this is true
a man in an alley grabbed my arm
this is true
someone called me an left the phone dangling at the post office
this is true
a man stalked me

someone tells a story

someone tells a story to another person
another person says I don't believe this
someone tells the story again in an attempt to convince
someone tells

as disbelief is easy
belief is difficult, supported by constraint

but a woman knows a man stalked her
knows this is true

a woman knows her own address
her own body
her lost domain, her desires, her confusions

someone tells a story

there are things people can do to themselves
they are:
leave molotov cocktail on own yard
set fire to own house
leave a glass of urine on own porch
leave envelope of feces outside own door
send a butcher knife to self at work
send letter to health department that self is spreading VD
stab own back

someone tells this story
says this is true
self turns on self
the knife enters at a point that the self could not have reached
         but did
someone tells and then repeats and she stalks herself several
         times to convince
someone tries to enter into the information
to pass words back and forth that have meaning
fails, resorts to this is true

this is true
a woman calls her stalker The Poet

this is true
a woman describes a stalker in terms that describe herself

this is true
a woman stalked herself to kill herself

this is true
a woman is at times a man

when a fish is hooked
other fish don't see the hook

thrashing seems crazy

the hook could be the branding of a woman at a young age
         by a man
or an older male neighbor spending too much time with a
or the boring nature of life

in the story the hook is the artist's rendering of the stalker as
          described by the woman
it is the woman in a man's face

she does not know this man
thrashing seems crazy

later she realizes it is herself
her knife
her hook
her own face she was always drawing male

this is true
as thrashing is not crazy when one is on the hook

NOTES: This poem draws from an Oprah episode on the case of Ruth Finley, a woman who, because of "disassociative personality disorder," was stalked by a male persona of herself.
Juliana Spahr, "Thrashing Seems Crazy" from Response. Copyright © 1996 by Juliana Spahr.  Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

Source: Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996)

i find microscopic analogy in stagnant water (cybernetics poem after norbert wiener)

an almost buddhist
to the fact
and it is a fact
that sooner or later we shall die.
it is, in fact, wholly probable that the universe will die the heat death.
the world will find itself reduced
to a vast
and nothing new will ever happen.

nothing will be left
or what will be left –
a drab uniformity from which you can expect only minor and insignificant local fluctuations
– will not be worth your time
or mine

regardless, these last stages –
what we call the world's death
or the heat death
– can have no spectators.

our lives are insignificant fractions
of eternity
stages so small
they would be dwarfed by even the
smallest minor local fluctuation in the heat death

these pockets of
form the negative
of the mould

which is never insignificant

so rejoice while you can
if you can
i find comfort and microcosmic
analogy in stagnant water
and soggy
bits of old bread
which appear to me
very much like the end

I envy you the ordered flesh from which they unfold

"Gaudi began the park in 1900," Virek said "Paco wears the period costume. Come here, child. Show us your marvel." "Señor," Paco lisped, bowing, and stepped forward to exhibit the thing he held.
Marly stared. Box of plain wood, glass-fronted. Objects. "Cornell," she said, her tears forgotten. "Cornell?" She turned to Virek.
"Of course not. The object set into that length of bone is a Braun biomonitor. This is the work of a living artist."
"There are more? More boxes?"
"I have found seven. Over a period of three years. The 
Virek Collection, you see, is a sort of black hole. The unnatural density of my wealth drags irresistibly at the rarest works of the human spirit. An autonomous process, and one I ordinarily take little interest in."
But Marly was lost in the box, in its evocation of impossible distances, of loss and yearning. It was somber, gentle, and somehow childlike. It contained seven objects.
The slender fluted bone, surely formed for flight, surely from the wing of some large bird. Three archaic circuit boards, faced with mazes of gold A smooth white sphere of baked clay. An age-blackened fragment of lace. A finger-length segment of what she assumed was bone from a human wrist, grayish white, inset smoothly with the silicon shaft of a small instrument that must once have ridden flush with the surface of the skin but the thing's face was seared and blackened. 

The box was a universe, a poem, frozen on the boundaries of human experience.
"Gracias, Paco." Box and boy were gone.
She gaped.
"Ah. Forgive me, I have forgotten that these transitions are 
too abrupt for you. Now, however, we must discuss your assignment."
"Herr Virek," she said, "what is Paco?" 
"A subprogram."
"I see.''
"I have hired you to find the maker of the box."

Joseph Cornell, Boxesvarious dates.

She took a deep breath. "Herr Virek, what if I fail? How long do I have to locate this artist?"
"The rest of your life," he said.
Forgive me," she found herself saying, to her horror, "but I understood you to say that you live in a vat?" 

"Yes, Marly. And from that rather terminal perspective, I should advise you to strive to live hourly in your own flesh. Not in the past, if you understand me. I speak as one who can no longer tolerate that simple state, the cells of my body having opted for the quixotic pursuit of individual careers. I imagine that a more fortunate man, or a poorer one, would have been allowed to die at last, or be coded at the core of some bit of hardware. But I seem constrained, by a byzantine net of circumstance that requires, I understand, something like a tenth of my annual income. Making me, I suppose, the world's most expensive invalid. I was touched, Marly, at your affairs of the heart. I envy you the ordered flesh from which they unfold."

William Gibson, Count Zero, 1986

Paul Thek, from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1964-67

Paul Thek, from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1964-67