Robert McKay


(detective’s notebook)

Washed from day’s bloody shirt the cloud shook & strung across the river on silver pulleys which make the metallic noise of insects in the intermittent shudders of evening—in a spasm of escape subject leaves apartment, the apartment locked in the verticals of waterfall, cantilever, plumbline; verticals which resist, & at the same time define, the river. Subject wanders, has perceptions, reflects on those perceptions, while the river keeps splintering the reflections of a sky’s flapping rag. Subject stands transfixed by sunset’s vast, bloody spectacle. Subject returns to apartment (caught in the verticals but having observed theses verticals from the perspective of the river which is meandering & diagonal), cleans the kitchen, makes dinner, & writes the poem. Subject abandons the poem & slips out again into history, which is a river & a path of slippery stones & a diagonal staircase meandering into the sea; which is a spectacle of vast slaughter playing on a looped sky against which trees stand like torches or like witnesses called to the stand

(subject to detective)

Swim glass lakes of interred volition, contusions of a crumbling star fervently orbiting your hair slick like a solipsist animal’s pelt drenched with ambition or with blood, it’s hard to tell which, till you beach your bone-hulled desire on quartz beaches, beaches that keep time by atomic alignment to an obscure sucking, a tide that pulls their crystals apart into smaller & smaller watch components, or the components of infinitesimal spaceships that ruffle the island’s aphrodisiac trees with jets of nuclear flame, ripening the retrograde clockfruits whose seeds are wound backwards into coiled mirrored blades, and as you drag yourself half-dead with need up the beach, you look up, clawing the matted sodden hair out of your eyes & see your fate, just as it steps soundlessly from a throat-like opening in the forest

(detective’s notebook)

Tuneless singing hanging over the neighborhood like air pollution or like rags of laundry faintly coughing, like the faintest coughing of an antique brachiosaur, miniaturized by time & by popular indifference, resigned to her fate as a small-scale public utility fed scraps for methane conversion; tuneless singing like a bad hangover mocking you with its sunnysideup cranial tambourine band, ripping passive-aggressively the smallest shreds off the already-frayed hems of your attentional fabric, inducing a barely-perceptible nausea with its hectoring tonal fingernails & making you wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to move your office to the bottom of the waterfall now, among the bubbles & the fucking fishes or the drive-by fertilizing fishes, where at least there’d be white noise, which is, at times like these, even better than silence


(subject to detective)

crush the counterrevolution in my blood the desire at last reappears
with music
Will it stay may it stay red w/ iron core of my blood
tensile column
of spirit skyward earthward will I
my contradictions in dialectic vector of
(Desire’s engine laying its own track
in the
wilderness of every day

(detective’s notebook)

Espresso in a rocks glass with lemon peel & Peychaud’s. The circulation of affects, of materialized signs. Spatial configuration of the urban grid maximizing blogability. The interstitial light wedging in under struts & half-erected rebar. Securitized debt the residue or form or cause of your appreciation for the niceties of value theory. (Marxism in the academy secreting films of chitinous wing-casing over the cauterized reality of FIRE’s penetration of the planning process.) Exoskeletal formulations accrete over the poured-concrete geometries, the rust-algorithms. In pourover cafes a blaze of ephemerid glimpses of the value-relation’s undergirders chars whole sectors of the FANG server architecture. Half-erased dams illumine half-deleted rivers. The sobs of the Superfund-spiked pipes are the only sounds which fluoresce, which emit, which emote, without being converted into capital. Instead they are converted into crisis-signals which are converted into capital. A spoor of phantasmic photoseminal material traces the projected night along the eternally rising wave-flank of the condos; a seminal work of site-specific plot collapsed into replay climax endlessly duplicated circulates as the medium of arousal. Capital curls against the desiccating skin of the infrastructure & purrs its conversion formulae as the river injects novel fever agents into night’s bloodstream

(subject to detective)

That I put off. That I stuff back
in storage. That I give in. That I gave out.
For I caved in. For I forgot for I got
what I asked for. For this is not
a genre. For the glass perimeter
folded w/ a song. For the population
was barefoot. For my will was lame.

(detective’s notebook)

An animal contentment licks its chops.
A receiver vibrates in the night.
A mind
wanders over frozen tundras,
lotus-growing islands. Islands
in time where hrs. thicken to yrs. My
voice is choked. I speak thru
a stone microphone. I speak
thru a grafted slab. Of flesh
sold by the square meter. Of mind
metered like electricity. Of a song
soiled, sliding its belly over smoking
shards toward the mouth of a cave


(detective as sonneteer)

The subject wavered. Blue turnstiles
ratcheted around the nocturne’s fulcrum.
Blue steel pour in the sepulchrum
of an offshored foundry where the rank & file

were filed to an abraded stub. O bile
of substreet ducts, collective choler, pharma-
spiked deduction runoff slicks the tarmac,
& wharf littorals leveraged were, all while

the subject vibrates to be more than abject.
& I, detective skimming newsfeed’s oily
crawl, drill down thru code’s compacted lattice

& trawl the shale for a caloric object:
fossil in which the moment’s truth lies coiled —
(it’s over & the Fat Man gets no satis-

(sonneteer as subject)

The structure a negative frame around
Darkness. Lines broken like the ribs
The whale left to scaffold the sky
Is the new pink, the new flesh tonite
Extrapolated back from impact to harpoon
The monumental corpse reaching
Your chest collapsed negating extension
Event horizon bleeds the backlit sky-
Line by line the code streams nightly
Down to the beachèd margent of the sea
A trash littoral skimmed by serrated
Gullflights trace pharmaceuticals &
Drones spying on lovers over the fence
As gravity is negated by children flying

Robert McKay is from Burlington, VT. His first book was Cities of rain (Honeybee Press, 2012). Poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Green Mountains Review, Existere, Ditch, Siren & others. Robert teaches high school history & lives with his partner, a union organizer, & his cat, an agoraphobe.