Friday, July 24, 2009
"When I say 'post-/Apocalyptic,' I mean "contemporary"/Nick Demske's provocations in Half Glass
Nick Demske is a dangerous man. His principal offense is poetic, mostly in the form of blasts of sonnets with shrapneled linebreaks and toxic content. The work plugs into the formal obsessiveness of John Berryman, the outrageousness of Frederick Seidel, and the clownish political prophecy of Allen Ginsberg, as he challenges our (bourgeois) taste and what it hides.
Here are a few sonnets from Half Glass (2009), a chapbook of "self-portraits" which are evidently exploded subjects themselves.
In "Hot Dog," he skewers our Dorian Gray-like obsessive concern with our appearance (and the global inequities and devastation we ignore, and how it comes back to us as violence).
Does this fanny pack make me look fat?
No, but it makes you look like a big fucking idiot.
And, also, slightly fat, yes. I have no idea what a hot
Dog is made of. If you're going to act like a brat,
I'm going to eat you like one. Why feign this as coincidence? Why don
Ate your body to science when it could feed
An entire village? I want to lick you in places that would leave
My tongue bacterial. Does this hard won
Prosperity make me look fat? This humor so dark you mistake
It for chocolate.
Nick Demske, you are everything wrong with the world. Which is to say: the wor
Ld. Share with me your most secret ingredients. This megamart once was a for
Est. These teeth marks, once a kiss. Does these priorit
Ies make me look fat, these scars, these explosives beneath my sweatshirt?
In the hard-minded, "As Far Away," (published in Moria), Demske challenges our beliefs--for example, on the necessity to fight every denial of the Holocaust. Demske's poem is not a "holocaust denial," but rather a reflection of the odd power of denial itself (which is to say, that the more one attempts to suppress certain ideas, however insane, the more those ideas accrue a perverse power). Further, the poem pushes our thinking about what it means to know the Holocaust at all, or what it might mean to "believe in" the Holocaust. There is no argument here, but the staging of a kind of comic nihilism against the backdrop of historical trauma. What, indeed, can we ever know events distant geographically, temporally, psychically?
AS FAR AWAY
“mortals were careful [then] and never forsook the shores of their homelands.”
The Holocaust never existed. What are you going to do
About it? The Holocaust never happened, but your mother’s autopsy reveals
It can if you just believe. To
Page this person, press five now. All sales fatal. All sales
Symbolically representative of mortality. I know a woman so redolent
Of pulchritude you’d contract second
Hand erectile dysfunction from the mere hint of her figment.
The Holocaust never happened. Better luck next time. A woman
So pulchritudinous you want to turn away, as far away
As humanly possible. I meant to do that. For old time’s sake. When
You’re finished recording, please hang up and try
Again. God is of not much use here, like a lesbian
So beautiful she turns gay men
Straight. I don’t believe in the Holocaust. Amen.