In The Lecture Hall

Oh, alright (sp). So there’s no I or you or we.
Whoever (try what) gets here in one piece 
squalling is just a number, a quantity, a kind 
of numbness. What (ever) brings everything 
to consciousness is the history of the social 
furnace (I and you and we melted down) flowing
into molds. Dear Reader, you (may I call you 
that?) know all this, not to mention how an ICBM
pokes its nose out of a silo in North Dakota, waiting
for the button.  This is the year that fathers drift

into the stylish Neant, the big zero, the philosophical
blast.  I—if I had an I—almost remember the draft 
physical on Whitehall Street, all of us naked 
as plucked chickens and bending over for the 
rubberized finger up the ass. Before that, the cough 
to see a testicle dance, the penlight in the eyes, 
the gong of hearing, the telltale confessions on 
paper. There’s no health without a war. There’s 
no self in the fridge or the trash the super brings 
up twice a week from a dank cellar. There’s 

always this problem of each day’s bagged
exhaustion filling the cans, left on the sidewalk 
for the next truck. All these strangers wearing 
heavy gloves, flies swarming around their heads,  
who smell of sour milk and rancid skins, notice
how they toss the past, how they sometimes lift
it in the air, invert it, shake it out, how they call
themselves historians. But this is unkind.  They
only follow the blood trails. They only clean up
a mess. Maybe if someone (!) had an inkling of voice

there wouldn’t be grief. Or the free lunch the Army
serves. Or the puzzle: if I am not I, what do I owe?
And to whom (No, no. What!)? Let’s clean this up.
Between wars, something thrives that has no name.  
No face. Oh, the lovely homes! The phantasmal
lawns! The huge-finned automobiles! The conical 
shapes of women’s breasts! The real and the unreal
equation: 2S(elf) + 1A(ccident) = 1S(self) —1F(ate)
+ 1H(ealth) − 1L(ove).  But the point is, it doesn’t
matter, because however it turns, you are not there.   
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | Genesis