The Barons

By Joshua Corey

Poem

In the time of ever more rapid diffusion and dispersal of truly humanistic termini
The time of collective seizure of rapidly diminishing carbon cores
The time of the barons in their towers growing fatter unto death hooked up to
dizzying interconnected internet spirals of IVs sucking everybody’s placenta dry
Aka your milkshake aka my humps
In the time of dominoes laid from one end of the asylum to the other
The time of male whores who can’t catch a break
Time of the underground economies trading hot licks for rapid desertification
Time of distant thunder
Time of the perpetual el niño
Time of rain filling the abandoned moviehouse and everything picturesque and
prepared for the ancestors
Ancestor-life the only scale that matters now the scale of the illegible the illiterate the unread
Not just a hitler but many come-hitlers in the twilight bathrooms of the barons,
making their dicks look small
Being now of sound mind and sound body I, thirty-nine years of age brimming with half-spent undessicated nougat-rich mortality
Say unto thee children, Burn the motherfucker down

*

Now you’ve written something and given birth to a critique
First critique says it’s in your mind time and space
Second critique says you know very well what to do
Third critique says there’s no arguing the taste of this poem yet you’ll go on wanting to
Mid 5-am mid-future sleeping families strap on the masks
Air conditioners gust on outside dark houses disturbing the rats
Electromagnetic impulses making the circuit of the only world
I thought gnawing my own leg off would be one way out of the trap
Then I thought dying in the attempt would be another, truer way.

*

burn baby burn that’s the only spirit that matters
Literally burn the baby endless fields of fucked burning babies
The barons walk the line innocuous and off the rack
They’re with you tonight in this room they’re with you tonight in your televised bed
They’re with you tonight in Rockland they’re with you on your tax forms
Just because it’s freaking obvious doesn’t make it untrue
Why this is hell nor am I out of it—master the line of Mephistopheles

*

My mind won’t let me rest until I record here what I’ve seen
Four lines of fire razing the land at slightly different rates
Parallel lines with just enough space between to make a vista
There’s no point in making your planet a hell unless you’ll have a view
The first line is rapid and distills a smokeless flame visible from airplanes
Mapping the earth’s abstract grid a seamless seam running the cornfields
Second line moves more slowly and mostly invisibly wastes the sky
The third line makes lots of stops punctiliously burning each city from the outside in
From suburbs of immigrants and favelas like nooses tightening around the necks of people that look like me
That one sets fires at random it takes a long view to see the line
The fourth line is last and moves more slowly than the senses can detect yet rapidly
becoming irreversible
It’s this one that scares me motherfuckers it’s the hellhound on my trail
Close my eyes and I see it spiraling from the horizon flames a mile high crisping
everything
Rendering the ground a fertile-seeming black casting down towers and malls into architecture
Blown back by the slow-mo blast that is eating bit by bit my halo and wings
Eyes shielded from burning pitch and grit solely by remaining open
Backdrafted into a future built on the continuous present of ruination
YOUR NAME HERE thou shouldst be alive at this hour

*

Burn, baby, burn. Commas serve the deficit of reason.
I’m an attention-deficit hawk I say we have our eyes and lips sewn shut
I’m a suburban father with invisible tattoos on my body
Which small or midsize SUVs have a column-mounted shifter?
Be inspired. Great selection. Our instinct is to catch the baby.
Drop the old ones into their holes. This life is a Viking funeral.
Like speeches made by law into public address systems that render the words
unintelligible.
True of every platform. The railroad rides upon us.
The appearance of full-stops serves the appearance of rhetoric.
An argument in 1934. Young men are so young.
The appearance of caesuras serve the appearance of violent birth
Subdued to softer adverbs. Mechanically. Psychometrically.
Pastoral a function of our language. Groves are generative grammar.
The trees of truth cut down. “Tree in the ear,” Wunderbaum.
Inverted tree of an underwater oil surge.
Its roots come grasping for us.
And all tomorrows surfacing.

*

Let prose handle the inwardness that personal history sells
Let the poem spiral outward like the Kraken in secret thunderdome with Leviathan
Pulling the unread and unseen into mutual unequal struggle
Game of the corporate state hides the identity of the barons
Preaching to monster trucks to pine cones to stacks of burning children’s books
Listening respectfully to their own beards the powerful uneducated persons
The fire lines are racing which will be first to reach the goal
The end of every burning

*

“a man who wails is not a dancing bear”
And a dancing bear isn’t a bear and it isn’t dancing
It’s an it for our fascinated contemplation layers of years like Band-Aids
Now and of an age that surpasses ours in cruelty
Since cruelty requires attention that endangered natural resource
The bear in its Elizabethan ruff its fur and privates torn by pit bulls
Baited on its hind legs beats its chest with claws for the spectators
Who stand in a ring, backs turned
I like to go to the game and listen to it on the radio
I like to be larger than life and vanish on your retina screen

*

Seeing is material and being seen is spiritual
The more you walk the streets invisibly the closer you are to death
Rich reality of death foaming in bones and capillaries
Death shining at a millimeter’s distance from every moment of skin
I think I’ll buy a malted for the writers in Ghana these days
No one is deader than the reader more material sunk in aliveness
The barons are angels shining their bodies themselves are halos
Eyes uplifted to live feeds tracking the movements of material witnesses
Listening to “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” I am really just like him
If homicidal homosexual clown isn’t an orientation oh my god
I am not a baron maybe a little bit baronet
It’s my pleasure to serve the oligarchy by not mentioning it too often
Every time I click this link it’s like I’ve gone to church
The contents of their stomachs are mostly plastic
Decay generates the only heat that warms an angel’s bones

*

Let silence bring to presence. Silence. Silence.
There is still a little shade
Trees are noisy
Silence
Waiting to be killed
Bodies quantifiable
Whatever silence
Have it your way silence
I don’t care silence
Depart from this place
See what you have created

&

see the barons
the barons unmade

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JOSHUA COREY is the author of four books of poetry, the newest of which is The Barons (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014). His first novel, Beautiful Soul: An American Elegy was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press this past June. With G.C. Waldrep he co-edited The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta Press, 2012), an anthology of innovative nature poems. He lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife and daughter and is an associate professor of English at Lake Forest College where he also co-directs Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books.

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