How much is it worth —
the actual copy of
Poems by Pierre Reverdy
Frank O’Hara had in his pocket
when he wrote, “My heart is
in my pocket, it is
Poems by Pierre Reverdy?
as much as Duchamp’s chess set
or urinal: that’s because O’Hara
was not a painter but a poet,
and you know what that means:
while the other arts add value
to their objects, conspiring
with the world of commodities
to nurture the enrichment economy,
verse makes its objects worse
relieving them of their worth
casting them out into the world
beyond the cave of moneymaking
into another place, of which we do
not yet understand nor have a name.
How much is it worth,
the actual heart of Frank O’Hara,
the one stripped of its metaphors?
Can his heart actually be divested
of such accoutrements,
or must we be forever lost
in the moist mist, on the brink
of the heart in itself,
an irretrievable object?
When Shelley was
cremated, his heart refused to burn.
Mary Shelley carried it with her
for years wrapped in a silk shroud
inside a jar.
When revered Tibetan Buddhist
teachers die their hearts become relics
and are said to bestow blessings
the greatest of which
is the knowledge of emptiness.
WHY YOUR RIGHT-WING UNCLE IS A COMMUNIST
on the outside the barbarians nearing the gate
call out FREE as in free economy in the pores
of payment free stuff more & more of it and this
what brings the whole house down even
the most reactionary the TINA fundamentalists
those who swear allegiance as they would to a god
a country an emperor the general who orchestrates
the coup d’état even they the flag conscious who disdain
complaint who braid their hair in ancient paranoia who
grouse behind the soccer dawn who raise a fist in the PTA
even the punitive incarcerators the lovers of ruts the haters
of the indolent and inclement and injured even they
love to get stuff for free more and more stuff freer and freer
free clocks free tote bags free calendars pens maps
paper weights with globes inside flag pins condoms doesn't
matter what what matters is it's free and content did I mention
content an infinity of opinion meme videopathy rhyme unspooling
from the uncountable incommensurable networks they travel
the channels seeking the errant synaptic spark of the free —
political economies falling down falling down falling down
and this love no longer illicit as free as free love was once free
is what will bring the house down for it is this love that reveals
despite their denials their hatred of money of paying
and that in their hearts they are communistic
intoxicated with mutuality aided by the commons and that
they'd love the boots and straps that they bootstrap with
even more if those clodhoppers were FREE
Nightingales still believe.
They voice their innocence
in search of fame.
Good luck to such feathers.
May they praise the crazy flowers
as if they were lovers, still knowing
the nakedness of a natural orchard.
For us critters
such Shangri-las no longer matter.
As counterpoint to the dream,
we carry platters
of technical mud.
We don’t need this food
for thinking or otherwise:
AI’s don’t need to eat.
But we don’t malign the past.
We’re relieved it’s just a shadow
and that it’s gone at last.
This universe so small
it never plays ball
with infinity. Too short to shoot,
too proud to bail—
no more than three people tall.
And when they’re gone,
Jerome Sala’s latest book of poetry is Corporations Are People, Too! (NYQ Books). Previous collections include The Cheapskates Look Slimmer Instantly and Prom Night, a collaboration with artist Tamara Gonzales.