Volume 20, Number 1

Something You Believe In

Something on the radio says something you believe in. Something on the radio will understand what you want to hear. What understands will understand the sexual. It knows that the intuitive is true, that truth is a sign. What speaks will say that governments change, that jokers lurk beneath the deck. What cries will cry for something and something will make you sad. Perhaps it is that ruffled blouse you bought on eBay, or a forgotten malaise rekindled by a song. The radio will sing its song, will tug at your purse strings, will hope to banish gloom. White noise is a shared poem, a voice between stations. What speaks will speak of rumored outbreaks, bubbling soda, something acoustic and offline. Something in it worries that staples bother you more than the stapler. Something in the radio wants what you want, dreams what you dream; that your secretary is at her desk, seated comfortably between your ears. It wonders at your politics, your choice of preset stations on the dial. It hears the sound of snowplows, liquid nitrogen, white chalk on a classroom blackboard, advertised segments within the featured presentation. It understands propaganda.

Somebody on TV says something you believe in. Network news postulates that a setback is not a sedation, that sudden intensity frazzles the nerves. Daytime drama touches an imaginary nobility, a sparkling island in a vast ocean. It cries for something & something makes you scared. What wants to move will cry to move & something will make you scared, soft rain on the solo race downhill. Within the objective, a train of thought, a trail deduced dissolves into a leech-filled lake. Your television cries for direction but direction drives it mad. It understands the light of day. It knows that a soldier is true, that truth is metamorphosis. It says something you believe in. It says that propagation is a wish, that employment is a cold red brick. It pretends that a mushroom is not a cloud and that force is company. It touches the clandestine informant in your closet, hears the stall of engine 4, senses indifference and dives into the story.

Somebody in your morning paper says something you believe in. Journalists point to slippery rocks and swim for shore. Time is a restriction, a supervised redundancy. A ten o’clock scholar hopes to beat the clock, to see readers converge upon the grass, to read about convergence on the grass. It knows that the linear is true, that truth is spiral, that the circuitous is something you believe in, that demographics fluctuate, that politics are flagrant and effete. It hopes to ad-lib, to improvise, to evacuate your city and to get the story right. It is the story that the story repeats. The reader cries for news & something makes her sad. Something in the world is missing from the news and something in the news is missing from the world. It is the devious ore, the ticking nuke, the atomic particle, free and unavailing. It wonders about partings, platoons, and personalities. A daily journal liquefies an imaginary need to go on living. It flows into and out of countless lives. It hopes to simplify life, to operate a news-stand.

Something in fiction says something you believe in. Something in fiction is a galleon which postulates circumnavigation. What writes within the writing, dreams, and dreaming, knows what match is lit, what fire breeds fiction. It says something you believe in, then retires to scoff, to rein in the possibilities. It wants what you want. It lives to scheme. It worries that deconstruction bothers you, that mythology simply repeats the sermon. It subdivides what intimidates you. It hopes to bribe art with culture, to prime a pump. It is the personal comfort a keyboard multiplies. It pretends that a measure is not a refrain and that narrative is a formulated purée. Fiction knows that perseverance is rewarded. It hopes to confront, to address its reader. Something in it resents the third-person pronoun. It is the reminder this fragment repeats. It cries for something & something makes you sad. It is the irreclaimable modifier, the cremated lie. It dreams what you dream, that a large book lasts the summer, that Christmas-time is here again. Fiction senses that its public supports its sense of self-determination, its momentum in a word count. Fiction wants what you want: to quit its day job. It tries to stop but doesn't have the will. It says something you believe in.

Somebody's blog says something you believe in. It says that the blogosphere is neither a poem nor a prophecy. It says that the blogoshpere is a sign and a wonder, fundamental and well-mannered. It wonders about Mars, politeness, school policy. impending war. It hears the sound of melons rolling off the table. It senses the political, sees a line up, and wants your vote. The blogosphere wants what you want, to sit down and soak its feet. It cries for something & something makes it sad. It is the slow bending, the looped recorder. It touches an imaginary nerve. An imaginary nerve samples a sound mix, senses a hit, & seeks your blessing. Your blessing is a cool sip of Bud in the privacy of an unsecured network. Bud touches an imagined smugness beneath an ever-present reality. Beneath the mundane is the impulse to sanction continual renaissance within urban myth. Urban myth transports an ancient struggle to the streets of Madison, Wisconsin. Gilgamesh, on the streets of Madison, wants what you want, seeks to satisfy a legendary appetite, seeks your links and feedback.

