Excerpts from Drew Kalbach’s poetry manuscript, MQ-1, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
SMALL LANGUAGE EDITS
I have a boat and no mooring wait
I have a boat and no ocean no prissy backwater bits
Of flesh-toned grates in my body
My little babies my greyish green
Two-toned swamp monsters all rise
From their prehistoric haunts to come raise havoc or cry or
Whatever their grossed out seaweed faces love to do
I wallow in the shallows
In small language edits I now
Wordsmith my loved ones until their
Horror stories begin to match my own
Characterize the problem of art
Inertial initial entrance fee reasonably
Waived for one time only
In the beginning there was a contraction then light or
Something along those lines I reuse
Pixel after pixel for repurposed telecoms in breaking
Wattage legalities re: transmissions over the FM band
I have time over power or groups of committed
Individuals in small circles performing for the community
Results will only be viewed in aggregate
From above with appropriate hash and IPO
And cross-platform centric cloud based learning
Multi-user privacy focused algorithmic program.
Take a short customer satisfaction survey.
Content management is important
For optimal consumer integration.
It’s a spectacle, an incremental update to software.
I look down on satellite pictures
Of residential areas to find holes in the street where
Things get lost and find the natural in high-res smoothing.
Close Encounters On Rise As Small Drones Gain In Popularity
Tethering only. Been there
Life is hard
Appreciate the sympathy
I just want my luggage back.
May I ask how long you were together?
People seem to really love it
You could be one of those people
Sun goes down at a million o’clock.
Cables get nowhere.
Reboot the modem
get nowhere. Selfie time!
Git commit me minus am
Push to local server
I expose myself to rarified foodies. I enter the unmanned aerial vehicle. I enter the command center. In the comments section my body is on display. There is a new era in computing and the datacenter is changing to accommodate it. In total perfect harmony with all these avatars. I wish I could be closer to your phone. In near orgiastic agreement with all these strangers. My thought process stalls on the training which extends only to these controls. My lighting dims as gassed bodies show up in my browser. I have a cruise missile but no desire for remediation. Hyper-scale deployments of thousands of servers. Placed on display in the comments section, my body acts like a shaman guide for the anonymous racists. Come into the dim light of my chemically processed screen. Recycling is the only way to salvation. Obsolescent death spiral.
My buried invocation astounds:
All I want for my birthday is a big moody show
All I want for my birthday is a single muddy floor
from 1C (GRAY EAGLE)
I’m still a clicking being
I move to the Valley
Bright grass in the Valley the day never improves
Collect investments in the Valley
The Cold Valley
But I’m making art
in a time of cash empires.
I can hardly type my body into being.
Past vitriolic notes
under windshield wipers past
expensive buses for expensive companies past
The Cold Valley
where I’ll preserve myself
beyond death, in veneer
of spray paint and the will to live.
Where does your hardware come from
I’m out in the woods searching
for a GPS signal
to show me the right way
to the good path.
Badly migrating sand dune swallowed old staircase
Rotting tree lines
Little maw condensed pocket
On the approach, lee side
gives way to rain
and thick vegetation.
Small buildings implode
under the weight of the landscape.
Beneath the architecture
of copper wire and fiber optic
is a weird vista
of negative space under strain.
Soaked through boards,
structurally unsound, creak
under data loads.
Profile contained in a stream of logged becoming
It can be decommissioned
It can be spell bound and chanted out
It’s sun and watered transistor
That’s the feel good beat
they pay for and market toward.
Site of collective bargaining tools ad supported.
Site of broken code and error.
Site of the feeds your friends
repeat their post outing photo blogging over
sound effected sensory data
massaged and mixed through equalizers until
one long hum of white noise means
weeks of interactions.
Persistently toward stability
But this rough magick I here conjure
can’t block all tracking ads I’m
out in the forest
being counted for my heavy steps.
In my location based lifestyle
In my location based screening
In my locative procedural finagling of forever
reloading pages my skull connects directly
with high density pixel counts
and my relative position in honeycombed towers
and their relative position to fiber optic networks
and their relative positioning vis-a-vis satellites
and a monopoly on copper
all in a museum style layout with clever labels
I’ve never seen star dust
Drew Kalbach is from Philadelphia. His first book is Spooky Plan (Gobbet Press 2014). Read more stuff at www.drewkalbach.com.
MQ-1 is built up of three sections. It starts with 1A, which is the first armed version of the Predator. Next is 1B, which is the more modern version of the Predator and is capable of carrying heavier weapons and payloads. Finally, there is 1C, which is technically an upgraded version of the MQ-1 Predator, thus the renaming to “Gray Eagle.” Throughout, the poems are loosely anchored/grouped by a unifying idea/phrase in the header, which is finally dropped completely in the last iteration of the drone.
MQ-1 is my engagement with high/low culture through the internet, and includes appropriations, found poems, lines stolen from forums and IRC chatrooms, and love poems to drones. Early parts of the manuscript deal with what I believe are overwhelming and anachronistic trends in the poetry world. The drone is the perfect symbol for this clash and synthesis. On the one hand, it’s a Romantic figure flying through the sky, taking pictures of the beautiful landscape, etc. On the other, it’s a singular and hierarchal machine. The drone is beauty, nature, dismemberment, and technology wrapped up in an inherently political metal/plastic body.