Chris Campanioni

Chris Campanioni’s new book is Death of Art (C&R Press) he has worked as a journalist, model, and actor, and he teaches literature and creative writing at Baruch College and Pace University, and interdisciplinary studies at John Jay. His “Billboards” poem that responded to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded the 2013 Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He edits PANK and Tupelo Quarterly and lives in Brooklyn.

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Opening Shot

Having succumbed to the millennium what else is there to bow to? Down

the block the halal market next-door to where I am writing this is scrawled with

TERRORISTS & the storefront’s windows shattered. At least a dozen passersby

have walked past Smith & no one’s said a thing. Somewhere else required

reading describes millions of workers brought to plantations in the new world

as a way to introduce adolescents to the upsides of slavery. Somewhere

there’s another wall with our name on it. I’d like to keep all of this inside

of me a little longer. Début d’une lutte prolongée. & the news says today

is the third of 2016. & under the paving stones what? I am afraid what

we might uncover & I’ve never thought to say that before. The beach

that’s been polluted for profit or the one that served as a hotel resort killing

field in Tunisia? & the news says today is the third of 2016. After the millennium

came & made death a problem of the poor what is there to give birth to? People

have become a pile of data to themselves & one another. & still we accumulate

more images of our passage, desperate to hoard experience without

conceding there will always be a limited supply. The richest

twenty percent of the world controls seventy-five percent of the world’s

wealth. A person living in the city is photographed or videotaped

two dozen times a day. Should it trouble us that Amazon & Google

know more about us than our mothers & lovers? Should it trouble us

that we’ll pay to make it bigger? Better? More real? Should we be

troubled? The gowns are there to protect the chips & circuit boards

from harm by humans, not the other way around. The hypothesis for

every major corporation must go like this: Maybe a person can experience

real love without an actual person to feel love for. One in five have a cell

phone. One in five have clean drinking water. It won’t stop coming down

today. I’ve tried to wait it out & I’ll be waiting longer than I can afford. Keep

killing time? A waitress asks the woman across from me, who’s just asked to pay

her bill. The streets are trenches. An ocean runs through it. My inbox’s flooded

with spam, instructions demanding I make it rain on the dance floor below

the option to VIEW THIS LARGER? Sometimes I want to blow myself up

& I’ll start with my face. Make it monstrous or sever it completely. A student

says as a white man in this culture he feels invisible. After class I ask him to imagine

being anyone else.

 

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Send Help

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Listen if you have

No daughters give them

To your sons

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& then we were found wanting

& then we were wont to never be

Alone again These things happen

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Quicker than you might expect

Lesson: a thing dispensed

& forced in

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Fable: over night the pauper

Turned princess

Let me see

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Said Cinderella laughing

If it doesn’t fit

He saw that she

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Put it on with little effort

& it fastened like wax

I’d rather not fit to form

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A body that isn’t

Mine I hardly

Wear clothes

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For that reason

When we think of chairs we think

A comfortable place to sit in order

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To rest or efficiently complete

A task this however is a very

Modern idea that presumes

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Everyone has a seat

Here it comes

Our cool command

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Tell us something is happening

Or not To be

Waiting is forbidden

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& forgotten in the time

It takes to push your thumb

A fiction: he of memory

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& the life I left behind

Nothing gentle will remain

Repeated like a little

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Verse in choral class

Meant to teach the heart

Beating Send help if you haven’t

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Thought to let me know by now

Comfort is not the purpose

While muscular proportion is one idea

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Of physical perfection

Other models related to

Height, grace, & silhouette

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Have inspired artists on the street

Hot cross buns

One a penny two a penny

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The high heat days are gone

The long delay the bait the trick the unforgiving

Waiting a thing

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Of the past

Here we are in the palace

Here we are in the dark

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Silent desert

All held together

In a body

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With a voice

Lord

Here I am

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