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   t a n k    t o p

--- B O B   P E R E L M A N

The remote isn't that big a deal

But I'm asking. Do you have the remote? It was right here

Are you sitting on it? Check

Look under the corpse. That's where it usually is

You just don't want to get up

I don't need to get up. I'd feel it

You are becoming a serious corpse potato

I'd feel it

I would love to see what else is on

It's under the corpse

Pathetic. We both want to see what else is on. This is terrible

But "terrible" doesn't automatically mean I'll want to see the thing you think is unterrible

Isn't that another reason for you to look?

It's another reason for you. In fact, why don't you look for no reason?

Just get up and change it then. Are you too paralyzed without the remote to get up and do what the remote does?

No, the thing about things is that they remain things, if not always just the thing But a person, perhaps playing with a thingee perhaps not it doesn't matter even if one has a thing about certainty and still can appreciate the mutability of the whole thing It's a good thing and therefore



Going into Iraqi refugees was the last thing on most investors' minds but suddenly that was where all the money had gone First thing anybody knew the sun had really set this time, gone down for good

It has the unshakable presence of a bad dream except you can feel pain a monster telethon with no mute

Bad preaching and worse theology a marriage everyone should have seen coming with porn the only commodity still behaving itself

Somewhere in the extreme back yard the fastest machines are rattling the cage of the enemy nation state du jour even as our own is being rattled

There's a noble symmetry in human endeavor. Two hands, two eyes, desiring mouth All that's desirable desiring

But this other thing is not viewable

secret fraternity torture with all details in denial but apparently shot on site

That's the current poetics You can't imitate it and it doesn't have a plot The present is where they bury people and where people are born --very young, as Zukofsky says and he would have known

dream narrative with the usual neocon displacements how the head pronoun was forced to gather shrieks of enemy combatants in a golden cup THE REMOTE

Lord's willing only to obeyers roped in a circle parents watch for the scantest things humane hate based on group gods

Heaven understands the catalogue of methods Shock as burning good with a hot Messenger irons dripping acid the skin is where Its will alights torture prayer of that private Iraq

And with the new elected of course cutting out tongues for personal rape strength


You may understand the meanings but these words are beyond anyone's control

The words are all good it's the meanings that aren't

Troops part of holiday scene as primal anxiety parts waves paints them red

swimming into speech with characteristic splashes but leaving something to be desired

Please return to your sets we are encountering nation states rending flesh

A second trip to the store and still the bank is muddy

Placard scrawled with old headlines hung around the neck of the dying outsider

Reception's the only religious concept left the terminator's face personal at last corrections page 2 next day

It's easy to save things on a computer anywhere else is a problem

Pixilated centerpieces with our enraged siblings we have lost the social portion of our meaning

Force at a distance annihilating all that's known to a Diebold vote in the Green Zone


Complacencies of the money shot as she or he, whichever is wanted robe loose, lazily rubs the poor box while the decor stands as still as the forest primevil in medium focus.

The viewer turns around in a controlled mental circle like a dog getting ready to rest but more advanced, thanks to evolution and the intelligent design of the couch


the empty store glimpses of bruised, twisted, torn out

Get organized or is just plain "is" the only verb allowed anymore?

If I "am" then you "are" Or we could compromise We "might be" "if all goes well"


I make my signature gesture of including you by underlining my solitary position here in the center. How are you —not all of you—just you, there in the yellow? What's your name Rosemary I mean your real name?

Water? Walter. I'm sorry. Not that your name is Walter. It's a perfectly good name. I wouldn't say great. Walter Cronkheit: now that's not bad. News is literature that stays news. Not bad. Applause.

Walter, you say you open books to find out what's going on? Don't we all. Now here's a question: Is the world is natural? Rosemary? Evangeline? I guess it's going to be a long night. Whoever you are you have no idea? You're not either I bet. Natural. Laughter.

Hand me a question will you, Ed? And I know it's Ed. Laughter. They're not laughing at you they're laughing with you, Ed.

Okay, here's one. Why aren't there any women torturers?

Because there aren't any women. Oh, there are now? Who writes these anyway?

OK. OK. Why aren't there any men torturers? I give up. Because there aren't any men? Laughter. Sorry, Walter I forgot about you.


There's really nothing on. A conveyer belt with packages on it

This particular lunch is free but you better watch everyone's mouth

The master serves a free lunch without sequence or consequence all you can eat it's edible there's ice water medics available

And after lunch there are a certain number of hospital beds but there's nothing on Instant replay's useless

Our master is an angry god behind the face very angry someone's done some very wrong things

Bodies given over to orgies of obedience with gas in the tank always

And the entire region watches the operation before the Super Bowl Republicans completely tender toward biology, patience to hear the details the screw holding the bones together while the ligaments learn to knit

The operations out of Mosul are virtuoso tedious avant-garde tasks that someone has to do reconnecting senses reactions abilities to read gestures make decisions pull triggers all shredded into fried rice

That's for the avant-garde medics to deal with Let the experts publish their articles in their itty-bitty journals

Fried *rice*, just a metaphor a mashed up body social ribbons of information as delicate as yours, tattered and ripping

He went "into this period" "praying for strength to do the Lord's will," praying that he be

"As good a messenger of His will as possible," adding that He prays also "for personal strength," And not forgetting, finally, to ask "for Forgiveness."


Evolution started in the 19th century No real reason And stopped in the 21st No real reason

So now we have to go back and defend the past which has become such a dump

Grab your bananas, men, and squeeze!

Bang your chests when you hear beats

he's playing good shepherd on the pig farm again

Why do nameless trees under the mindless sky of the precognitive president always have to take up the slack?

Of what? Why does now have to be history's nap time the ferocious sleepers saying anything to keep hold of the monetary public which is everybody so they can hunt in private bombing the extras smell of burning profit in a plastic fork

To the faces behind the screen he makes the secret sign to eat what's there as it disappears into some unseen account, trading good views for shows of force racheted up by the eternal boredom of the entertained, fleeing the future, sulking in the reruns

And if you can identify with that then you're already to Expert level

where your only nemesis is random storage

and your modus operandi is a news story

denied, a detail a day weeks sucked down

minutes sorted by Up Yours into episodes of Gotcha

as told to Fuck You a presentation of You Already Swallowed

And so clothes on

or off the cliff or on

live or tape delay

life delay or now

never missed the boat

or tossed on the high pitched seas of megalopolitan systematic chance

what's to lose telling power to leave its names outside?

This is when the doors are open Offer good today only

No loopholes, nothing you wouldn't want to be in the same room with

The chief forensic pathologist told me Jamadi was alive and well when he walked in. The SEALs were accused of causing head injuries before he arrived, but he had no significant head injuries-certainly no brain injuries that would have caused death

He had injuries to his ribs. You don't die from broken ribs. But if he had been hung up and had broken ribs, that's different

Asphyxia is what he died from-as in a crucifixion

The plastic bag could have impaired his breath, but he couldn't have died from that alone

If his hands were pulled up five feet-that's to his neck. That's pretty tough. That would put a lot of tension on his rib muscles, which are needed for breathing. It's not only painful-The muscles tire, the breathing function is impaired, so there's less oxygen entering the bloodstream

The hood would likely have compounded the problem, because the interrogators can't see his face if he's turning blue. We see a lot about a patient's condition by looking at his face. By putting that goddam hood on, they can't see if he's conscious. It also doesn't permit them to know when he died

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2006 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |