Saturday, July 11, 2015

Headless VII


Or is it a march
Not for civil rights
But of the socially dead
Charged to sing
For whose pleasure
Does the caged

What the phantom
Limb weighs
How it sounds  
The studium
Of their un-

Is it a march
For the “right to 
obscurity” (E. Glissant)
For the (un)dead to sound
Like the (un)dead where:

“it is the very incomplete, cut-off, broken, and incomprehensible nature of the aural, written, and visual remainders of the socially and civilly dead that qualify their semantic depth and social urgency, and that signal the counter-historical, counter-epistemological, and counter-pedagogical value of their muzzled and submerged transmissions from the many unmarked graves of American racial genocide"? (Dennis Childs)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Headless VI

Imagining all your ghostfaces
Like they are walking down the national mall
A million ghostface march
Moaning until
Their subtones shake every edifice
Until there is recognition
However invisibly
Until there is representation
However poorly
Imagining a procession of them
Faces covered in blood
And piss and shit and mimetic stubble
Receding into the photographic distance
Like in Piper’s voter booths
Their light boxes like an anti-window
To look out on the nation
To observe the march not of progress
But of something else
Of the socially dead
With their sad eyes and their non-existent chins
With their invisible ears
Like we weren’t even supposed to see them
Our view being obstructed by
The determinate negation of its frame.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Headless V

--for Rit Premnath
Measured by no stick
No witness but the petals
Prepared in water
Ringing their now time now
Their rose rim of the wound
Your body is
But is it art
What it structures
And what you can’t control
Contingent upon
Their violence?

Measureless like no stick leans
Like your art
Of sticks measures no body
This betrays a body somewhere structuring
The violence that controls us
Where there is only the rose
The substitutable petals
His body
Could be taken for yours

The car slows
Asks if you are looking for work
There is no refusal left
To this corpse
But to sell flowers
There is no refusal left
To this flesh
But to lay down
And sleep
To withdraw
Into that emptiness
That void of labor power

What recognition
Exceeds these flowers
Your measureless body exhibited
On a roadside or sidewalk somewhere
Your resemblance to the one
This violence is structured by
We keep falling but
He can’t even fall
This one
Born like an angel in no time
Withdrawn where sleep
Gives shape to refusal

Where there is a difference
Between carrying
A stick and carrying
Where there is an art
Of mis/recognition
Of the bodies we can’t
Be substituted for.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Headless I

Am I an Afro-melancholic
You ask,
Yes, you are
But a joyous one
Living across the street
From a Confederate cemetery
No, actually, 
I think you are more like 
An Afro-goth
Shedding these shitty
Little tears on tin foil
Or are they stubble
Is this blood splatter
This grimace saying do
I matter
I will chop your head off
My hustler, my semblable, my hommie
Whose black frame frames whiteness
There is a blankness where the eyes should have been
Where the mouth should have been there is only
Infinite sadness 
Of the blood stained gate
There is witness
You can’t profile a ghost
If that’s what this is about
Or i.d. the light
When all you see is sunlight swallowed whole
Where there is no nose
Where nobody knows nobody
Hope crinkled
It reflected
All and nothing back
Told you about spirit and image.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Headless IV

–for Anna Vitale

What it matters
Whose dying
Who kills
And how it’s performed
What it matters
What name you were given
Where you come from
Detroit if you are working
Class or Black
If you made work
For your whole life
If the casket
Was open or if this is a studium
If this is a punctum
Who is wounded
By simply looking upon the body
What world-making
Process with which
We can identify
What unidentifiable bodies
The unrecognizeable face
And how it moves us
Getting up the courage for this
Revolutionary death
Getting up the courage to die
To keep dying every day
What structure of living would that subtend
When would that dying count
Who will it count for
What are we losing
When we lose you
What world is lost
What part of me, my world-making
What shadow of this social
Process to have contemporaries
For one’s death to be untimely
For there to be
A structure of kinship to support
Its signifying powers
For it not to be merely isolate
For it not to make further shadows on the sun
Of their radiant lives
For it to be public
And the responses to it to obtain
A public response
For one to deserve its meaning
For it to have such gravitas
So that it broadcasts others’ suffering
So that for others it becomes prophetic
And the loss of you is felt
As a loss of a part of them
So that you are not just a trace
That your muteness is loud
With the sources of their grieving
With our grievances
So that someone can say “our”
Because of you
That your exploitation was not in vain
That your being made inhuman
Was not in vain
That this was not just a blip
That your dying became a part of history
That it restructured
A universe of symbols
Or that for your corpse
They would burn down
The whole world
That they would
Stop both
Life and death.