from Dropout Poem

Camilo Roldan


You seem to have forgotten moments of pleasure.
Green, they were money. Red, they were losing yourself.
      You seem
to have forgotten lunch on the shore of a lake.
Green, it is nature. Red, it is a cherry.
      You seem
atomized, excited, radiant-energy-wave
green, a new labor, a red lunar eclipse, magic.
      You seem

lost at the bridge's rail looking into the Spree
remembering another bridge, bigger, your self
      numerous off-ramps
a highway silent contemplates aspirations
abandoned, hoping to find the love you sought,
      unable to
concede that you found a friend to dissuade you,
a hand on the shoulder guiding you to the door
      through which

ON LOVE.” In reading the dream you write it,
            but how should you read it?
      Not zugzwang,

not chess, worn-out modernist visual metaphor?
You should find a way to write it other than
      disaster, terminus
            for all Modern (read “Western”) Art.
Do not check to see where she has gone, but trust
      she follows
through the door— but you can't help it:
queen takes bookkeeper when one defines a
      set as

A GIVEN CONDITION,” the condition being
      repartee consciously
thrown silk ball until your hand stutters vagaries,
pissing yourself because you drank too much
      Pernod, unable
to remember how you came to justify this
perpetuum mobile, counting the bounces
      without sum;

the condition being the word itself: set,
            as when you set it all aside
      for someone,
set to take a trip; set onto which walks
            a persona, typeset and ready;
      Colombian emerald,
set in a Germanic necklace; set upon which
            the game plays out, sett of a
      tartan skirt;

the condition a painting that cannot exist
            as anything other than a
      visual experience,
a lengthy peroration intended
for nothing other than the sensation
      of time;
a ubiquitous condition only
pointed to by that occasional
      shape in

the blur, return of experience had,
like a thing unsaid rose beneath
      your skin,
a tumor out of subcutaneous fat
excreted into view, nodes of
      having had
amassed, the intimate things one knows
merely that: a collection of baubles
      that plague

you; your nightmare of passion spent
            and lost recurs often:
      Berlin U-Bahnhof
where one falls slowly down and like a turtle
flipped and spinning on its shell
      shouting Help,
I can't see! I'm lost! Where did you go?

when someone nearly stops to turn it
      aright, but

decides not to because— fuck that,
I have to get to work
. On the U-bahn,
      you played
at being small, reminding her of the sorrows
tall women suffer. Now, you do not wish to say
      she's tall
because it would seem to reinforce her self-image
(do not wish she were not), but to deny her body would be
      to deny

her frustrations with hollywood, advertisement's targeted
            oppression. Now it is a chess board,
      a dialogue,
so you must respond (zugzwang!), yet
your complicity as the target and not
      the subject
            nullifies dismissal of the image:
you would claim to desire differently as
      a solution

but it is about her body, not about your
desires, how they guide the desperate search to
      articulate responses
that provide more than mere affirmation, support
and comfort for a person subjected daily
      to violence:
you know resistance and revolt take many forms,
but there is only one woman sitting before you.
      Trapped within

            the implicit objectification of all
desire, trapped by your saccharine fantasies,
      ignorant of
her praxis, but expected to respond (zugzwang!),
you have nothing worthwhile to say, and lose
      your queen.
Or maybe shutting up isn't as hard as you wish that it were.
            Maybe listening is a thing
      that matters,

silence is a form of action, not a loss.
You pendulate between the short lyric as
      insistent compression,
long poem as extreme of rambling insistence.
Do you tergiversate in mere aversion
      to feeling?
When Lozano cast off the art object,
she cast herself aside too, denied herself
      access, silence

deliberately increased into swell of
linebreak, became a poem whose eventual
      return wrote
      MY ART.”
How would you make that gesture? Who are your readers?
            How invested have they become?
      Poets, academics,
            some artists, art historians, critics
(Sarah, Laura, Cheryl, Helen or Lucy?),
      the woman
you claim to love? Lozano's ghost, mortified?
Men? An endless list of powerful men? Are they
      rich? Comfortable?
Do they have real jobs? Salaries? Do they speak
            a second language? French, German
      or Spanish?

Finally put out that book, will someone teach it?
Did they read it online, or in a lit. journal
      published somewhere
            west of New York and east of LA?
Will someone review it? Will they talk about
      terrible things
you've written           over a glass or two of Pernod,
or will they talk about the terrible things
      you've done?

            Pushed to the very misanthropic,
like Tom Otterness shooting a pound dog
      “for art,”
            like Lt. Thomas Glahn who executed
his hunting dog, Aesop, as a parting gift because
      Woman A
would not love him   and Woman B died
(what was the moral?),     does extreme
      egg extreme?

