Friday, October 28, 2016

Seth Abramson, Excerpts from Golden Age

The Shallow End, cover image by Glenn Brown  
for Golden Age (BlazeVOX, 2017), Seth Abramson  

Excerpts from Golden Age

Ten Ways to Be a Metamodern Man


A metamodern man is bold, charismatic, independent, audacious,
and genius. Capturing his audience with his charisma, incredible
intellect, mastery of manipulation, and boldness of action,
he is a show-stealer who demands your reverence at every turn.


When a man has been captured and incapacitated, what does he do?
Cooperate with his captor? Beg to be spared? Hell no—
he makes it abundantly clear that he has absolutely no respect for his
captor. He does this by laughing at or snarking the one who beat him,
even if he’s in no position to do so—for instance, in pain on the floor
or behind bars.


The averagely skilled friends of the highly skilled metamodern man
may sometimes survive their encounter with a villain
because the bad guy couldn’t be bothered to finish them off.
This never happens to a metamodern man: the metamodern man is,
out of respect, always finished off.


When a metamodern man is about to be devoured, he makes a comment
that amounts to demanding that his killers not enjoy their meal.


Before a metamodern man dies, he fires off a line essentially saying
“I’m going to die, but my fight goes on,” or otherwise demonstrating
a continued defiance toward and disdain for his killer(s).


Metamodern men have a terrible tendency to die dramatically,
but will not, under any circumstances, stay dead.

This tends to cheapen their dramatic deaths to the point of them
being little more than flesh wounds.


The metamodern man is alone—except, perhaps, for a villain.
No one whose opinion he cares about will ever need to know
what he does next, and he knows it. And there is a useful but corrupt act
that he could commit, reaping the benefit without anyone ever knowing.
If he does not do it, the consequences will be severe, even deadly.
If a villain is present, he is urging the metamodern man to do it,
which possibly involves cleaning up any possible witnesses. Very likely,
the metamodern man is now at his darkest hour.

The stock phrase villains use in these situations is usually something like,
“No one will ever know...”


Stock phrases are lines that get repeated often, but always carry
the same meaning each and every time they’re used.
In many cases, the metamodern man follows such phrases with,
“I’ve always wanted to say that...”


You are watching something unfold and it suddenly strikes you
that you have seen every single part of this somewhere else.
Every trope presents itself without irony or acknowledgment.
All of the situation is clipped out of another story and pasted in
as-is. You are in a “cliché storm.” Do not worry. The pain
will soon pass. A bug will soon scrag an inept lieutenant.
Security will soon come to the perimeter. The line will soon be
held. It will be over, and soon. Remember, this is not always
a bad thing: many a cliché storm is also a guilty pleasure—or even,
dare I say it, exactly what the audience wanted in the first place.


Some metamodern men develop reputations that just won’t go away.

Maybe they’re famous for being divas; maybe they’re famous
for only playing certain roles in society—or even worse,
only playing one role. Nobody will let them forget it. They can
struggle mightily to earn a new reputation as a decent person
who can play a variety of cultural roles,
or they can resign themselves to their fate and make a career
out of it. “Adam West-ing” is a form of self-parody in which
metamodern men either play themselves or a “Captain Ersatz”
version of themselves, or else a Captain Ersatz version
of their most famous role—and play it as a total jerkass, an idiot,
or both. More rarely,
a metamodern man will play his most notable role but in a manner
exactly opposite to the one he’s most famous for—yet still
as a jerkass and an idiot. While this can be an affectionate parody,
it can also be an effective way for the metamodern man
to vent his spleen against a role in society that has gotten old fast
or even ruined the metamodern man’s life or career,
until the self-parody amounts to a “Take that!” against himself.

A particularly bitter metamodern man will make his self-parody
a deconstruction of his old role,
explaining how it was a horrible role and nobody should emulate it.
Like all deconstruction, this can come full circle, with the actor
doing a sort of “reconstructive self-parody”: sure, the role was stupid,
but I enjoyed it.

Drive-Thru Window Conversation

“What is the furthest possible you could take the concept of irony?
I mean, it’s being pushed so far nowadays
that it comes back around to being varying degrees of sincerity.
Has the limit already been reached? I think we could probably
put in an infinite number of posts before post-irony. Post-irony
will be succeeded by post-post-irony, and so on and so on.
Can’t we just go back to enjoying things again without this veil
of ‘New Sincerity’ or whatever? Take a look at Pynchon’s novels
and it’s like, Jesus, give it a rest and say something meaningful!”

