There, reading against the traffic, a car
crash between chapters.
Alphabet via street
signs. C is for Con
meant an actual kid, singing to herself
all the silent billboards.
Then those days—when you were starting out,
as they say—you were sulfur
frozen at Odeon
when strapped to the masthead,
The table by the mirror reserved
for all the baby lionesses.
And now. You are living the app.
A pop-up. La Vida App!
Too many words, not enough ears.
An instrument of life, of instrumental life,
In those days—raised by the book, zine,
velveteen couch. African
violet. Your face in the spider
plants. World of Our Fathers,
Hairy men bearing
Famous daughters’ names hidden,
like classical music in restaurants.
Children under oak tables.
Everyone under nine is “Outta sight!”
All stars, all
likes. All nothing.
And you know, it’s so much like every culture
business in which you are really nothing,
with some handler/mother/father guiding you along
toward ?option percent foreign.
You are something waiting to be nothing or vice
versa. As value
Dead Souls told me.
Ann says: In Minnesota it was
peer therapy on the phone, over coffee,
or on plush ottomans.
You’d talk for an hour then
the peer for her hour.
Unlike a real friendship, so to speak,
each person had to listen
their allotted time.
Now, the ads talk to us all
in cars. Bus stops move with
product. Streaming, advertorial, posted, scraped
mined. Reading is fracking.
Friends are what we handle.
Too many words,
not enough ears.
Alissa Quart is author of the non-fiction Republic of Outsiders, out this month, and contributes regularly to many publications including The New York Times. Her poetry has appeared in the London Review of Books and elsewhere.
You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.