Be water, move in ever replenishing doubt.
When Lozano cast herself aside, she cast off
      the market,
gave up shows, changed her name —dropped
Lozano (née Lenore Knaster)— to become
      singular E.
E left for Dallas. E stopped making art. E
committed a form of conceptual suicide, became
      pure energy

            seeping from a vent below a chasm
in her own sanctuary, inhaled deeply and spoke
      for herself,
            perhaps realized from moment
to moment         she was able to be a numinous
      “Know Thyself,”
inscribed herself (E) into the lintels above, inscribed
the stone in her life, liberated in a single notebook page:

and was never heard from again, or so says
      her Vida,
though she may have teetered on the outskirts
            for a lid, smoked the best of her self,
      meandered, dallied
            with the decent men she knew,
chalked up by her enemies under the coinage
      “acid casualty,”

a grid of blotter paper with UFOs or Mickey Mice
like a psychedelic chessboard that asks you to
      turn on
            the cinematic experience of perpetually
proceeding, not located in any one place,
      tune in
            to her piece, the music
of a letter E   squirting through the cosmos,
      drop out

of writing poems, reenact the nature of the original piece
            and make art your life
      on stage
with the band, even without a wifi signal,
as a letter to an old friend living in a distant land,
      in transit,
two separate actions, two people are fragments
            and the only record of the gesture
      the memory.

Somewhere at the other end of all this
she sits at a desk with a headset listening
      to men
proclaim their love in the form of a customer
complaint, obligated to help them resolve
      the issue,
restart their modems, empty their browser
            caches; listens and listens to men
      recount dreams

of her, anxious to hear her proclamations,
unwilling to mute their personal problems
      long enough;
waits for the delay caused by the satellite
connection between bumblefuck Texas
      and Germany;
listens briefly to you, and then, moving on
with her life, gently whispers her advice:
      drop out.

            As a parting gift —you
imagine all parting gifts will be held
      by recipients
forever singing your tribute, your absence—
you bought her a cactus, said to it, thou too art,
      oh cactus!,
            on this foreign soil,

rooted in a sandcastle, shape of a woman,
      shifting dune

punctuated by alluring grasses, and you,
      imaginary man,
sit on her alone, the monocular beast
            who blows his reeds, pining for
      an ocean
that will never congeal into the desired nymph,
            her red breasts colored by the
      setting sun

gone in a green ray. Te hiciste el oso,
            made a fool of yourself,
      circus bear
            dancing like someone shamelessly drunk,
you were drunk with wrongheaded love,
      the immense,
luminous eye (ojo) of a supposéd universality
hovering on the horizon,         a hot air balloon,
      leisure (ocio)

            of the landscape's gradual transformation
between so many once opposed forms of night and day,
      never landing,
but always watching, wistful. On your flight back
you find a book on Lee Lozano stuffed into the
      seat pocket
            along with a copy of Skymall and
            a pamphlet illustrating emergency
      escape procedures.

            Through the oval window
you watch the sunset and know it was
      the quattrocento
and the troubadours of Provence
had long been dead, never to sing again.
      No more
golden vers, sirventes and amour courtois.
Guillem IX, a sleeping cat; Arnaut Daniel, an ox unyoked.
      Jaufré Rudel

who fell in love with a countess from rumors
            of her beauty, he left on a ship
      for Tripoli
to meet her. He became ill having nearly reached
the city. It was clear he would die, so
      his men
thought it best to grant him a vision
of what he sought. To his room
      the barmaid

            they brought, bedecked in craftily
improvised adornments, said she was the countess come
      to see
him, whereupon he sighed and claimed it was all
as he imagined, then breathed his last in
      her arms.
This barmaid, terrified conscript in this
pathetic deception, after a moment of silence,
      she swore

and cursed them all. When finally free
            from this madman's delusion, from
      the room's
miasma of decadent Romance, death,
            she left the inn and became
      a nun,
averse to all men, ensconced in a convent
            like a lightbulb beneath a cone
      of lampshade:

“Yo deseo estar solo. Non curo de compaña.
[…] Quiero catar silencio, mi sóla golosina.
      […] dejádme solo.”

It was the end of the quattrocento and all that
was left of the troubadours and their influence
      in Spain
were the Cancioneros— they did not believe
in St. Francis (“God's troubadour”), no
      divine gifts,

aspired to be understood, their only capacity
for understanding held the court— the forms,
      the gestures
of a foreign love, old allusions and metaphors
formulaic as the punchline of a déclassé joke,
      cheap target
in a dim bar after a day of work, you
asked about his day who says, Oh, you know,