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Ghost Burning

Talking to yourself 
around the house

“Dad I ouch”

Stoned volcano 
yoga stretch 
to change 
the water 

Honest as in filial lie
(Love is its belief)

Wiki sublimation
O prankster god 

Coyote info 
Friday the 13th

No figure 
for the speech

Good to going
going gone

Draw a line
between us, fumble
with your articles

Define it in 
define it out

A garden, the fountain
blossoms, curve
your eyes wet curls or turn

the meaning out 
of dreams is drop

the blossoms, cut
the line and stop









Sea Lyric

for and after Lisa Jarnot

I am a green FOTON dump truck heaped with delta soil
cut from the alluvial plain buoying up Shaanxi Nan Lu
on a Thursday evening buying Sichuan pepper peanuts
and two tall Super “Dry” Asahi silver cans. “KARAKUCHI.”
I am APAC and graying temples in Uniqlo Heattech™
raw cashews and roasted pumpkin seeds shrunk-wrapped
in celadon flex-Styrofoam beds with the smell of lice shampoo
in the makeshift bathroom of the makeshift half Deco house
made & shifted before the war and after, wafting in with flower
markets blooming round and all the people feeling capital
the traffic lights through warped French windows counting
down, a bird today, it’s possible, in a cage singing, talking,
joking with old men smoking, I am on the Metro headed
home from Shanghai’s transit well, the old railway station, I am
stuck in traffic near the mudflats by the river, I am yet
however still, tattooless, in fleece, and feeling newly brave









Block the Entrances

but one. This is first strategy
and last forgotten long after

the goats and sheep and cattle
pass from our lives like gallery-

opening chatter there’s a glitter
here it’s true like a mortuary error

bad hair or PM2.5 day = “health
warnings of emergency conditions”

the rule is sewn into our
actuarial sorrows, our

sweater selections, seaweed
thatch & fishing nets, terminal exits

black hole gifs, the goat mongers
of the oasis, the clam diggers

whose alluvial delta motets
turn wherein PERSEPHONE

offers predictive thanks engines
to GUANYIN wherein PTSD rage

is like arming M on the Bund
Trenchancy says wha? like 

remember cool pillow crackles
the fiery animals that lived

in our heads, for once now
is/must still be enough

till extinction we remark we’ll be
here waiting to go









HELLO 2015

“O meager times, so fat in everything imaginable ! imagine the New World that rises to our windows from the sea on Mondays and on Saturdays – and on every other day of the week also.”

                                                                                                  —William Carlos Williams, Spring and All

“Twister, Dust Buster, hospital bed”

                                                                                                       —Lee Ranaldo, “Skip Tracer”











The question is boring and so lists

fracking subsidence sinkhole formation ex-permafrost tundra deep-water offshore platform listing

such an obvious move, she thinks, and we’ve seen this film




Basement reminiscence, 1/64" drill bit, balsawood biplane,
machined spiral, pressed sawdust unspooling blue
electric motor ozone haze, sawdust-crusted duct tape
sneaker sole split concrete floor, garage door chain, oil patch
wood glue, turpentine preteen divorce passage
up to this just-read second’s trending anthropocene chic, mercurial
glitch DJ nomads, mad frequent flier miles son, late bluefin tuna
sandwich (Shanghai’s finest) loose consular coke gossip




Non-binary curious aversion to pronouns: as if my identity slips with us in utterance away to them, and falls so false that oops we could no more quite be: or rather must, not as us, but rather someone-else-just-the-same-as-us but on now (love’s singular verge or blade) confirmed in our desire to cross over & pass through—too afraid not to—just like the others

We imagine ourselves not at all you-and-me just oneself: alone, broken, exhausted, too alive, alive too, just too, merely on some other side, in love with some one or another, not me

Yet enough like you as you used to be

Whomever we’re for, or were, rather, falling as we know we may be/have yet been/or can never hope to be, in love again, as we—yes you-and-I—imagine otherwise, again, again & again, compulsively: It’s the death of thee, Romance!



Confusion boring deeper, lists, viral mores appear spiral and Thee Reborn lists
finally and sinks into the cold bay so deep and blue


It’s January 2, 2015, and I’m 45 and 13 days. Just short


with new mutations

of what my browser is the history of

like Big Data say, PLA NSA





No, really: as in “you or me,” yet more again, yielding new questions. This one attracting foxes






to the mountain and its will-o-the-wisps
we must escape the city’s heat we must

for diminishing returns rose
from the swamp among us
in dark sweet muddy haze Shanghai

spike not even interruption graph quite
because you always leave almost
thinking in the browser—where were we?



Lost to cold fox-bidden, fox-hidden thoughts
in the mountains and the forests and bamboo above

Discussing Shanxi terroir, wine
chemistry, climate change, húlíjīng



And in the process of thinking it became and it thought I kid you not he became the Fox Spirit then thought not in language, not in emblem, not in correspondence nor in syntax, but in one blot, as if our all-consuming moment now doubled, trebled, bloomed: you too, drupelets, ink, all-consuming memo, meme, with him, her, you, exponential us & crash until we all thought one blot, and think it now again, to the end, sewn into our threads, our eyes, base pairs, postconsumer face-savings, carefully spelling “ends” for the Fox Spirit’s kid who inscribes its momentary double in characters — 狐狸精 , nine-tailed fox — and then nods off, in the air, on our palms, thereby spacing, relieving mind of yet more memory, and so to write in this book with this spike

“…for oblivion,” says the Fox Spirit in his oilcloth trench coat, fedora, vintage boots, Chang Jiang sidecar motorcycle and Cornish accent, obliterating “Chinese culture,” he spat “they have…”




And there above the presumptive wartime torture chamber, a mote in my phone camera eye: the other Fox











Fogbank cap-punctuated terawatt LED arrays—light theory from near futures, alternate worlds bought on speculation, pure abundance you imagine and you buy it—lights coursing up & out & through, white-red-green-blue-white-mirrorball Pudong from the Bund, golden terroir above the muck-black Huangpu, silver scales where you went down into the go-downs, junk docks, catfish mudflat rats, bamboo everything, sepia-toned coolies, ladders, European and white American race enthusiasts out for a day at the track now People’s Square, down to today’s tourism tunnel and the ’30s wallpapered Deco dummies beneath the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Tibet Road, 2015, Line 1 Entrance, “Western Treasure House,” 西藏 ,Tibet, People’s Park overlaid upon the Concession-era colonial pony oval—

then the fireworks crowd surges down the promenade, down Zhongshan Lu, same street name all over China, the same street that has become all China, the street with all the edges gathered, attending power, and frayed, hissing like weathered thin shopping bag plastic shreds in trees and the fence, not far from the heart, central yet centripetal too, hoping to smile, just-polished bank floors, Heaven reflecting us there, too, like blood the fireworks 

as underground live streaming
from the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel

where up from hungry Hell or worse,
thirsty Heaven, floating sudden down



not yours
the blood
not yet


I wasn’t there
and besides I didn’t
see anything


Nanjing Dong Lu: Forever 21, your surprise companions, they      
go with you when your heart stops, Eight of Them, Immortals, riding
in Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Jaguar
& Hummer

in the Floating World
 of engineers, managers, Tesla owners

while peasant vendors on trikes haul all away
below to the Sorrowful World: There, pedaling

quaintly where
I, too, enter





The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is real takes you through MAGMA and HADES to PUDONG
in SK People Movers to 2001 where one may still
believe in old futures, Vegas green atomic
outer space, even, and yet time only
travels backwards through you
who remember nothing
but the world as it was
speaking its wonder in
lies flash-frightened
smiles beneath
the Huangpu



Spirit money for souls of those
departed as here rumors burn

and speculation runs to cash
coupons floating down from

the neocolonial club balcony
over the Bund where Opium-

for-silver inscribed ghost web
headline reads inverted: RELATIVES














That’s an easy movie to make, she thinks. Oleg the furrier (“call me Ollie”), White Russian exile, lands on his feet, catlike, in old Reno after a rough time in Shanghai and a rougher time leaving, and the roughest yet on this, the other side. Passage across the Pacific out via Yokohama on the NYK Line (midnight knife fight, man overboard seven hours out of Honolulu). The outrage on Angel Island with the crooked San Fran gangster cop. Cashing in on a favor owed by the Chee Kong Tong boss. And then sitting down beside her on the Overland Limited out of Oakland. She held court at the card table in the club car: Kickapoo-Irish-African girl-in-trousers-and-a-jacket just off a stint in a big top novelty jazz band. Carla. She’d worked Shanghai, too, playing her horn in drag with Buck Clayton and his Harlem Gentlemen at the Canidrome Ball Room. Anyway, she was on her way home, she said, her folks’ farm outside of Lawrence, but planning to stop off first and see about a holiday-season orchestra gig at the Pair-o-Dice in Las Vegas to make back the money—dog track winnings mostly—that Johnny’d swindled out of her in Yokohama. Ollie knew Johnny: there were scores to settle both ways, and Fate had it in for whoever, it didn’t matter. Cut to: chases from car to car throughout and atop the train and a stop overnight in a dying desert mountain lead mining town. Kansas City and then on down to New Orleans. There everything collapses. Morning radio news of planes bombing the International Settlement. They hit the Great World, where Oleg first saw her: she’d stepped out of the mirror maze as he’d exited the shooting gallery. Half way through Kansas, she seduces Johnny, then chloroforms and strips him and leaves him tied to a bunk on the Illinois Central. She’s fallen hard for his sister, who’s been with him the whole time, keeping watch for Mother. Ollie gives chase, steals a Studebaker. He’s smitten, too, but not with love. The movie practically makes itself. The motorboat chase and tropical storm and fade away into the Gulf, and she falls asleep to occluded gray-tone frames, brass reeds & hi-hat sizzle gassing through speaker static, hissing neurons at the laughing gas ball, beautiful sounds all ’round.













