M is for Machiavelli, Marilyn Monroe,
the market price of madness, and icons
or monopolistic despots so notorious
as to enter lingua franca (the OED).
After Milton’s paradisiacal trilogy
gave evil a personage and name,
rendering sedition a fait accompli,
he now defends the pious
against Lucifer’s snares
(medievalist torture in a
technocratic age), lighting
matches in lieu of light,
sulfurous malodor from
a love of letters curing
the raw and rotten meat
of unrealized capital assets
to trumpet the good news
of (eureka!) realized metaphor.
N is for narco cartels: life’s
sundry narwhals (powdered
sugar, cocaine) supplement to
the main portion of prime rib:
surplus value’s necromantic feed.
N is for nursing until nipples bleed,
humanimal recalling the shadow-self
of one’s primogenitor: apes, or gods.
Female desire at cross-purposes—
the pleasure principle, gone haywire—
with nature, and the will-to-need.
Nipped in the bud, the arc of
spiritus mundi: nom de plume
of Mary before trading
nox aeterna for nirvana:
markéd (lyric) time.
S is for somatic pain, shellac of
armored bodies drying on
the battered boat Queen Mary
before the letters blur from
soot and rain. All aboard
the Pequod, hero’s journey
reduced to satiric joust,
sodden mates of Ahab
shuddering, after battle,
on the silo’s threshing floor.
Proletariat class, taxed
stands up, unsutured
from the tilt-a-whirl
of the Mad Tea Party:
cartoon strip logic
of Walt Disney’s
The magician’s ruse is understood:
it is ujjayi pranayama, victorious
breath, that syncs each letter in
the Latin alphabet, yesterday
to today, and each stacked
vertebra on the column,
Grecian, of your spine.
U is for the turnstile
whereupon you realize
you have been traveling
with the wrong tribe
for 10,000 years,
lost in the Upanishads,
scattered Orphic body
the sacrificial corpus
before aurora borealis
(history’s banned ur-text)
ignited, not as if, but on, fire.
W is for Watergate, twisted arm of
new media finally breaking with the
corrupt police state, warbling voice
of penitent politicos an emergency
siren stuck on pitch of panic. Clamor
of complaint, meet euphony’s restraint,
what appears beneath the waitress garb:
the body’s webbing, in svelte ligaments
and sculpted lines. Why is not a question
we ask around here, whittling whalebone
for the corset of Wittgenstein’s bride,
not as equation or game, but to survive,
averting colony (world systems) collapse.
Filmic trace of Wall Street cons seen
in 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda,
heist-comedy set in London.
“America is not always
a winner,” prophesied Archie,
diamond robber extraordinaire:
“Just look at the Vietnam War.”
Virginia Konchan’s poetry and criticism has appeared in Best New Poets, The Believer, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and Verse. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she lives in Chicago.