Here's a sample poem, "The Rumored Existence of Other People," published originally in The Iowa Review and republished on Poetry Daily. This poem's got everything: Mephistophelian irony, a Kantian relation to objects, a humor that is both
I dreamt my household consisted largely of objects
manufactured by people I would never meet or know
and some of these objects dangled down from the ceiling
while others towered dizzily upwards from the floor.
If most of them stayed where I left them as if dozing
in embryonic thought, still others came with features
conducive to movement, making them appear more
endearingly alive as they powered up and off in search
of excitement, an hour's diversion—no harm in that.
Intuition stopped short of determining whether or not
any of the objects kept in contact with their makers
via some kind of bond, perhaps a physical connection
explicable through science, or else a spiritual affinity
notoriously difficult for an outside party to understand.
But the more I gave it thought the more it seemed to me
believable. A silver line, a souvenir, a sieve of relation
meaning to release something lovingly means always
remaining tied to it. As to be somewhere completely
means never having to leave. I thought to figure out how
many presences collected around me at that moment.
Did they possess consciousness, would they cooperate.
Should I expect a new kind or the mundane damages.
Everywhere I might be now in light of where I've been.
I dreamt I held out my hand and before long a banana
flew up from the industrious parenthesis of Costa Rica
and provided for that hand before it knew it wanted.
Start slow, be consistent, and your levels will increase.
I dreamt the will of manufacturers to produce goods
was shed from those goods long after they were made.
All the windows overlooking a landfill or production site.
The more I gave it thought the more it seemed to me
obvious. Also touching. Whoever built that warehouse
across the way built it thinking someone would one day
look at it in wonder. Also sorrow. To keep an endless
store of that feeling. To make, to provide it. That I might
turn my back on a building like that will have become
unthinkable tomorrow, when my sympathy with most
abandoned things is effectively cut from the budget.
I dreamt in increments of three, five, and eventually ten.
Not the way the objects at hand rubbed me but more
the way those beyond me made me pang for them there.
I might even say the walls, the floors, the plush carpets
unrolled on the floors and the furniture, the refrigerator
and any item in it, nautical tchotchkes and the curtains
clamped tight as August quahogs to optimize my output.
The shedding of the will, too, takes place incrementally
across decades, late at night, the little shifting in a room's
air profile comparable to a ghost's entrance if not quite
equivalent. At work beyond the warehouse, everything
else: droplets on navy felt, protection sensed in a system
whose products had begun to forecast accurate wants.
I dreamt a body's indentation beside me on the mattress
vanishing as the presence found the door through a film
adaptation of silence. Child with gifts for ravens in pockets.
Lady affianced to alien abduction. Figure of the human
experiment almost over. I open my mouth and in no time
lasagna, Chianti, a greater than expected rate of melting,
atrophy, military action, and a ravenousness that shook
my confidence and the hinged box I keep pin money in.
The rumble of it recalls the convulsion Plato says the gods
sank Atlantis with to chasten its inhabitants, whose vast
majority descended from Poseidon and one of the island's
earth-born shepherdesses. As long as divinity remained
predominant in their nature, Atlanteans kept obedient to
the laws of their progenitor, but over time, what was divine
diminished, and love of wisdom and virtue gave way to
love of wealth and luxury, which in the past had seemed
merely distractions. To those who lacked the ability to see
through the radiance of things, the Atlanteans appeared
to be thriving: palaces, baths, mines rich in orichalcum.
Herds of elephants. Vineyards, orchards. Access to upwards
of a dozen sherbets. The chance to astonish houseguests
with golden oblongs and lozenges. To watch as vampires
turned mortals into vampires for cash, despite the fact
that vampires could easily devise a life without having to
dirty their pale hands with money again, but apparently
nothing restores that old vitality like a night of spending.
I dreamt a percentage of my money had been touched
by entrepreneurs of the undead. I dreamt I'd never guess
how much. Dreamt no idea where my money had been.
What bathroom floor or choir stall or Alp or what disgrace.
Dreamt I couldn't taste a difference. Dreamt my money
might want company, and I had better not keep putting it
in my mouth in that case. As drawing from a songbird's
coloratura, I dreamt the secret to prosperity is being
commonesque. Profiteroles, remote control, the ruin of
my body. And tremulous as horses hidden in old plaster.
Confused as vinyl siding. Certain as what's happening
can't have all at once, or even all that fast, but by degrees
imperceptible until too late, eyes trained to other tasks
as the sheep took to clover, distracted as a vortex of plastic
debris measuring twice the size of Texas patched itself
together mid-Pacific, a swirl like a god's intoxicated eye
but not surveillant, voyeuristic, a bright new continent
only in it for the kicks, its culture to bask, its historiography
accidental, with every bit of flotsam serving as a double
record of one product's manufacture and consumption.
I dreamt in complex packaging that posed no less a threat
at the factory warehouse than up among my cupboards
or dropped in the superabundant trash bins at airports.
Found it simple and good to forget that threat by letting
perception of such objects eclipse true knowledge of them.
Any worry washed in umbra. Like being in the moment
only endlessly. I hear the naked hands of strangers make
my dumplings but experience insists what makes them
mine is money. I open the door and I extend good money
into ancient night, night prosperous with stars, order heavy
in my hand. I'm immortal that way. I lie down and I feed.