Deep Cover Costumes
Surely the body is made of stranger things than politics can steal: the tangled residue of stars, the plastic bag and orange peels I kick past the bridge, flaming nerves splayed across ancient and forgotten avenues, the stomach-heavy goodbye to others that always feels a limit on anyone’s remaining days I see now I really did believe that the stories of languages breaking open the embedded money source were the victory of changing grandeur over the paltry measured ties misnamed time— I could never believe that people meant the counting, the stacking, the definitions the dividing, that those could be more than misunderstanding even when burned in iron; The world is simply not anything any of us say of it our names are strange delusions pulling us back from a brink we are always falling through— it has no shape no words it is not a brink we are not anyone there is no falling
Copyright © 2017 Mark Wallace. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“‘Deep Cover Costumes’ is part of my multipart long poem ‘The End of America,’ a work centered on the geographical and cultural conditions of southern California, where I’ve lived since 2005. I wrote the poem in spring 2017 when I, and maybe many other U.S. citizens, was questioning how the political life of my country had become what it had and what could be done about it. At the same time, I was wondering about the limits of my own understanding of the world and asking what parts of existence could not be accounted for by cultural and political conditions. The poem explores how cultural realities can become a cover for things we don’t understand and are maybe trying to avoid understanding, how insistence and certainty can become a way of ignoring the fact that much of what we claim as knowledge is really made of stories we’ve invented to protect ourselves from the vastness of the universe.”
Mark Wallace is the author and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and essays. His most recent poetry collection is the book-length prose poem, Notes from the Center on Public Policy (Altered Scale Press, 2014). He lives in San Diego.
Date Published: 2017-11-28
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/deep-cover-costumes