“Sheeple! Fuck off with your shit. Irony can exist, but it has to
with sincerity to still be authentic. Catch-22 is a good example
of proto-post-post-modernism—a healthy mix of the two—
in which irony juxtaposes with the terror of the end of the book
to create something not entirely ironic, yet not entirely sincere.
Think of Milo bombing his own base. McWatt killing Kid Sampson.”

“That isn’t post-irony—stop listening to vaporwave. You’re an idiot.
Literature could be happening, and you prefer discussing genres!
Learn how to read; Pynchon’s works border on dad-tier sentiment
half the time. Name me one problem in America that isn’t caused
by inauthenticity.”

“The authentically trivial pursuit of authenticity. Socrates
already took irony as far as it could go: ‘sail on a ship /
passengers pay sailor / ask paying passengers why they are
paying / because they do not know yet if their trip was for
good or ill’—now keep up this level of ironic awareness
every hour of your life and you will have reached Socrates.”

“Post-irony, New Sincerity, and even ‘meta-modernism’
have literally nothing to do with irony—it’s the complete opposite,
i.e. cowards running in fear but pretending they’ve transcended it
to appear highbrow. I watched an interview
with one of the degenerates Shia LaBeouf spends his time with
these days, and it caused literal pain in my soul. In response
to your question, though, the limit will be reached when there is
nothing to be ironic about anymore. Irony needs sincerity to exist
but also, when successful, it defeats sincerity. If irony wins the war—
which, sadly, it looks as if it won’t—then it will have destroyed
every opportunity it has to exist. Then we’ll see what’s next.”

“So what’s next?”



“Diet Coke, large fries?”


“I was being ironic when I said that. Vaporwave is for pseudo-plebs—
‘future-funk’ is the way of the future.”

Four Exes


Tennessee is humid. Two ladies are doing awesome
things. (“I want to make you happy.”)

Looking out the window, thinking of ways to be
you hold up tequila, the BBC radio drama Neverwhere,
and a super-awesome-fun movie
with weary competence. I write a self-help book
to illustrate how to eat cookies. And my feelings.

I did do things other than real, terrible love
and sweet delight. (Spoilers—excellent!) What goes
in the bowl? Milk. Mind. 

Blown hairs look reasonable, which is strange. 

Still pretending upset? You must suffer every day!

Water off, human.

When I leaned on style, uninspired,
there was too much after a while. Texts: What friends!
(Gah! False teeth give you a crowded smile.)

Like a child’s newsflash, the swords are all for her.

I can firefly back and forth, salt the earth,
mark a great man lightly. (“Guess I’m just a good man
again. Nothing to do but complain about it...”)

True, it’s great the second time as well. 

The funny thing is, I’ve never thought of myself as bad.
I didn’t know. 

What’s bad about form? I’m free from...what?


Low wage protests. Walmart sales. Day protesters. Rally
at Secaucus. Better pay. Work conditions.

Demonstrate, bitter workers!

Freedom and other corporations politically motivate
television, Obama, SEIU,
anarchists, capitalism. LOL—we should be so lucky!

Showing up—better than voting.

At the same time, my most important work I don’t want
mistaken for consent. Apathy, I’ve decided: I’m voting
for New Jersey to teach “home defense.” (Can’t wait!)

Must read: Wanting Probably Has to Be Balanced With Ability.
Identify Good Ideas and Be Effective. Attract Authenticity.
Remove Restraints of Power. Labor! Don’t Let Fraud
Spread the Word for the American Dream. Stop Attacking
the Middle. Support ‘We Won't Pay Until You Do’. Stage Protests
Over Rising Costs.

Anthem, people!

Change, organize, declare, plan, wait, fight, rally, rally, see!


Start to thwart Will!


Last summer, I ran in Sheffield. It was a great few weeks.
I covered a lot of very useful ground. In fact, it went so well
that this year in Manchester, over five Thursday evenings,
starting on 5th September, ending on 3rd October,
at the lovely Northern Quarter,
places are available for the details. And how! (What is form?
How do we mean? Do poems acknowledge their influences?)

This focus on “forms”—it established organic forms
within the idea of “you”
to deepen your form, vocabularies, poems, confidence.

(Understanding your work is a challenge.)