The government says something you believe in. The government is an uncontrollable spasm, a pocket veto, a lame duck which hopes to ratify a bill. A practical government is the docket the assembly repeats, dead news wasted on a dead world. A government wants what you want. It strives for clarity, for hope, for parity. A government knows who sneers at truth, what grows on trees. It says that to wake is to die, that sarcasm is a dog after its own tail, another shallow generation unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice, the self-interpretation of self fulfillment, the flag on a candidate's lapel.

American industry says something you believe in. Industry is the moving loom, or the stationary hat on a moving head. It wonders about pantomime, unstated desire within a silent gesture. Whatever moves puts another route on the map. It hears the sound of static, the electricity of opinion. It hopes to keep on moving, to sense a motion repeated, a satisfied need. It says something you believe in, that choice is both a shopping center and a state of mind, that particulars are rivets and that connections are unavoidable. It picks real fruit from an imaginary stem. It understands the social truth in the marriage of sleep and quiet longing. Industry dreams what you dream, that withdrawal is an alien poetry, a hostile takeover, an idea forged between the hours of 9 and 5.

The university says something you believe in. It says that fluids are true to form, that form is functional myth, until you wake or die. It says that an administrator is a compassionate public servant, that telegraphy is copper wire in a course on Morse Code. The university is an exam the sophomores repeat, a formless scurry, a machine which understands a map, and a map which takes you nowhere. The university understands the nature of art, to matriculate and to survive matriculation. It knows that your spirit is true, that truth is silent and something you believe in. It believes that allegory is attachment, that roads are open and bridges are down. It understands the planetarium, revolving light in a world of containment, eternal time within a Monday afternoon seminar. It says something you believe in, that human resources are depleted, that students have abandoned fundamentals. It wants you to get up early and pay attention. There is something out there. Something out there hopes to monitor the halls, to be aware of suspicious behavior. Something out there hears a bell, and wants its report card. It wonders about containment: the moon in its orbit, the sword in a scabbard, the animals in sewers deep beneath an unsuspecting city. Something in it hears the construction of ghettoes within the department of sociology, hears microbes disconnecting within life sciences. It worries that something bothers you beyond your chosen curricula. It wants what you want and says something you believe in. It predicts an emerging species, sees a phase you're going through, and wants to comprehend your point of transition. It is a gas, and sometimes a liquid. It is the nationalism that war elicits.

Religion says something you believe in. It hears a sermon, senses weakness, and calls the minister into its office. It is a runner who doesn’t worry about distance. It encircles the memorial rally. It senses that something hears you breathing and dreams your breath within your breath. You cry for something and something makes it sad. It questions your research, your conclusions, and your punctuation. It wants to fill your life with commas, to reserve periods for infidels. It hears the sound of drainpipes, and something you believe in, circling the drain. It senses a pilgrim's devotion, sees a shadow, and lines up at the post office. Its weekly newsletter is a holy ordinance, imponderable morality to accompany your morning coffee.

Poetry, too, says something you believe in. It says your taste is true, that truth is either a private or a public matter, that matter is either incandescent or somewhat murky, that mute rage is both idle and reputable. The poet knows that rain is falling, and demonstrates the skill to navigate within a storm, between the worlds of sleep and those of copper wire. What wonders is both wonderful and offensive. The poem advances its formation, its armor, and its weaponry. The poem voices the sound of a rubber chicken, of novelty lost. Its sound is a deep hacking cough from within a tomb. Within a tomb, a mummy wonders about snipers, sit-ups, and clean sheets. These are the concerns of poetry, its linen wrapping. Poetry homogenizes and elucidates our bother, our dull routine, noxious and dead to honor. It wonders at parts of speech, sourdough, hearts, shellac, tremors, rumbles, stingrays, the possibility of love and the impossibility of satisfaction. It is asphalt and cold to the touch. It is the surface upon which we hope to move. It dreams what you dream, that a verbal city is loot for the taking. Whatever knows you in a poem knows you better than you know yourself, it knows that the whole is true, that time is the intangible squeeze, Beatrice on the Brooklyn Bridge. It says something you believe in, that sleep is complete and essential. It is the quick scan of an image, the totem repeated. It senses trouble and fills a stadium with cognitive evacuees. It gets into the car just to hear the motor hum. It is the anemic music within the grand finale of this social critique. It smells the greasepaint, takes a punch, and leaves the stage. It plugs into a circuit and glows. It hears the sound of friendly fire, seeks amnesty on neutral soil. Something in the poem is something in the world and something in the world is the main attraction, the focus of our scrutiny. Something in a poem understands light and sets the film speed on a pinhole camera. Objects, in focus, populate a paper sky, something you believe in, gathered in an aperture.

—David Highsmith