From 'The Self Unstable,' by Elisa Gabbert

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

The word sexy is sexy. That’s how culture works. If you’re not “trying too hard” you’re trying hard not to. Irony is seen as a filter on sincerity; in truth both irony and sincerity are filters. In its pure form the data is too powerful. All language is descriptive.


When you suspect someone is in love with you, you begin to treat them with contempt. Cruelty is justified, even an obligation. You engage in the feminism of detesting attention. Despite your complaints, you hope to remain attractive. In fact, you become more so. Men test the limits of your capacity for cruelty, follow you into bars.


If information has replaced the story, what will replace information? We have arrived at the future, but its use is restricted to the military. UIs aspire to the uncanny valley. We don’t want to get over Romanticism. The bankruptcy of collective memory. The etymology of “hi.”

Elisa Gabbert is the poetry editor of Absent and the author of The French Exit (Birds, LLC) and Thanks for Sending the Engine (Kitchen Press). Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Laurel Review, Pleiades, Salt Hill, and Sentence, and her nonfiction has appeared in Mantis, Open Letters Monthly, and The Monkey & The Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics. She currently lives in Boston, works at a software startup, and blogs at The French Exit.