Two weekly canonical ideas: awareness and critique.
Respect and engagement. Form and personal density.
Cadence and variation. An argument echoes
a total experience, and momentum also works to raise
the full cost of contact.

A brief explanation of your interest: a revelatory focus
on my weak discussion, mediated through breath
and knowledge. Brilliant, inspiring, heavy-hearted.

I hadn’t expected learning about form to open up
a new feeling. (It was the bottom for me—the whole time.)
But I opened it, and I loved the look of it: “Ah-ha!”


(No trace.)

Epithalamic Sonnet

Whenever you need me, you just have to say:
“Let’s strike a little deal.”

This is the thing: I’m losing me. (Boy, there’s
nothing to schedule, no more to sort!)

In my future, I see you and me: we are whole,
but not exclusive. I’m flexible
and you’re tough
and cannot see either doubt or shadow.

I hope this isn’t a bad omen.

(I don’t recall anyone objecting on that bright
September day!)

“Climb out of bed, my darling,
and begin to dress!”

A door she had yet to walk through.

Statements of Concept

“Ten Ways to Be a Metamodern Man” is an appropriation and reframing of several entries from, including the entries “Adam Westing,” “Cliché Storm,” “Defiant to the End,” “Magnificent Bastard,” “Not Worth Killing,” “Death Is Cheap,” “Stock Phrases,” “What You Are in the Dark,” and “Regret Eating Me.”

“Drive-Thru Window Conversation” is the lightly edited and augmented text of an actual Reddit conversation about metamodernism.

“Four Exes” is a phrasal remix born from a one-time and exceedingly basic Google attempt to locate online texts written by ex-girlfriends. Each section attempts to use the discovered texts to capture one aspect of a past relationship; no text appears in the fourth section of the poem because no information on the person in question could be found. Based in a curiosity about—but not any bitterness toward—the past, this poem was written with great respect and admiration for the four individuals whose social-media or author-website texts were deconstructed (beyond recognition, and intentionally so). All four of these individuals are extraordinary people, and three of them also happen to be talented poets who themselves have written poems about the author of this book. Still, their names do not appear in this book out of an earnest respect for their privacy.

“Epithalamic Sonnet” was composed by taking one line from each of 14 poems appearing on Australian site, which aggregates epithalamions en masse by permitting unedited, uncensored submissions from the public—indeed, almost exclusively non-poets. Individuals contributing a line to this sonnet include Diana Barsham, Craig Astley, Martin Richmond, James A. Coghlan, Andrea Porter, Pauline Halliwell, C.J. Munn, Helen Marsh, Catherine Smith, Emma Salmon, Mick Jennings, Hayley Gait-Golding, Vivian Hampshire, and Jane Graham

—Seth Abramson

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fusiform Gyrus, The Janitor God

Installation of the Janitor God,
image by Daniel Y. Harris  

The Janitor God

Cathach-Brenin janitor god lark of asuncion cathartic belch overseer of dengue rat town cobbled face more scar than pore oily black scorpion tongue cloudy eyes surveying blindly grey plastic mould and maquette construction every detail of a city awash with sublime green place keepers holograms all the homeless stares all the mothers feeding all the dogs pissing all the hooded gangs idling bleating all the parkour kids stuck in mid crook all the bridge jumpers all the sharp shapes cutting through excrement on walls in alleyways holograms mid-mugging mid-skulking mid-overdosing the reality uncanny all the decay all the dirt stuck.

—Fusiform Gyrus

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Busy Evening, image by AC Evans 


Uh-huh, it’s been a busy evening – Dashiell Hammett

Yeah, I was just really emotional, she said.
It was a moment of celebration but, huh, it didn’t last
It was like a scene from that classic movie The Strange World of Citizen X.
Live one-to-one, dodgy cigs and porn mags, you know the sort of thing.
Paragon Gates, special agent, squinted through narrowed eyes at the girl.
She said: I wanna Pina Colada, and I wanna chill out on the coast.
He said: Dream on darlin’ get across to Bubble Motors In-store Muscle Relief
Bespoke aqua residents, Maraschino cherries, visions of tradition
Fuzzy hair, high profile gobstoppers; bring it on, and… Zippo!
She had smoky eyes and very,very dark, red lips.
Zone ends, no disc, goodbye.

