saying
slime everywhere incorrectly
appears like health
if not then don’t write poems
I’m waiting for the lavender dove
to afternoon my window
it comes regardless of my hunger
which I submit if trained prepares for love

 

 

* This poem is part of a larger series called “Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (translated by Talcott Parsons),” named for the text from which this epigraph is taken.

Jennifer Nelson is the author of Aim at the Centaur Stealing Your Wife.

You Might Also Enjoy

How Are You?

Steve Healey


Identity is part of the problem, although we have ways of verifying certain persons, putting our finger on them.

stories

From “All the Houses”

Often when I tell people I grew up in Washington, D.C., they ask me if I grew up in the city proper or in the suburbs.

stories

Baffler Newsletter

new email subscribers receive a digital copy of our current issue.

Further Reading

 May 2

Obama’s Wall Street payday isn’t a mistake. It burnishes the centrist credentials of his brand of Democratic politics with the donor class.