New American Poets

New American Poets: Fred Moten

Rock the party, fuck the smackdown,

under Bill Brown's blue chicago there's
unrest in response to continued scolding.

thing object. matter ain't the same
as one another. things don't represent
they must be broke. they cannot pay attention
to objects like objects so they stay mad
all the goddamn time, broken glasses
everywhere. but I sound better since you
cut my throat. the checkerboard is also a
chess board. it's also a cutting board and a
sound board. it's also a winding sheet and a
sound booth.

now you're bored with all these healthy choices
and you don't want to sound as clean as this.
shit smoothed out on me by accident too.
how did I get here? I lost my ideological
mama and her things. her thing's in storage
in north las vegas but no matter, ain't no thing,

'cause when the morning breaks I'ma get my sound back
and all my native weather will be mine.

From Hughson's Tavern (Leon Works, 2008) with the permission of the author and Leon Works. All rights reserved.

I'm influenced by the great liars of the world and I love mispronunciation. Anyone who can't help but deviate can pretty much tell me anything. Childish forms of hesitancy help me get in the mood. Like when they know the answer before they ask for it and the anticipation makes them answer their own questions against their will and their resistance to themselves offers a little sound, a little buzz with a laugh on the end of it, for the celebration. Laura helps me get things going when I forget to get all this. She studies the secret life of plants and arranges harmony in the asylum. Bill teaches me how to breathe and what it means to really live somewhere. Between them and Ms. Bush's theory of flavor, the way she handled a certain tendency to squabble by aggravating it, I'm feeling the bottom for imaginary poems, studying the edge of sleepy demands and timing that unashamed gathering for screaming. Come to find out, in the moving school, that Maceo was inconsolable while they were just generally going for their thing; but getting caught up in the analytic pause of Cincinnati goes all the way back to Columbus Square, that thick, perfect soup one night and those little wind-up toys. Denby, Rev. Dunn and the D Street repetition, Val cutting up stories like Family Man, was where I started learning how to listen. Now I'm learning how to listen again. The Corbetts, the Bushes and the history of the welcome table brushed up against that whole relation between cuteness and terror that keeps coming up in the little animal songs that Pete Seeger recorded. Frog went a courtin and it ended up wrong, as dinner and the refusal of dinner that you have to slip away to laugh at and record, track laid over that fatigue drone when everything is everything, which I'd been praying for and running from. I'm touching your ear. Is it ok to touch your ear? I'm touching it. I'm climbing up you. I can't tell you how much I love that. I can't get over how I got over.

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