My Brain Is Mad for Baudrillard

Today, I read of scientists’ warnings
about the potential dangers of sex
robots and thought of you. Some blame
the rise of right-wing populism
on postmodern windbags like you, holed
up in your university office, giving head
to your shadow. But Jean, you were right—
we are living in the desert of the real,
where signs metastasize like cancer cells,
and who hasn’t felt the Foucauldian
grip around her wrists, her ankles?
Even desire a simulacrum of itself.
I drowned in you as if in a frozen lake,
but either I or the lake was dreaming.

More by Elizabeth Knapp

Requiem with an Amulet in Its Beak

At night, I leave all the lights on in my head.
This way, I know the dead can find me.        

Sometimes they toss me their worldly trinkets:
the moon, wobbly as a child’s loose tooth,
a tuning fork, a spear of lightning for my song.

Like a magpie, I collect them.
I line my own death-nest
with the baubles of the dead.

Nothing, not even death, can harm me.

Self-Portrait as Cindy Sherman's Instagram Account

And why not Sherman herself, you ask?
Because in this instance, the inclusion
of social media denotes a postmodern
approach to self-portraiture, a Baudrillardian
hall of mirrors in which the self is projected
against a million anonymous eyes, all hungry
for a taste of her. How will she deform
herself next? Will she sport a new prosthetic
chin, her hair stand on end, electrocuted?
A Dr. Frankenstein in the lab with herself.
A million followers, and not one will ever
know her—nipped, tucked, and bruised beyond
all recognition. Das Umheimliche: an unhomely
home. A rubber crotch on a mannequin.

Poem in the Manner of the Year in Which I Was Born

Little poem, you are too young to remember
the smoking gun, the con man on TV
who looked like a supervillain, or the hominid
skeleton dug up in Africa and given the name
of your childhood dog. You never heard a word
about the IRA bombings, nor did The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre terrorize your sleep. Having no use
for money, you do not understand the concept
of stagflation, nor did you marvel at the satellite
images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. How much
you have missed in the span of half a century!
I want to swaddle you in yesterday’s headlines
and send you back down the river, no wiser
than the day you came blaring into the world.