greg purcell





Hello dummies, deaders, dark slights & weird hollows

Freed of all stomachs, dark hallway freedom

to slither in backwards backwards abandonment Hello

Deus, all of masters, and drunks dominae

Dithering in aluminum sleep cabinets impermeable

for die-cast epochs! Dandies with filchers, hands,

O thinkers, we greet you from the good end of Dickens

We greet you armed from the saxifrage, Armitage

deep of Damen, north of North outbellowing

Defective! Defective! Beneath the neon

of the heavy Schlitz sign! Deads! Ditherers! Deads!

Ditherers! Deads! Ditherers! Deads! Ditherers!

Ball and tussle, bring the lead and sing terrible

you skulls falling, skulls of maidenhead

skulls drinking halfway in the rivers

skulls dropping, skulls of infinite brain heaviness

skulls of perfect Chicago nights jawless & tumbling

jawbones of jeweled skull business chattering

on the pavement, skulls dithering moonlight

moonlight firecracker skulls with the hollows all burning!

I’ve heard your black cat science

I’ve heard your scientism and longing

I’ve heard your clickers and noisemakers

I call you, frumps and thrill seekers

I call you nights and bridges

I call you faggots and gendarmes and fancies

I call you middleaged babyless penniless

I call you wrestling and dangling juiceless

forgetful diabolical sleeping warlike

Pall you once and then batter, squeeze and tangle

your dicks dangling your baseless breasts

I greet you in excess of doom-fitness

Light filigree I read somewhere kill it!

Some combination, some trap

Assholes, engines, killers, light material

Fight deadlier clichés fight ugly edifice

Lift and dribble! Tighter, girls, tighter,

boys, it breaks apart when you start to ask,

Who did it? Who did the jackhammer baseness?

Where are the new streets they purred against?

Who did the shuffle and the jerk?

Who did the night sky as we see it, all new

& who did it like a starless gourmet foam?

Who rearranged the paintings and made them worthless?

Why is action all changed to suffering?

Who remade the poems? Who

prophecied the long thought? Why? Who centuried and tangled and ended?

Who made the magazines so hot? And why

not tattoos? Who made them tireless and fauning? And

what about the drinking water? Why

does it froth and dinge? Why does it foam? Why are the cars lifted on neon?

Who made their stories out of equations without

making them up? And what of the men

in the damp black rows? Why the amplifications?

You, man, with the Staropramen

turning your wet guts to hardscrabble,

& you, woman, with the cheap white wine

threading crystal filiments through your brain,

why is your world in danger? Why

do you run to it? Now of all times?

Who firmed up that liquor in your glass?

Who made it? Why does it attack? Why

does it attack us? Why does it seep

into the heart like a dead mattress?

Why is every precision loose?

Hello jerks, hello funnies.

Hello students and favors.

Get ready to be depressed, Cleveland.

Think Vitality, think Tacoma.

Think drown, tickle, fight.

Why are there cracks on the walls?

Why the whole infrastructure?

Why flight for animals? Why in stories?

Why miracles and sheetrock?

Why does it crumble? Why

is my apartment crumbling? Why

can’t I get rich, being decisive?

Hello biggies, cankers, my betters

and all of Halsted quivering tossed

new rivers slopping on Cabrini Green Pilsen Lincoln Park!

Chicago your mastectomies are failing!

Chicago, your Sullivans are aching to be touched

by fearless daylight aeronauts!

Your Ludwigs are trembling, the Jahns

are shedding aluminum in blabbering sheets!

Chicago your rivers are boiling!

Hyde Park is a masterpiece it’s committing suicide!

Wicker Park is running fireworks bursting!

The loop is tangled bodies ascending!

Wrigley Field finally blossoms folding its brickwork shell!

Lichens bryophytes vascular flora creep and stutter

the new landscape is restful furry graphic!

It all happened in the back room there

In that myserious back room with the radiator

A place to talk the back room with the door

that used to lead somewhere they know it her lips

were brushing his ear two lovers conspiring

the little stool creaking she said

during my little lecture here

thank you good night my friends gentlemen ladies

Chicago, the end of everything we know

let’s conspire to make it she said

let’s conspire






for Siebren Versteeg



Chicago was a fort before it came

Under attack from the city boosters.

Bigger than Sullivan, bigger

Than song—and any wine

You might have crushed

From the prairie flora will suffice.

You can stand in Grant Park and get drunk on it,

Howl at the lake when it’s frozen,

As if you were new to wine

And didn’t know it came

From such an exotic people as the French.


Lord, did you see that girl

With the shirt like a fabric cross?

Or that man held upright

Like a stack of old Reichsmarks?

It’s difficult to think here,

And not to bury your head in old work.

We tried to write a play this month,

Jay and I, but the play exploded,

Just as New York crumbles

Into a fine white powder

Or three new practicable words

Leading into dark forests

Whenever you try to touch it.

New York has everything.

That’s why we came here.


Yet everything, as you know,

Includes the vast horseshitting business

Of Outer Space, and the weird

Fly-wheel-push-button thing at its center

Upon which we sit edgewise,

Having reached the roiling termination

Of the economic world.

In New York one does not move side to side

Or backwards—one is pushed

Ever onwards, towards Mars, or the future.

Very soon, we will be rich.


I never thought this way back home.

Reading the Approval Matrix

In New York Magazine and finding

Your name there, stamped among the Brilliants,

Gave me some kind of thrill, as if Chicago

Had pulled itself out of the ground

And come to New York

And thought it was a hard-backed sofa

And sat down in it, deciding

Between reading the Post

Or the Chicago Sun-Times,

And only we could see

The skyline’s new elevation