i. The Argument
- — St. Paul, Minnesota, Winter 1998
Every day the bubble’s growing, and we feel
the new money as it rivers through the city,
depositing jobs, apartments, the revitalized
geography. Growing up here, we know
the myth surrounding Selby/Dale,
where kids like us could shoulder-tap for beer
and hail sex from the corner. By the time I moved in
all that remained of the mystery was an attitude.
Even here we have art, a few cafés, ethnic
and upscale fusion cuisines, garden patios
(but all east of the corner, where the street makes
for the cathedral, the old families). The old
money of Victorian houses is erased by snow,
a white line expanding on my windowsill.
ii. The Summit
- — University of Minnesota Arboretum, Fall 1998
We meet outside the city to discuss the mind
of poetry, and crowning the speaker’s head,
the arboretum fills up the conference room’s
window: an epiphany of maples. The papery
consciousness of birch against the sky’s blue
concentration flags the roots of our connections.
But reading the daily papers — from New York,
London — was a form of recognition (but east
of the corner) that events would continue,
so the end of history was beginning to look
a lot like history. Stopping along the trail,
a single ornamental maple becomes the sole
object of attention. Around the maple, the day
is calm and clear. There’s an intimacy to this.
iii. Stray Cat
- — Fall 1998
History’s in the houses built along this street
In the café’s back room, there are three of us
behind the cathedral, on the hill above the city
me reading alone, so I hear their conversation
the historical, meaning not those who live here
One woman, a Croat, talks about a friend still
or have lived here — their families — for over
over “there,” what she heard, a young woman
a century. We buy up the historical to make
pregnant, and some men came-as always-
room for young professionals (white, European)
and afterward the town found all three dead:
for restaurants, shops, and condominiums.
child, mother, and what was placed in her womb.
iv. The Menu
- — Winter 1998
Plates of salmon, gravlax, cold-
smoked, hot-smoked, blinis, steamed
mussels, fennel bulb braised in Pernod,
carpaccio, extra virgin olive oil (even
at the edge of the capital … ), prosciutto-
wrapped melon, soup of the day, white
chocolate cayenne-spiced tenderloin
with lobster foam and white bean cassoulet,
( … we are inside the capital), slivers
of truffles, fresh catch flown in that morning,
blackberry, blackberry veal stock reduction,
winter vegetable risotto, cheeses, fresh
honeycomb, figs, desserts made daily,
wine cellar available for private parties.
- — September 26, 1998
The heart is weighty, you will prosper. Our hands
had to remain behind our heads. This came out
tightly coiled, but no bruise, you will prosper.
We were first gathered in the field. In the stomach,
clumps of grass (They brought us to the garden),
whole apple seeds with the poison still intact.
Faces touching the ground. This remains hidden.
I turned once to ask if there was an inspector.
A rich, liquid-like gold. A policeman replied,
“I am the inspector.” The smell inside the horse
is of a strong oil burning. One man shot us, but others
were around in the garden. Keep these ashes
fashioned to your skin, they can protect you.
I survived because I remained totally dead.
The italicized portions of this section come from a Human Rights Watch interview with Musli Hoxhaj, the sole survivor of a massacre at Golubovac, Kosovo. Thirteen men were beaten, shot, and killed in the garden.
vi. The Election
- — November 3, 1998
Even here we have our skirmishes. We ask for
a politician who is not a politician, the ancient
myths of public Suffering and Humiliation:
the cross and the pillory. The forearm smash.
We ask for the river to carve out revitalization,
the spectacle of suffering, of methodically
establishing the conditions of suffering.
The public asks for an art to reflect the public,
not because it regrets the absence of real
suffering. (An arm lock, a twisted leg.)
We ask for the impeachment of indiscretion,
the pure gesture that separates Good from Evil.
Even here we get the results as they happen.
The spectator does not wish for actual suffering.
On November 3, 1998, the people of Minnesota elected former wrestling star Jesse “The
Body” Ventura as governor of the state. The italicized portions of this section come from
Roland Barthes’ “The World of Wrestling,” in his book Mythologies.
We wander out in circles-
thick swarm’d — imagining a room
rising out of this one, history’s
Muzak looped in the speakers,
riding the continuous fattening
of the bubble. We divine
our profits and collect now.
We throw out the net. Dredge
the wealth of distances. We cast
our vote of no confidence over
the vast regions of the provinces.
Demand the impeachment
of power as payment for our own.
We accumulate the ethereal hive.