The Knife

Ansley Clark

In manufacturing capitalism    what they called the perfect system    
they created a problem    the problem

was infinite desire
a pendant around each throat      or a machine’s

toothed belt      which prevents stillness and manifests
as the feeling of mesh and emptiness

to have a life these days is to walk around with  
one’s rage coagulating    around a deep wound   
to exist inside an increasingly attenuated public self
how to locate it?    

at dusk in the castle’s shadow 
workers transfigure into shoppers    

as something feudal hovers    
wraithlike   unhappy    alive
in the square where the profits of our loyalty alchemize    
into empire    and we receive a little 

of the leftovers to spend   
or on the highways where I spend 

my body to the dregs but still    
my body fails to comply 

this lightning in my wrists      where damaged nerves crackle
if I spread myself very thin the guilt

biological and fragrant as over-steeped chamomile
might wane      I would like

to feel at home in the world
though I cannot

once I worked so much my lungs grew inflamed
and I nearly succeeded in disappearing

this was when I knew it was near
like the realm’s coins buried in a drawer

this knife of a translation
the animal flailing/failing      inside of me      a problem