Two Poems

It Is Impossible to Be Private, Modernly

It amazes me the Midas hustle

to make anything a job

so long as you have the gumption

and by gumption I mean the means

my lover has a friend and by friend

I think he means a former lover

who was a phone sex operator

for men into tickle porn which I guess

means men who get off on the illusion

of the most primal laughter

I have a friend myself who writes

scene by scene synopses of films

like Cliffs Notes I guess for students

who don’t want to watch movies

but still need to know about them

it is counterintuitive to me

that in the age of mechanical reproduction

the reproduction would be words

neither comforting nor disturbing

I acknowledge that everything we have

is a simulation of something else

that most work is making content or a machine

or making other people work

last night we had dinner with an old friend

of my lover’s which I do mean here platonically

she is a woman newly engaged to another

woman who is rich enough that I knew

not to ask about her work

which is hard what else is there

to talk about with strangers

thank god all of us at least are gay

thank god the real friend could tell us about

her new enterprise as a lawyer

for a cannabis operation selling lollipops

and cookies and the very flower itself

we call it flower here I love it here

she says everything is legal and if I want

to be alone I go to the end of my block

and am alone

 

 

White Noise Machine

For several years, the years
immediately preceding instant even
dial-up connectivity, I would
nearly nightly tiger balm my feet
and walk upon my father’s back
to knead the knots left from his

workday, the many hours
he spent upright soldering switch
to wire to forge the guts
of air conditioners. Very rarely
in those years did I attend
to any artificial coolness

passing through a given room
and consider whether I had
my father to thank for that—
certainly I neglected the weak fan
of his childhood, a child then
myself, my curiosities selfish,

undistractable fixations,
digging around in solitude for years
at a rock I thought was not
a rock but a dinosaur fossil,
and when I found it was
(surprise) no bone, I felt the stone

fall through me, pointless crag
I spent recess roughly ages nine
to ten excavating. What passes,
passed? Friendship for one.
The countless occupations
of territories, our armament

and bombing of different
childhoods for another, where other
children, I imagine, were inventing
their own desires for both preciser
and more extravagant ways of looking,
though safety and unsafety, of course

make relative our notions
of extravagance and precision.
I think about my father as a boy
kicking takyan, a hackey-sack
of burlap sewn around old rice,
the oily rainbow of a rooster’s feather

fixed into the tip,
kicking, kicking, dreaming
about what I wonder,
while from my Lolo’s candy shop,
The Cascades are singing Listen
to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain,

American doo-wop that lands
in a Cebuano alley eight years
after climbing the U.S. charts,
Lola Rosie sipping Coca Cola
from the bottle. Meanwhile
in America, I’m pretty sure

we have arrived at the frontier
of I’d Like to Teach the World
to Sing, the horizon is a mountain
verdant and vaguely anywhere
from which what we call the West
begins. We begin with white women

joined eventually by a sea of others
who want to buy the world a Coke.
And who exactly is the world?
The multi-culti octave of a product
is somewhere I can go to now
immediately, if I am curious I simply

plunk the impulse into my
consciousness machine, the market,
the surveillance apparatus
I am each day tethered more
completely to. I paw and draw
my thumb down with desire

to know, because I want to
and I can, because information originates
with the skin’s encounter,
my father beneath my feet,
the rock I apprehended
with my hands to see the whole of,

the men I worshipped wandering
the Walmart underwear aisle as a boy,
my arm outstretched to them,
as if through a window on a roadtrip.
Sound, picture, feeling: the feeling
beneath the guzzling of a product

is the conviction of an elsewhere.
I don’t know how I got here,
I remember my father saying
once to me—we were together
on a porch swing in Virginia
at the lip of the house my family

has rented for two decades.
I was less a child then, my failures
by this point blinking into clarity,
like the fireflies we watched tessellate
the dusk, my father’s air conditioner
factory now a manufacturer for those

fan controls we use to cool computers.
What keeps the network breathing.
Who tells us it is healthy to desire
the mirage and not what is before us.
What do you think you want to be
when you grow up, my cousin asked me

the first time I visited the Philippines,
Archaeologist I said, what about you.
I think I’d like to be a receptionist
at a hotel in America, she said.
The border of the possible,
I can never fully understand,

is subject to conditions of who
vacations and who is vacationed upon,
the work and siege we do
or do not live in. I think about the places
I go I’m surely dusted after.
Who cleans, who eats, who manages

and who makes, who fabricates
the air conditioner, who daydreams
in its cool. What systems are in place,
my father’s tubes and breathbox,
for his apnea, for example,
made in China, where the company

sends him increasingly
to work now, because the cheaper
labor, where the parts
are made also for my own
white noise machine,
the little palace of artificial air,

or real air rather,
rendered artificially into sound.
The thing I have the luxury
of switching on to dream.

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Kyle Dacuyan

Kyle Dacuyan's poems appear in Ambit, DIAGRAM, and Lambda Literary, among other places, and he has presented performances at Ars Nova, the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, and FringeArts Philadelphia. He is executive director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark's and curates Greetings from Queer Mountain at Housing Works.