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Ed Pavlić

Ed Pavlić is the author of Let It Be Broke, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2020. He is Distinguished Research Professor in the English Department and in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

By This Poet

2

with grief with fury with action

when we lose track of the person   not to be
confused with that democratic fetish
‘the individual’   when we lose track of that particle
that permeable pool of plasma
the person   and take human reality
to be a solid matter (most often
male) of people’s (often enough clotted
into mobs   often enough mobs of so-
called ‘democratic action’). . . Jesus
Christ let’s just call it conscious intention
lashed to the cleated post of mute
inheritance   we need to be very careful
in that situation   when persons are
pushed (ultimately at gunpoint)
to feel that they have nothing to
lose and that can feel (though most often
it tingles numbly) like freedom
but it’s not   freedom is never that
we must be ve-ry careful    more
careful than anyone can actually be  
because it’s dangerous when it feels
like anything’s possible
but nothing can happen   very
dangerous when it feels
like anything can be put immediately
on display but somehow
nothing can be revealed   to live
in a world (so-called) where
everything’s within reach but nothing
can be touched   maybe
it’s a terrible truth (quite possibly
a truth of parenthood) that for any one
thing to be known (or touched)
everything else must be complexly
felt   as if thru an infinitely
sensate dilation   pure aperture   maybe
that is the open and awestruck light of love
and it’s very simply never ever
simply just that   which is the spark of art
iculate speech   an S curve pulls parabolas
thru a syncro-mesh gearbox   a sudden break
in low clouds off the coast
and into a remorselessly gray sea
of eyes pours a silver sheen   a glistening pool of pain

from “all along it was a fever: a what poem”

xxxix

The hard edge of historical light, it waits up for us
all night. Here’s one brutal but apparently
necessary historical bargain: I said that the energy
between you and the person next
to you is truer than it is real. This is not a randomly
existing fact. It’s a collectively and intelligently and menacingly
cultivated feature of our lives. Fugitive fact.
This puts you both—puts
us all—in peril, yes, but protects that energy between us.
If it were the other way, if that living thing between
us had become more—even as—real as it is
true we’d be more protected than we are
but that thing, that sacred being
-between would be endangered. The intelligence
of collective action knows, somehow, that that
kind of security is far more dangerous—the kind of danger
people become to themselves, then to each other,
the kind they become to each other, then to themselves—
than the peril in which we stand now. That’s a hard
historical edge to stand near, real talk, that’s the broken
back of a mother—black—skipped across a wit-quick crack in the sidewalk.