Newspoem by William Gillespie

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Albatross: Newspoem May 2013

we don’t know how we don’t know you
demapped: ignorance is scribbled across an ancient terrain
by plutocrats rethinktanking ancient cartographies
a two hundred year civilization
rejects the sovereignty of a six thousand year one
remember when war meant a conflict
between our safety and a credible threat
from an advanced industrialized militarized country?
and the idea of war was to win them and end the threat of them? forever?
remind me our mission in afghanistan i forgot

i’m too distracted playing by the rules
monopoly on credit
owing more on my house than its value
student loans worth more than my degrees
owing creditors more than i can ever earn
a rising tide sinking all ships
my shameful life has rejected the american dream like a bad heart transplant
i have a bad heart and 18% APR, nothing can make sense
so go ahead, repeat the idiocy endlessly until it overwrites truth
prepare me for endless war
against persia, against the ocean, against our gulf and theirs,
against ice, against alaska, north korea? of course.
democracy not a commons but an asinine payground, a dogpark
serving the interests of invisible CEOs
know how to solve the real problem of terrorism?
bomb countries where there aren’t enough terrorists yet
our soldiers who will put your lies on the line
we made the airplane, the light bulb, the car, the nuclear bomb, the drone:
of course we can make enemies
ice the geostrategic cake—the deliciousness of righteousness

first they brought back 1991, now 1979
1979 changes everything
Reagan arming Iran, Iraq, Central American torturers, Afghan rebels
disco bad haircuts Dahmer glasses red white blue crepe paper in the bicycle wheels
Jimmy Carter wore blue jeans and yellow boots to Three Mile Island
Truman Capote wore the same outfit to Studio 54
the color cables unfurled and were plugged into every home
the brainbomb fuse lit and on these strings we became entertainment marionettes
unable to finish a book or side two of Marquee Moon
North Korea? sure, bring back 1950 too. 1929? check.
but bring back the ocean, spring, gentle summer rains?

the concentration electronics splinter
phones smarter than us getting richer than us with more future than us
fight through this cobwebby fog of internet psychosis.
attention’s gratification, every day put a new ad for yourself up in lights
if the only way to think, to know, to connect
is to cut myself off, terminate the information, delete accounts
turn off the 95% of the phone that isn’t really a phone
ride out excruciating contractions for about forty weeks
the hallucinations, cravings, nausea, and voices that say you are no longer human
missed memes, amputated avatars, cadaverous miis rotting back into pixels
facing starvation without google to help you find a restaurant
and when finally forced to look inward into that void
and give expulsive birth to the bloody deformed self
screaming mad cold and unable to focus
life begins

get it? okay, so let me put it like this. water used to be free.
now water is poison, so we have to pay for it.
air is still free. think there aren’t people working on that?
you know how to boil a toad? slowly so it never looks up from its iphone
don’t look up
all you’ll see are record highs and angry birds

William_Gillespie_headhsotWilliam Gillespie is the author of Keyhole Factory (Soft Skull, 2012), and publisher of Spineless Books. He has been writing newspoetry, mostly in and about Urbana, since 1996. You can see more of his poetry at

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