Margin of Terror
i’m not your mailman but i know where you live. market research has made you immortal. i’m a fog on your house of mirrors, a drag on your merry-go-round. a safecracker. a safe cracker. a man with his tongue in your ears. a spider who enters your internet. a government. an earwig drawn to your underwear drawer. your transvestite gettysburg ip address. a pistol palace with raunchy guards. america’s varicose veins, the bloodclot in its brain. the gray tits of dawn over your appleless orchard. a keychain bible piercing your lips. your oilslick emphasis. the ozone layer you don’t remember. a snot rag constitution. your carpet tarpit. the severed black tail of miss waldron’s red colobus served on a rainforest 2 × 4. your hysterical stenographer. the controlled demolition of your world trade center. a taser brushing your reefer teeth. queef of baghdad, queef of england, your always identical menu. the gagging goggles of your internal gestapo. death is your only insurance. i’ve sharpened my knives. i’m not your doctor but i’ll take your life.
America the Poem
hold your horses and cut the crap: the almighty dollhouse has spoken! welcome to the all white meet-and-greet, a nuclear overreaction to our plastic propaganda. i read on tv we live in the world’s most fortunate cookie, a complex apartment in an apartment complex. the ceiling is leaking but rain’ll be worth money someday. the barcode is down the hall to your right; please swipe yourself before you leave. these implants are killing me, but if it keeps me safe! there goes that old alligator with the banana in his ear, off to type up his report. the intersection has eyes if you don’t. don’t pass out in your passport photo or you’ll be blurry in real life and you’ll never catch a plane. my baggage claims everything’s heavier now. i can barely flip open my phone and the sound quality’s like scraping my eardrum with razorwire. i’m ready to retire at thirty-five; time’s wasted me so i can’t waste time.
Triumph of the Willing
third world war against us, capital US us, so us in the US against the US in us are fucked. enter an agent of chaos in the muddle of good versus legal. with bees flying out my cheeks and ebony anemone eyes. a bag of nostrils over my shoulder, a bone in my cigarette holder. an army of bipolar bears. ohmigod it’s avant-garde. a nonlethal spasm disorders your organs at the hands of an armored tuxedo. a gasmask orgasms, headlocks a dreadlock, distorts a reporter, threatens a veteran of foreign wars. hold it, kid hitler, i got a grenade for you. i parade through the gutter dipped in butter to drip on his uniform corn. i hurl camouflage samsonite luggage at the propellers of fiance, just to be an asshole. i’ll fix me a human casserole in the ultimate world bank parody. don’t thank me, i’m just a role model, bathing in lunatic fringe. i cringe on the ledge of my credit card while pitiful capitalists duel with the lower caste. it’s hard to be a saint but i enjoy the work; anarchy’s more than its cracked up to be. i keep squares outside my inner circle and only roll with my apostles. i ain’t a mess, i’m a messianic pessimist, up against you against us in the US against the US in us. i could drop a cop with a rock in a sock, or pop a glock at a stockbroker’s heart, or clock the president with a shoe, but the agent of chaos is useless against you.
GARRETT CAPLES is the author of Power Ballads (Wave, 2016) and Retrievals (Wave, 2014), among other books. He's an editor at City Lights, where he curates the Spotlight poetry series, and is the co-editor of Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New & Selected Poems by Frank Lima (City Lights, 2016), Particulars of Place by Richard O. Moore (Omnidawn, 2015), and The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (California, 2013).