Creon lay delay (Echo), Antigone frames the goose. Dead cabaret. An ancient Greek theater mask projected into the night haze over the city in laser holograph. Tragedy, you win, comedy you lose. πρόσωπον in the smog. Cut, paste, search. The Huangpu river dragon requests the call center management conventioneers (awake in their drunk dreams, dead awake, looking) return to when the real Chinese invented Cthulu




Antigone fires her life coach




This wasn’t the idea, she said, clipping the “d” in “idea” with the tip of her tongue on the teeth in that lingual smile one naturally makes when one says “idea.” The furniture was/never was checked for fleas? DNA? Hash crumbs? Give me an upper, says the Emperor, so I may throw down. This is the wormhole doper version of events, replete with soft-focus needle-strewn parks and junkie cougars. Please don’t hurt ’em Hammer, states the Shirt. The Emperor hurls a bolt. The Dragon awakes, rolls over, zero-to-ten-seconds infiltrates the city with its SMOG. The Emperor cast his line. Plunk. Up from the sewer grates arises the New Thing. She crinkles her nose in polite disgust: “same as the Old Thing.” The Emperor does not, of course, deign notice, the CLOUD having enclosed them all, drowsing now. The air churns cadmium muds, the sun & your eyebeams go slower and slower in the humid night glow.




Bodily remains













Fighting heavy in the morning giving way to uneasy peace by afternoon. The skink escaped, leaving its tail behind. Back to school.












all possibility to the point of extinction
is consciousness. A verse new aware
that it’s us, entangling possibilities
in the one we already know
from a verse just like
us: just slightly off
every time until
nothing like
us nothing
at all















impersonate blank
noise in the air

every broken stop
pull the wool off

pull it on repeat
daily and ever

like/unlike ritual
him he’d cross it

out and crumple it
up, or make it stay

which is worse
which is worse?














air obsession mitt invisible
the will overwhelms us all

the only way out’s deeper
in, accelerant, factotum

class, do whatever every-
where property climbs

even blind limbs like old-time
history fuel, plenty wicks

way out one side
burning in the other

as our aim pulls high
to miss every time




Rubber buckshot rounds chambered in a cop shotgun:
Fiocchi is one company that makes such rounds. People
intentionally set out to manufacture hard rubber rounds
with which to shoot other people if you are police or

whatever or beanbags! The riot of color outside us, the language
we use to gauge our being, report on it, inform, betray
love one another desperate. I know this style
is recherché, I mean real dead by that.

Look, the zombie craze shows the turn of the century to have taken over
45 years and counting (1968, Night of the Living Dead), a slow turn to —

back home




On this day in history in 1349 the citizens of Basel rounded
up the city’s Jews and incinerated them, believing them
guilty of having caused the Black Death.

Shackelton’s Nimrod expedition “planted the Union Jack
at their southernmost position, 88° 23'” on this date
in 1909, just 180 kilometers short of the Pole.

In 2007 on this date Steve Jobs would unveil the first iPhone,
and thus is history-as-a-poem revealed within our lives
as pleasingly vexed plays at self-liberation from one
among others, won with some form of love or betrayal
worth having been betrayed for, or another—call it, if

you will, brains





David Perry

DAVID PERRY lives in Shanghai where he teaches in the Writing Program at NYU Shanghai. He is the author of one book of poems, Range Finder (Adventures in Poetry), and two chapbooks, Knowledge Follows (Insurance Editions) and New Years (Braincase Books). A new chapbook, Expat Taxes, is forthcoming from French [Concession] Press/Seaweed Salad Editions. He holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa. David blogs sporadically at Pyramid News Scheme and Art Basilisk.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2016

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