“2019.03” by Bradley J. Fest

[redacted][redacted][redacted]     Such irony RE: years,   suppose I put
2009.   There.   And now so what?
Remaining true        for now. The date
creeps backward      administering odd frissons      inside the
inevitable            forward       dock.

—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Draft 99: Intransitive”

There aren’t enough poems about poems[1] about years
and the decisions within them[2] that become poems[3]
while the dead stay fixed in their poetry and the living
endure 2019’s extirpating slouch toward 2020, which

is not poetry, certainly, nor only the programmers’
realized dream[4] for optimized qubit paths.[5] Or there
probably are. The new poems are advertisements
you initially mistake for poems and then, glancing

again, remark appreciatively how richly manipulative
the new United States poetry is. The speaker of
this poem is not subversifying anything particular
or general.[6] The speaker of this poem only knows

about the accumulated irony of dates, formal silliness,
dreaded ongoingness,[7] and just constant disappointment.

Epigraph drawn from Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Draft 99: Intransitive,” in Surge: Drafts 96–114 (Norfolk, UK: 2013), 40.

[1] Said no one unaware of the publication history of imaginary frogs (fewer each day . . .).

[2] See Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas, “Instant Crush,” Random Access Memories (New York: Columbia Records, 2013), LP, and “Around the World,” Homework (Los Angeles: Virgin Records, 1997), LP.

[3] Or, that poets reproduce in poems that become poems.

[4] Hopefully; or, see Empire of the Sun, “Walking on a Dream,” Walking on a Dream (New York: Columbia Records, 2008), CD.

[5] Quantum poems!

[6] Nor are they some other poem’s speaker.

[7] An allergy to metahistamine, to metachronology . . . to metawhatever that manifest more poems about poems about years.

Bradley J. Fest is 2019–20 Winifred D. Wandersee Scholar in Residence and assistant professor of English at Hartwick College. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò 2017), and recent poems have appeared in Masque & Spectacle, PLINTH, Sugar House Review, Verse, and elsewhere. He has also written a number of essays on contemporary literature and culture, which have been published in boundary 2, CounterText, Critique, Scale in Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), The Silence of Fallout (Cambridge Scholars 2013), and elsewhere. More information is available at bradleyjfest.com.

Image: “Untitled” by Courtney Bernardo

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