Chris Nealon grew up in Binghamton, NY; went to Williams College and lived in Boston after that, then Ithaca, NY, then Seattle, before moving to SF to teach at Berkeley. He has written two books, Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Emotion Before Stonewall (2001), and The Joyous Age (2004). He has poems forthcoming in No: A Journal of The Arts. Chris lives in San Francisco and in Washington, DC.
The Joyous Age
Three Poems by Chris Nealon
This one time? We went out into the street
The horns impressed us with the emptiness of every defiant gesture, and
the drums suggested a permanent delay
But we went into the street, in goliardic joy and eternal mischief
Night fell; day broke
I want to write we felt like [ ]-orists but even partial words are
searchable now so let’s just say a band of outsiders
Politics had been given the name of a woman and I was fine with that
I thought, if I have children, will they still feel like this in 2046?
I thought, does having been a soixante-huitard make you young and
beautiful until the day you die?
Fog rolled in; lyrics floated by
And if disport could yield in fools simplicity completely unlike foolishness,
we felt like that
Simple like the hymns that greet creation
Bonjour! we said
Hi, this is the riot act? Hi.
(I know prose ... )
I know prose is a mighty instrument but still I feel that plein-air lyric need
to capture horses moving
Surplus of capital; economy tanks; you get called a faggot more
On red seats all around me children learn abstraction and heckle each
other in affordable new media
“This cold world we’re in is full of fresh champagne”
Un snack sólo para mi
When I was a child I thought, In Homeric fashion I will speak to each of
you in turn while laying you low
Now I stick to fragments transmissible, perdurable and the
crossword beauty you can make from them
To all the young Apollos: I’m aiming for the intersection of your swagger
and your ashes
Not that I don’t get it: looking eagerly offends the lords of scarcity
But check those dactyls, fabulous
It’s just too hard to live as though there weren’t some other kind of
To the masters of prose: Greetings!
I will die before I worship your god
In my apocalypse it’s teenage girls, they save the world a lot.
Wide open eyes and averted glances –
they can see what’s coming forming, how excellent is that?
“Seleucid”: extreme clarity / short interregnum
The window after Alexanders that seems super-upward
On the other side I greet them –
Welcome to the shortest century
Welcome to the reconstructed poem, scored and leavened
by forgotten proper names
I am here to praise your wisdom and your knack for pantomime
Your job? Just keep cracking Demeter up
Make earth bounty
Supercharge the particles
Combustible rag of world and underworld
“Trapped in those interiors, partying really hard”