Poetry Drawer: Text-messy age: Strange, dear, but: I-less in Gaza by Mark Young

Text-messy age

The e-mail kiosks lock
on to me as I
cruise the Mall. My exo-
skeleton — beltbuckle,
glasses, the tips of
my shoes, even the
decidedly feminine gold chain
I have around my wrist —
lights up with messages. They
are not for me; I am being
mistaken for someone
else. But there are few
shops in this part of
the strip & I’m a snoop be-
sides, so I read them with
half an ear, even though
my heart is in the jeweller
looking through their
recipes for eloquence &
my soul is in the toystore
set on rich dark fruit
cake laced with brandy.

Strange, dear, but

true, dear. The Cole Porter song enters
my morning mind as if it had every
right to be there, as if it lived there &
was returning home after a night out.
But not simply the song, a specific rend-
ition of it. k.d. lang’s, first heard on the
Red Hot + Blue tv special & subsequent
album compilation. What is stranger is

how to interpret the locus of the singer,
of the mindsong. In the video, k.d. lang
sings as if she is person who is being
sung to; & in my mind, it is also as if I
am the recipient. To personalize, it is the
not-I singing to the other which is me. It’s
a tableau that has a logic only because
of its similarity to that Magritte painting

La reproduction interdite in which a man
is looking into a mirror in which his re-
flection is thrown back, but as if seen
from the back. Twenty years ago I wrote
of this painting: “Shown from the back
the image is androgynous — think k.d.
lang in her man’s suit phase.” & here she
is again. Strange, dear, but true, dear.

I-less in Gaza

Nothing makes sense
anymore. Everything
does. I bind my camel
to a smokestack
at the edge of an
anticlimax & set the
guidebook alight to give
me light to better
read it by. The hidden
pattern in the last
flicker of a hologram
tells me I’m
in Machu Picchu
where I shouldn’t
be. Entropy arrives
to peck out my I-
balls. Equilibrium. It’s
a eunuch experience.

Mark Young was born in Aotearoa / New Zealand but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. His most recent book — his sixty-second in fifty-five years — is with the slow-paced turtle replaced by a fast fish, published in 2023 by sandy press.

You can find more of Mark’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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