With thanks to James Brown, Michael Dickman, and Ryan Walsh
you’re a sex machine
a brand-new bag
the hardest working man in the breathing industry
every time you flex a muscle an earth quakes
jet across the stage on one foot
it’s a breeze
you will spawn
you’ll feel good like you knew you would
igloos make you hot
no need for air conditioning or Xanax
your will to power really a war on your will
please please please please
baby don’t go
The Truth About Structuralism
Who was it? Bernard-Henri Lévy
or Claud Levi-Strauss
who invented structuralism?
Does it make any difference?
If signifiers slide around indefinitely,
become so slippery that the signified
is obscured like a woodchuck
inside a woodpile, then
one Levy is just as good
as another Levi.
What’s a little méconnaissance among friends?
Take, for example, birdfeeders.
Everyone knows that birdfeeders
are squirrel feeders.
Feathery signifiers fly
along metonymic skyways, fade
into faux-rodent metaphors
that decimate birdseed
which is also squirrel seed—
like a penis which, Lacan insisted,
may be a fleshy protuberance
but not destiny. Turns out,
Freud’s a metaphor for Lacan
who insisted that a phallus is forever!
A phallus is a penis is a bullet is a cigar is a rocket is a casket that penetrates a grave, is a chrysalis that births a moth, a butterfly, a centipede, or a power broker on Wall Street, and on and on...
That’s the point, so to speak.
A little écrit goes a long way!
The Truth About Return
I don’t have to go back to where I came from because
I’m a white man. What a relief!
I’d hate to have to return to a country stolen from
the people who first lived there,
a country built on the sweat of slaves, a nation that continually
manufactures reasons to go to war,
or where a white lady spit in the face of a black friend who wanted to drink
from the same water fountain as she—how her spittle, like white lava,
trickled down over the decorations on his US Airforce Uniform.
I’d hate to go back to a place where disagreement with the government
is met by chants of love it or leave it,
or a place where ersatz storm troopers march with torches shouting Jews will not replace us, or where the leader avers that Nazi
sympathizers are good people.
I’d hate to be shipped off to a land run by a tiny group with lots of money
and guns, where attending a movie, or school, or a concert
is a fear-ridden, anxious, ordeal.
I carry my white privilege everywhere I go and, like the actress
in the old joke who sleeps with the producers, directors, even
screenwriters to get the part only to be repeatedly injured once
filming begins, my question is:
Whom do I have to fuck to get out of this movie?
Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Permafrost, The Paterson Literary Review,and elsewhere. Charlie recommends the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.