135.1: Joshua Ware:: Vargtimme & Out of the Dimly Remembered Whole 135

We take ourselves too seriously. Or at least I do. I often wonder in my own work if there’s subject matter that I can't write about. I don’t mean this in the sense of some sort of fidelity to those things I hold sacred, secrets of self, my deepest and darkest: a current relationship, a dead brother, how many times I masturbate. In fact, ask those closest to me—they’ve all been sold out through my modes of confession. But rather, I wonder about writing the everyday—if there are things that just can’t make themselves into a poem because they are too non-poetic, whatever that may mean and however it may be defined. If I make an offhand reference to a Ween song, reddit, or how much a bag of Cheetos is, are these things too commonplace, subject matters that don’t lend themselves to our high art? Part of me still fantasizes that I’ll make it into a Norton centuries after my death. Do I really want the editors to extensively footnote Frosted Flakes? And I further ask myself, is there anything pretty about Frosted Flakes? The answer, Joshua Ware reminds me this week, is that of course there is.

I imagine his poems shaking me, telling me that the flakes littering my bed, the empty box on the desk and two more in the kitchen trashcan—these are beautiful. (There was a deal at the Rite-Aid, and here I will end: it’s best we not investigate my penchant for sugary cereals further.) Ware, like Frank O’Hara, takes the everyday and makes something beautiful of it. He introduces familiar internet memes like Sad Keanu and Rick Astley and then repurposes this cultural shorthand into the marvelous, into the wondrous, into something once again relevant and all together new. These poems, like a jacket I stare at every day in my closet and once again try on to see how keenly it fits, beg the question: Why don’t we wear these everyday things? The answer is simple—Ware already does. Nik De Dominic


In this hour there are birds. And there are more birds
I want to destroy each and every one of them
for we would both do well if we never again read
about birds during the twenty-first century
A route of wolves stalks your dreams
as you twitch and mumble in anti-psychotics
This is the hour of the wolf
and I could not be more pleased
to hear an ancient man moaning in existential pain
over his estranged life: a transient lover, a forgotten son
Two geriatric bodies stand before one another
their sagging flesh folds over on itself: lonely bells tolling
for a chaos that rings through empty landscapes
Landscapes know nothing
but the lessons we write into them
Who needs landscapes anyway
Now we have memes of kittens. And more kittens
Sad Keanu, corgis, rabbits, owls
and some pithy platitudes about the state of the world
I just want to be Rickrolled. And I am so very happy
that someone rolled the stone away
and Astley’s body was not in the tomb
Yes, Nick Cave is writing a song about the resurrection
at this very moment in a countryside studio
in southeastern England. Every night
I dream of electric sheep marching
in single file, synchronized to a sarabande
written by Bach for the cello and set against the backbeat
of an 808. Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Matsuoka
let me tip a forty for both of you. I do not understand
how neither one of you have cameoed
in a stylish hip-hop video with a ghetto booty
jiggling and all backed up in your overly expressive mugs
Nothing of us remains in these irregular forms
except the light or dark speech that emanates from branches
of nighttime trees. It is just the birds. The birds
out-of-date and recalcitrant, singing
a song digitized into the moment of our attention

Out of the Dimly Remembered Whole

fragments of a mustache spruce your upper lip
shirt unbuttoned mid-torso, suggesting amateur gay porn
or an all-day fuckfest at a seedy bathhouse in NYC
its lone entrance tucked back in an alleyway behind a green recycling dumpster
Most days no one cobbles together Wyatt and Surrey
to write contemporary poems; instead, we pick-and-choose from whatever
our search engines offer us. I want to redeem an obsolete style
in an effort to create a new history that begins and ends
with the memory of something that never existed
It’s what we’ll call an aesthetic of unwanted invention
where so much gorgeous raw material forgets
its intensity and so remains untouched until someone
years later and by chance encounter
employs it for a purpose to which it was never intended
thus heralding a fabricated recollection
of better days gone by. No matter how hard we try otherwise
we’ll tell our children stories
of how life was more difficult in the days of dial-up modems
getting bumped with every incoming call
each connection’s enervating scratch and squeak
and the interminable wait when downloading
a single three-minute song. We wait and wait and wait and wait
and, while waiting, cry for that which we left behind
until we cry simply for the sake of crying
and the comfort habitual behavior affords us
In all reality, nothing changes
as drastically as we would like to believe
On the horizon, a dense mist hangs above the churlish sea
an infinite occurrence spelling wonder every time
Small beads of condensation speckle the lens of my sunglasses
which themselves are unnecessary when overcast