It’s been a busy evening that’s for sure, and it’s not over yet:
Grown-up glamour, strong finish, pencil sharp lines, one small step.
This was a tricky case.
Highs and lows, one risk too many, narrow lanes, pretty girls,
A new day, a new frolic anything could happen, one-eyed gangsters et cetera,
Someone put drugs in my beer shouting instruction through a megaphone
He explained to his pouting pet lamb.
Visions of displaced hillsides and activists being chased by police.
It’s sooo worth it, she whispered, let’s go.

He didn’t like the idea; he had a flame-grilled toxic hangover
But if I play my cards right (he thought)
I could get a free fitting in a grey area.
Ever thought of growing up and going solo? He asked with a cheeky grin.
You bastard! She almost screamed by invitation.
Stay tuned for bigger and better things to come, thought Our Special Agent.
Riotous mannerisms really turned him on. Her arse beautiful was a showstopper.
Perhaps he could find the energy.
She tottered around afflicted by uncontrollable tics, manic laughs, and
Outrageously sordid, taboo-busting nymphomaniac fantasies.
Despite the frantic Tyrolean yodelling, he took off her oversized coat,
Admired her brocade, velvet, metallic snake skirt.

There was a sparkly white spot on the ceiling – spells trouble.
New trends with varnish and hidden microphones.
This could be a mind-altering experience.
Yeah, busy evening.

—AC Evans

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Norman Fischer, excerpts from On a Train at Night

Ho|ma|ge to the Infernal City, image by Daniel Y. Harris 

excerpts from On a Train at Night

How nothing in particular sways in the wind when tendrils whip
In each which way
As if inclement weather daunts them serially to a halting stalling just as the beam
Of my wanting more blunts me along on its blathering furor —
         Gotta swim against the grain in this creepy world
I cradle in my weary arms
With its lush water
Distracting meals
And bracing sorrows of the day
Herewith a grasping for syllables or any air at all which would be most terrible
According to the connections she made because she could -- she did -- minus the emoticons --
And wind again destructive --
Manzanita puffs fold alongside hills
Downtown residue of foamseeking -- shared the almond shape of long carrots in mud--
Placed side by side in virtue of materiality making meaning in their musical placement calming the scene
for the moment


Household word
Catching a mouse from under the credenza she wanders desert shores following clouds of debris
Further on into crouched disturbances — these dates not on any calendar — time blown as leaves                      at season's end
At the time of a single death
She follows light
She follows water
She follows wind
She follows earth
Marked by solemn words sung like cymbals— the poet refuses to name — refuses to sing hero              battles — paints blood on walls instead — which passes for advance in tattered times —
Herewith a housefly rubs its ears against the panes — nothing to write about
Really nothing 
To speak of
Details swallowed in world


Hole in  original world — disturbed — stutters — flashing in and out of being —
Smoke wafts up from fires below
Wordstones hurled from cliffs above
Split into pieces
Earth teeters
Bulked clouds with fuzzy fingers
Shooting out
Gray smudges of arrested rain

Sky spread jagged and wide
Like puzzle pieces on a table
Something about to occur in strain for its arousal
This never-occurring anything
Hollow potential
Halt between in and out up and down forward and back dark and light arousal and defeat
Music — categories shattered --


It wants plethoras of peace and silence
Sometimes to learn so as to forget  —

Nearly dimmer then later stupor sets in
Whenever I strike this sonorous bell

That lingers and is limber touching the runners as they course by
Carrying the bulges

Too hot for their frequencies
But you can’t not wonder for you need the food

How they make their rounds on their lilting perfect numbers
Is abstract on their hearths

That cannot concur in their cash only reconcile their books and plunder
Call out on high for help


In these eyes words spill over
Before thought there’s water
Unstable surging that eats at the edges
Quiet out beyond the breakers
In the definite crescent and in the craters
A casting up of weight in the swell
So that looking into them there is no contact
Outside the sheer warmth that this is there
Present in a larger vicinity

The collision is immanent
A force pressing down unannounced
Of memory back to a beginning before remembering
Which is carried along with effortless floating
That your hand touches
Brushing only the sounds of words like tinkling glass on beaches
No escape


In the haze
Before a yellow moon
Hung over tapestried water
Talking and tapped
By muttering birds
That engender small details
Of earthly life rhyming above me
The mind’s broken beauty mends
All that deigns to wonder or sing
The table the cup the spoon so generous
The book the bell the sandal the screen
Overflowing eyes their struggle to see
The sorrow of annunciation


