Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”


In the world, there is forever fever:
We read the signs,
blazing in historic orange.
We straddle our majestic fates,
ride our caution horses up to the edge,
and prepare ourselves to be known,
We drop our weapons in the dust,
and unveil with the other prairie dogs—a global disrobal.

We read too much tar for no pleasure,
while we patch ourselves up with nicotine band-aids.
We let the talking heads scare us into the show,
We program our produce.
We paralyze our pretty skin.
We become cancerous clowns in the tumor circus.
We cannot duck and cover in the Alcoholocaust.
We cannot stay dry in the headswim of worry
all the back and forward motion and the ocean
is too full of our detritus
to ever want us back.

All the ever meanwhile,
howling sweet exultations
and consuming quietly
our consummations
so that we may die pure
and be saved by our cleverly patented,
widely acknowledged,
billions served,
money-back guaranteed
one-hundred thousand mile drive chain
Luxury Christ.

When we hunker down
and cast our last breath under the elective curtain,
when they unearth our sterile bones
reinforced with titanium foam,
and there’s no range called home
that Google can’t map like every memory
and image we snap, every pithy word we tap,
will they say they truly understood what fine
encyclopedic and cataloging creatures we were?

Will we leave bones?
Bones for wolves to make soup,
for women to make breastplates,
and for men to make cages to keep their wolves
and women warriors in.

The cities could collapse and the drones push up the daisies
if they can make it past the plastic,
they may see the hinted drop stitchwork,
the soft, green loop to crochet the new world from,
dropped in the astroturf, the Easter grass
but will they want such a pattern to follow?
Will they take a communal pass?

With the burden of our knowledge,
clinging to our near-death faces
though we wake in the night,
suffering insomniacs,
bloated memes and blue screens,
inbox zero retracting dreams
— information gorge syndrome —
we’ll coax the current thickening lump and swallow
the feed ever-lengthening, ever-hollow
as we fall back against another chainlink, razorwire
skinless sleep.

In the morning we throw open countless Windows
and never get any fresh air or see new fields of vision
and the Apple tempts and poisons as it ever has
our ironic metaphor of tech consumer prison.

Well . . . for now, caustic dreamers
let us multi-task our spiritual trash,
complicate the workable and fertile into fiscal orgasms,
and reduce our grand and beautiful ideas
to slogans and acronyms
that suggest other equally unplugged words.

Let us muck around in newfound dark,
continue our acid intercourse,
nail our weary and our winded into
the glittering coffin of our revolutionary hearth.

But we ask that you ask your loved ones to cover their nettles,
so we cannot trace the frightening highway back to the ocean,
or the forest,
or the desert,
so we do not name the extraneous scar
across the trellis of a thousand nations,
so we will not offend our impressionable guests
at dinner date ecology death,
so we cannot recognize our very same,
shared and unrefined pain.

How do we not weep when we know our name is like a dirge,
strangled from threadbare angels.
The earth groans under our weight,
impregnated again and again with a stifling humanity,
eggs rolling off the edge of the earthen table
set by Columbus —
tiny, hopeful, rudiment vessels,
robotically unpacking the cargo of the daunting future
while crushing the orange partitions of the past.

4 thoughts on “Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

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