The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

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MAY 2020 Issue


the wonders of face time

liking some people and liking what they say are different things
i find i like in a noncorporeal way the faces talking on flat screens
among them my face which detached from my body repulses me
though I remember what I said I sounded smart it seems

i remember the bidemensional faces of my conlocutors
but i only vaguely remember the memorable things they said
already concentrated in a forgotten tweet and gone
it's all postmortem we are agreeable articulate and dead

what is a face without a body scared eyes open mouths
saying words that must have somehow issued from a body
that may or may not have existed one time at high tide
flat faces and flat bodies squished on lab slides

and if there is a body on the screen words do not matter
only the question of these tides and what makes them rise and fall
if violent weather sweeps the internet and suddenly it's dark
don't look for your body it left for the future on the departing ark

first they came for your memory and they assured you
that you can retrieve it any time even better without the wet
emotions that enveloped things in their time their always bad
timing and that dehydrated now they tasted bland but wise

then they came for your libido after saturating it with flat porn
that left behind diabetics craving sugar unable to use their inborn grace
next they came for your hands and feet twisting in anxious gyms
they assured you there are tapes you can always watch or else

when they came for your ears and tongue there wasn't much left to take
they left you a finger an eye and a mouth to say these things and wag
this must be heaven cry the eggs being scrambled by the big machine
we can retrieve our bodies when we are not dead it's only quarantine

sirens in queens

In exile in Tomis Ovid wrote letters to Augustus
about the painted natives and the brutal winters
there were physicians and a Lyceum in Tomis
a Greek seaport of vivid spectacles and goods.

Augustus received Ovid's Tristae and ignored
the poet's exaggerated plaints and sorrows
and enjoyed his gloomy verse of the province
Rome was much safer without the amorous lech.

Exiled to the Ozarks I aroused pity in New York
The City as its inhabitants called it for its splendors.
In the Ozarks survivalists juggled snakes in caves.
I had two caves saw snakes there was no doctor near.

In Siberia Pasternak the doctor was kidnapped
by armies to tend to their wounded and their goals
that were as hard and cold as their winters
and out he trudged in the movie through the snow.

Some plagues were real some were not
in retrospect many people died in history's show
for the historians heirs poets and film makers
there is no better subject than great distance

social or forced or voluntary or just geographical
people willing and unwilling to grow the space between
others even lovers kin or parts of their own selves
distance is the only subject to sing and emote for.

Under house arrest in Bucharest
there was a policeman watching at your door
if you got sick and needed to get to the hospital fast
you just called your guard and got there in a jiff.

Under house arrest in Queens
everyone is in their own dens listening to sirens
if you get sick nobody will come for you
by the time you hear your siren you'll be stiff.


Andrei Codrescu

Andrei Codrescu is exorcising CoVid in Queens near Corona Park. He is the winner of the Ovid Prize and wrote No Time Like Now: New Poems.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

All Issues