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from Fantasies in Permeable Structures


There’s a seditious joy in a thronging crowd.

So much that even when convened in crisis

a mildly subdued terror boiling just

beneath the surface, there races a surging power

felt anew. Almost remembered, this power to

create, in short, in spite of this destruction

a new normality. (Not malady) a breathing life

through city’s buildings on our terms terms

of life fashioned by us not imposed and by

so scant a percentage. Among the numbers

I walked. The streets open-veined and tossing

swelling information towards the seas

of Union Square, where every face was sweating

in the summer heat thrown out into a meeting

with our substance. We were the stuff

that animates every structure bearing down

its granite orders. This horror glimpsed, in eyes

then verged euphoric in a brass of song

All codified exchanges dropped away

hysterico-historical time new-measured by

this civic animality. The walls, though standing,

seemed a mere screen we overran, a screen

we’d seeped through meekly out of habit

now deposed. Great writhing arteries

tossed over rivers, our cost-bits flowing

neither singly nor in pairs but as one

variegated whole I am not a soloist

but hermaphradous a porous cell completely

uncontainable overflowing homes

Throngs in the property of blocks it

thinks—somewhat on its own—outside

its bursting parts—presage to (revolution)


Like receiving a photo of oneself with a rifle—

crosshairs drawn over the face. Like your

head’s a sack labeled with numbers. Like

a deck of playing cards, and you’re the two

or the three. Or maybe a neighbor.

Like a uniform you never take off is supposedly

‘yours.’ A blacked-out space, the same

length as your name, or YOUR NAME

on a purged intelligence file.

Like a medal of honor. Or choosing to jump

so as not to burn. Having the evidence

but losing the case like being a target or

‘not being the intended target.’ Lists

circulate, how many lists how many

neighbors. If you turn up dead, then we’ll

investigate. If the economy improves, then

you’ll be treated. If you work if

you save if you lose weight. If you learn

or you pray. If you spend if you practice.

If you drive march or publish. If you disagree

or agree. Operation Ivy Serpent—Plan

for Permanent Preeminence—Future

Imagery Architecture—Full Spectrum

Dominance. “The human being should

be the priority objective in a political war.

Once his (sic) mind has been reached

the political animal has been defeated

without receiving any bullets…”

A school. Or a trip to India. A film

or a fashionable magazine. A talk show

a web page a book. a song.

a poem.


Laura Elrick

Laura Elrick's book Fantasies in Permeable Structures is recently out from Factory School (2005) in Vol. 1 of the Heretical Texts series. She is also the author of sKincerity (Krupskaya, 2003) and is one of the featured writers on Women In the Avant Garde, an audio CD produced by Narrow House Recordings in 2004.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2004

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