In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Three Poems
  • Charles Bernstein

Audio clips here are in the .mp3 format and were originally recorded at a reading by the author in Charlottesville, Virginia (September, 1994). Thanks to Pete Yadlowsky and HACK for conversion from analog to digital form. More digital audio poetry is available here.

Soapy Water

From The Absent Father in Dumbo (Tenerife: Zasterle Press, 1991 — out of print).

audio clip

You’ve got to be patient sometimes—sounds like ananaesthetic, I’ll be the doctor—but jump upinto the next available hoop—Nick calling“Where are my galleys” they can’t be lostin the mail because they went Federal Express.But something is always not there & if it’snot apparent ingenuity (the mind’s perennialingenue) will think of it, rest enskewered.These are the saltine days—salty & soggy. Thestruts are finished, the shocks are leaking, & like the man says, there’s always a simple solution—simple & stupid. With the rug pulled out turns out there was no floor. & float, flutteringlybehind or in bed with what salience has nosurety. The thing expressed—sounds like some sort ofpizza franchise, especially with the choicesnow offered—broccoli, zucchini, Belgian sausage,seven variety mushroom. No grade like the gradethat blew the gasket. Turns out to beslop corridor, 7 days to shapelier nail filings,was there sex before Catholicism?It’s not as if an economy of loss is not in—you can’t say circulation because it is kind of anticirculation: all this nervousenergy dissipates production & erodes accumulation—so you don’t have to get so dramatic, talkabout death & sex, or so moral, talk about idledhours—all that you ever need to lose is wasting away inanxiety’s natural spring geysers. So let’sbury that knife, & in the morning we can eat meat again.


audio clip

There is not a man alive who does notadmire soup. I felt that way myselfsometimes, in a manner that greatlyresembles a plug. Swerving whenthere were no curbs, vyingnonchalantly against the slot-machinelogic of my temporary guardians,dressed always in damp patterns with inadequate pixelation to allow for the elan sheprotested she provoked on suchsleep-induced outings in partialcompliance with the work-release programoffered as an principled advance on my prostate subjection totales altogether too astonishing tosubmit to the usual mumbojumbo, you know, over easy,eat and run, not too loud, nobright floral patterns ifyou expect to get a job in suchan incendiary application ofdenouement. My word! Ellen,did you understand one thingFrank just said, I mean, thenerve of these Protestants, orwhatever they call themselvesor I ain’t your mother’smacaroni and cheese, please, noice. Is sand biodegradable?Do you serve saws with your steak,or are you too scared to claimanything? No can’t do. “Ilearned to read by watchingWheel of Fortune when I wasa baby.” By the time I was 5you couldn’t tell the slippersfrom the geese. That’s right,go another half mile up the cliffand take a sharp left immediatelyafter where the ABSOLUTELY NOTRESPASSING sign used to be, you know, before the war.Like the one about the chickencrossed the street because he wanted to see time fly or becausehe missed the road or he didn’twant to wake up the sleeping caplets.A very mixed-up hen. “No, I can’t,I never learned.” By the timeyou get up it’s time togo to sleep. Like the one aboutthe leaky boat and the sea’sfalse bottoms. Veils that part todarker veils. So that the fissuretwisted in the vortex. Certain she waslurking just behind the facade,ready to explain that the joke had beenmisapplied or was it, forfeited?Never again; & again, & again.“Maybe he’s not a real person.”Maybe it’s not a real purpose.Maybe my slips are too much like pratfalls (fat falls). Maybe the lever is detached from the mainspring. The billiard ball...

Additional Information

Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.