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December 7, 2018 Poetry

Two Poems

Chris Campanioni

Two Poems photo

give us the runway & we will
lift the world

you will have many agreeable surprises
they said, the moment I placed
my name where their fingers had
been, or right after
instructing me to take off
my shirt & pants & put on
a pair of briefs that weren’t
mine    I didn’t know who
these belonged to, or who
had worn them before I put
my legs between each opening
they advised me to stay

out of the sun
you’ll get too brown, you’ll look too
what’s the word    brown I bit
my lip    he shook his gut &
removed a camera from a kind
of holster & laughed    I wondered
what my first surprise would be or if I’d be
dead before the first shot, the way
I’d always imagine myself later
clenching on command, arrested in the act
of motion, or mimicking
an emotion I didn’t know
a thing about (they gave directions)

arranged for the camera only to be
disassembled after the photographs
were taken, my temporary gaze
produced photographs that are
copies without originals

hearing our first words as though they were
whispered in my ear
I stayed out of the sun all summer
thinking about my next surprise
& when it’d come    I came up
fast, they said I was some sort
of natural, at least when I was being
recorded   I worked the day & the night
worked me through & through
three deadlines, half a dozen proofs, staring
again, dead-eyed with the news
room of others merging
into a screen we’d been
assigned upon employment    place
an article here, remove an unnecessary
interjection there, pretend to have
pleasure in the manipulation
of image & text, set to
scale & strict measurement   (the difference
between reading & seeing
is not always evident) & so was I
sometimes forgetting
where I was or what time
of day, whether to be
an object or its author
what more to make
of the experience, words
& skin & sensation
in every touch & breath & scent like
God & the toothbrush

good teeth are the making of the stomach
& beautiful teeth are the making of a
charming smile

what my agent would often
write to me, before he signed
his emails before
we had access to each other’s
migrant exchanges
all summer long as I stayed
out of the sun    tried my best
to look like anyone
else but a halfie, child
of two immigrants, son
& the holy spirit beside me
always when I prayed in bed
face-down & bent shut
my eyes & turned
the light switch off
to stay still, feeling
my heartbeat like repeating
dashes of a morse code
I myself could not explain

he may or may not
wear socks, he has always been known
as a daring dresser
they were fond of
saying, as I would walk
in late from a fitting, the request
to take polaroids for a go-
see later that afternoon    everywhere
telephones rang & everyone
seemed to speak at the same time
as though they were the chorus
in rehearsal I would try to
write down spare details, moments that I could
fashion into something else
when I had the time, or when the time
was right, when I was older, when I could
understand what it was I was doing or what it was
that was being done
to me    not much to it
-erations, the way a frame
can crack just by putting
weight on one foot, pressing
hard & raising one’s leg

these liberties will be looked upon no longer
as crimes, but as itches

& another memo when I think
to refresh my display

would you please also send a clear photo of your head
which you can alter freely, at will or willingly
disposed to give up your rights to like
-ness? instead of representing my likeness, I
took steps toward excising my face
from the portrait, replacing it with

        please note, visitors
        may enter & leave
        the theater at any time

(it revealed the desire to renounce
individual authority in his work
undermining the sanctity
of authorship)

to be looked at from
the other side of the screen
with one thumb close to
almost an hour

touched by the hand
of God, new order
blaring in the back
of the bar   I paid
attention, took my own
hand out from my jeans
pocket, put my thumb
around it, felt how it felt to
feel it almost as if
I were inside it & on
the outside

against such official efforts to fix
identity, he insisted on the right
to construct, subvert, or other
-wise destabilize it, already
experimenting with what it meant
to flatten dimensions, a response
to the flattening of transport
in a culture constantly dis
   some people

take photos of artwork I make
artwork meant for photography
something that can be rendered or
repeated differently during each
take    see also: a zoomed-in
screenshot to further fragment the whole &
highlight another assemblage
what can & cannot
be consumed through touch is only
a question I find useful today & yesterday

as audiences were awed by the new
technology of film, the location of real
shifted from the magician’s stage
to the frame of the camera

after the Internet’s insistence
to be everywhere & all at once came
our sincere desire
to disappear


Instructions in the event of an emergency

At the sex party in the Hamptons
No one is having sex

Stranger things have happened
Than a Winona Ryder comeback

People often ask
Why I write so often

About the ephemeral
& I ask what else

Really is there?  Time
It takes to burn

A body & blow
It up   The rituals

Of show & tell
People still talk

About emails, the same
Story repeats a week

Later & the public
Thinks it’s news

I know that life is
Short & art is long

I know I’ll never live to see it
Makes me grow impatient

I sometimes say
I will never show this side

To anyone    & then I take
Myself apart

Living off of
Photographs    So desperate to

Become it    Pulled back
As though out

Side the set
This fire beating

On my back
This lack of rainwater

This hunger we
Call life

Somewhere a woman is eating the apples
Of Chernobyl

I’m 31 & still
I know nothing

About attraction
How people can come so close

To crying, the tear
In the fold of my jeans

All the books
I surround myself with

All the strangers
I wish I knew I wish knew

Me   Waiting for my ride
Can make me want

To write or like living
Just to write about it    I remember

A rooftop in Bushwick
Placing your head

On the head of my lap
I didn’t know what else

I would ever be but here
A person learning

About you & your
Body temperature in relative

Silence    The smell
Of fried garlic, onions, something floral

A white wine from a place
In France I can’t pronounce

I often want to watch everything
I’ve ever done as though it were

Filmed, & I’d see it
Differently each time

I sit to watch
Moments where

I’ve looked at my
Reflection & seen a GIF

Something half-frozen
Between the pose of permanence

& the shudder of being
Formed in flesh

I used to stutter as a child
The unbearable vastness

Of this city
Through train windows

Your face behind a door
I want to forget

Nothing not even
The absence of music

The way your eyes kept me
From moving

I want to live like this forever
I never could get it out 



image: courtesy of the poet