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Authors: Jon Paul Fiorentino

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Poetry, #World Literature

Needs Improvement

BOOK: Needs Improvement
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Copyright © Jon Paul Fiorentino, 2013

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Distribution of this electronic edition via the internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal. Please do not participate in electronic piracy of copyright material; purchase only authorized electronic editions. We appreciate your support of the author's rights.

 

 

Published with the generous assistance of the Canada Council 
for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Coach House also acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit.

 

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

 

Fiorentino, Jon Paul

Needs Improvement / Jon Paul Fiorentino – First edition.

 

Poems.

eISBN 978-1-77056-357-5

 

I. Title.

 

PS8561.I585N43 2013 C811'.6 C2013-904097-8

Neither the Austinian promise nor the Althusserian prayer
require a pre-existing mental state to ‘perform' in the way
that they do.

– Judith Butler

Dedicated to the memory of Robert Kroetsch

THINGS-AS-FACTS

The flesh-splashed summer risk

the long-glare congestion guarantee

the inadequacy of the what-you-knows

the unwelcome breeze, the calming allergens

There are parks and buildings and transport

and then there's your tacit asyndeton:

you remove, you revise, you mute

you want to tell me things you never will

First, you had it in your mind to construct

a rubric, a gift, a translation tool

that would allow us to present things-as-facts

you couldn't find the language

But, with your latest, defeatist polysyndeton,

you found a way to dream

and design and compose

the most pressing need for it

IN PERFECT WINNIPEG

In ill nauset I messaged you

In old Montreal I invoked you

In dead Winnipeg I owned you

I am wrong again

You should heed the words

of your last, last manager

(whatever those were)

In dreary Vancouver I exorcised you

In ruddy Brooklyn I remade you

In perfect Winnipeg I rewrote you

I am wrong again

LOWERHAND

String prose units, inversions

all the way to rural

Find ways to unthread then stitch up then

consummate lexical decoration then trash it

Your sleeve, your heart, your sleep, your spleen

Prepare existential theses
in medias res

or support local load-bearing relics

Let the winter do its kind work so

steal an almost-vintage jacket

Your layers, your work, your laugh, your use

Ensure your phrases enforce

tenets of exuberance

Don't alter a thing

gain the lowerhand

Your head, your case, your tense

  you're strong

HEY, CAROL MAKER

How is your daughter?

Do you still

live in Wolseley?

Do you still

have some issues?

Did they give

you that settlement?

Did it pay off

your mortgage?

Are you still

unemployed?

Are you still

unemployable?

She writes:

I've never had imposter syndrome

because everyone has always had it for me.

And whenever anyone says, ‘I love you,'

I say, ‘No, you are.'

HAPPENS

A file break undertow

wishes coma parallel

Phone call collection

agent misery and mulch

Brine dreg cellophane

never-hooded suicide on hold

Common paraplectic sorry

ruin and rune comma apology

I'm too old it happens

it happens

MINIMAL PAIR: SIMPLETONS

When I said we made a minimal pair

I was deep in linguistic conceit

It had nothing to do with your character

it was strictly labio-dental

LONGSLIDE

189 Allenby Crescent –

swollen breath, gravel

chase me back there, boys

Or recess –

hide under the large slide, descend

above me, girls

Eight-track stereo –

croon dylan's Christianest album

all shag-carpet orchestral

Some basement –

pucks shot with splintered sticks

battered washer/dryer

Vocational high school –

chase Father's white rum with Mother's

diet soda

The perfectly good air –

choke on it

settle for being the perfectly bad son

Now –

the long slide,

the trickle-down dying

WINNIPEG COLD STORAGE COMPANY

When we hate to have been excited by
Winnipeg, what kind of hate do we make? We
ascribe an agency to Winnipeg, a power to
excite, and position ourselves as the objects
of its excitable geography. We hate that
Winnipeg acts, and acts against us, and the
hate we make is a further instance of
Winnipeg, one that seeks to arrest the
metonymy of the prior placing. Thus, we exercise
the metonymy of Winnipeg even as we
seek to counter its metonymy, caught up in a
bind that no act of storage can undo.

 

The title of ‘The Winnipeg Cold Storage
Company' poses the question of collective
memory and what it means to say that ‘things
might be done with storage.' The problem of
collective memory is thus immediately bound
up with a question of performance. What
does it mean for storage not only to store, but
also in some sense to perform and, in particular,
to perform what it stores?

 

Recent proposals to regulate Winnipeg myth
on site, in the facility, and in other similar
facilities, have spawned a set of ambivalent
cultural consequences. The spectre of regionalism
has become a privileged haunting in
which to re-evaluate the cause and effects of
civic shame.

 

The question of whether citizenship requires
the repression of Winnipeg is not new, but
the recent efforts to regulate the self-storage
of citizenship within Winnipeg repose this
question in a different light. After all,
Winnipeggers enjoy some of the rights and
obligations of citizenship, but not all of them.

 

To argue that certain archives of Winnipeg are
more properly construed as identity rather than
history sidesteps the question of storage. storage
now appears to be the repression of citizenship,
and if Winnipeg or pornography or the mayor's
office or cold are no longer accepted as ‘history'
then the repression of any of those customs would
no longer appear to be Winnipeg.

TRINITY BELLWOODS

Down to my last

lyric

Do you know the word
pilling
?

It's a piling on of fabrications

You wear it well or

wore it

Free-range derangement commences

as denizens make strange with tenses and moods

I saw an old cancerous friend here

who said, ‘I remember when i used to be creative –

They cut it out of me

all interstitial-like'

Now, the lies and years are

piling/pilling

I will miss you when you shun me. I write these

things for nothing

You remain

the best nothing I know

A SLOW, STUPID METRONOME

With decades behind, one still boorishly chases the dull candles
held by those somehow traipsing through the uncomplicated
life; one just an acknowledgements page away from calling it
now, one page away from done. Over it. so very over it. With a
brisk rendering of complexity, shrill and shrugged repeats of
days, and one is an unparented swiller and one's tonic and balm
no longer enough. soon there will be no verb. The countables
wreck their own units; static laughs, lit up and tweak-weary.
diplomacy taints the micropolitic. Countless hours, of course,
spark sluggish decades and one loses games one isn't even aware
of. There is this one thing that all things are made of, one says,
and the dull-witted say, ‘yes, this.' One does not, should not.
still rhetoric eases. The peculiar sting of fact-unchecked quirkfactor
hymnals and yet one chases slow-moving candles and one
fattens and withers in season – slow metronome. A slow, stupid
metronome. Then, at some point, there is no real verb but an
unrelenting need to call it and to call it in time, listlessly, to call
one's own over it.

BOOK: Needs Improvement
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