I wandered in and was immediately given a name and a score
Now -- how to distance myself from the crowd--
Was it diet or hygiene? Wardrobe coiffure interior design?
That night I slipped away to watch baseball under the stars
The ball the cloud the arching glove
Or was that scars and love, abrasive unfolding of time against my skin
Without thinking propelled by the unseen adhesion
A penchant for improvement or perfection
The image of an alternative world -- imagination's horrid ideal --
Proved to be already exposed and over-determined
I had to learn a new language just to recover my socks
Which I left outdoors on the balcony railing of the last hotel
In the final city of the farewell tour

Many times I have wondered what was really in that trunk I’d kept ready all those years
Plundered mementoes I planned to take back with me on my eventual return
When the past as I had imagined it would finally be available in reds and blues
The mauve poems I purchasing in the middle of this dream of my flamboyant farewell tour
That occurred as I woke in another less rudimentary world
And the words will make it believable and true in their military arrangements
Stitched together with dental floss because that was all we had
Without any idea of who or why or where we really were
Or any actual idea at all


I don’t know nor can see
Buttered up and offended
Disappointments marry me to my decreases
Setbacks set me scurrying
When against my whacky eye is bent
Any tattered stickum screed
Disastrously attacked and attached to me by murky bended invisible threads
Seen through


In the pleading
Another voice speaks your obscure name
That floats on the swimming sea bobbing like cork or corpse

They yell or call their fever
They raise their arms pure sapphire 
In sky with its endless terraces
Or clouds as pieced together witnesses
Of your tingling nerve endings that paint them
Recreating suns inside your brain

Charisma is chemistry
Being whitehot for the world to pull its handle
And whole cities spring up plazas boulevards statues fountains
Beetle people scatter
Because a person can’t be flesh
A terror freezes fluid bone solid
And a curtain falls before the eyes
Shoots out rays of red dejection until little lights flicker on 
One by one along the delirious roadways
And an insulated wind blows through the pocked canyons
Mowing him back down under the mock everyday sky
Until it’s time to say their names  -- Count and recombine their letters --


Just that much urge toward filching — take what isn't yours as if it were  —
Take any sense that truth is spoken here — lethargical liturgical truth --
And the indignant ones mesmerized by shouting spill over freeways unfurl their banners
Down from overpasses
Being alive's an exaggeration, protest against contingency
An allergy or flea bite
Bacteria extol— DNA an arrangement of letters spiral death dance --
But a stone's set in its ways
You can't draw blood from it to test its mettle
Glowing in its aura — the moon I mean — above --
Shocked by its own light and shrouded in someone else's cloud


Juvenile bombast and highjinks
Stark summation beside hay ricks when she was young and sex was the primary metaphor for self --
-- Hold that thought --
Journeying forth into moist lattice network tugs at spires or spices languor called                                               Freedom determines political confusion
This false premise
Herein the splash that cleanses people once for all —
Sins wash out anyway in a redemptive present
In which past is contained
So forgiveness is impossible
And inevitable
Let it alone
Inasmuch as this proper language holds up in court
To drown out the other uproar
Of pictured world in crisis


Just lie down in a boat and sleep
It's artificial but in our language what isn't?
Peculiar magic of our idiom. Could be the first time that happened.
Any variety
Of the many varieties
Of endings
That produce beginnings
When after nothing something again appears
Curling shot and extruded desire amounting to no more than …..

Thinking through, repeating  — a new world to start with —
Down deep in cavern who could think her way into this newness
No way but going on being so long as there's voice to holler
Murmur I mean
Solitude necessary for any recognized unacknowledging shape — I slake my loneliness in it —
Which is never preservative.
                                                                        .P.   is   .J.
Or so they say at this late hour when we are about to anoint a new king
Same as the old one


Jeered and mooed and read the oracles
Fuzzy clouds over sea must mean something like tortoise shells entrails tea leaves
All pattern decodes significance which is —  what, after all  — anything?
The implications --
Preternatural twilight once we were happy — whose concept is that? Cows
            they say are happy so people can't be
Bees and beers and brisket — gristle — these lines indicate that—
How chew on words of the gone ones of course I do
Everything said in exactly these residue letters
Shells and seaweed jumbled by the shore
Invisible at night
Walking back and forth in this distracted manner — the melody sways back and forth —
Pock pock pock pock behind it


—Norman Fischer