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02-07-2018


Linh Dinh

Borderless Body

Before, I was a miserly person, dried up, stiff, 
Stuck, completely wrung, stuttering, fanatical,

But this morning, my skin felt unusually cool and conscious. 
My body tingled. Suddenly I could understand and speak

2,000 languages. My soul blossomed, my breasts budded.
I peeled back my foreskin to scrape clean all of my obsolete

And labored presumptions. My teeth, the gaps in between 
My teeth and my breath felt unusually fresh and clean.

I could see very far away. I could sympathize with each
Strand of hair stranded on the skin of each person.

Shuddering, I ejaculated for the first time in life, into life.
I became aware of my miraculous vagina and anus.

Finally, I had been allowed to spread out, to blend into 
All humans, animals and things. I just wanted to leap up

To kiss everyone right away. I just wanted to service 
And suck everyone right away. I also wanted to be sucked

By everyone on this earth. I was willing to forgive 
And apologize to each toe joint on each person.

Naked, I walk through the street as the very first human.

Brand New Products

A vigilant gun that always picks out 
The right target-even if it's you-
No matter who you're aiming at.

A computer that listens and blows you, 
As you blow it, to your favorite tune.

Meat that cleans your teeth
As you're masticating it.

A truck so awesome, only the President 
Of the United States of America's allowed 
To careen in it, to his own beat.

A dictionary with positive adjectives only.
A dictionary with no wet verbs.
A dictionary with negotiable definitions.
A dictionary that defines words by their antonyms.

All the greatest hits from the last millennium 
Performed live, on stage, on the inside 
Of your state of the art, acoustically-enhanced skull.

A complete set of nude photos
Of you, taken by you and sold 
Back to you-at a discount.

A sex doll with a mirror for a face.
A sex doll with a Ph.D.
A sex doll with adjustable skin tone.

A sensitive sex doll that just wants 
To be friends-a Platonic sex doll.

Rain water in a bottle, sunshine in a box 
And ambience sounds from a bus stop
Down the street, recorded on a CD.

A 24-hour video of what you did yesterday.
A 24-hour video of what you'll do tomorrow.

A super realistic photo of what's outside 
Your window, pasted to your window.

A baseball game that never ends,
To be played simultaneously with 
A football game that never ends.

Cluster bombs that scatter copies of Leaves of Grass 
Over a thousand mile radius, for a thousand years.

Landmines made with dough, 
Topped with mozzarella and all 
Your favorite toppings.

An airplane that never lands.

And, finally, your favorite fairy tale
Painted on your new plastic limbs.

Quiz

Invaders invariably call themselves:
a) berserkers
b) marauders 
c) frankincense
d) liberators

Our enemies hate us because:
a) we're sadists
b) we're hypocrites
c) we shafted them
d) we value freedom

Our friends hate us because:
a) we're bullies
b) we hate them
c) we're hypocrites 
d) we value freedom

Pushed to the ground and kicked by a gang of soldiers, about to be shot, you can save your life by brandishing:
a) an uzi
b) a crucifix
c) the Constitution
d) a poem

A poem can:
a) start a war
b) stanch a wound
c) titillate the masses 
d) shame a nation

Poets are:
a) clowns
b) parasites
c) legislators
d) terrorists

A nation's standing in the world is determined by:
a) its buying power
b) its military might
c) its cultural heritage
d) God

A country is rich because of:
a) its enlightened population 
b) its political system
c) its big stick 
d) its geography

A country is poor because of:
a) its ignorant population
b) its political system
c) its small stick 
d) its geography

A man's dignity is determined by:
a) his appearance (skin color, height, etc)
b) his willingness to use violence
c) his command of English
d) his blue passport

Those willing to die for their beliefs are:
a) idealists
b) terrorists
c) suckers
d) insane

Those willing to die for nothing are:
a) principled
b) patriotic
c) insane
d) cowards

Terrorists:
a) abuse language
b) hit and run
c) shock and awe
d) rely on ingenuity

Smart weapons:
a) render hopeless and dormant kinetic objects 
b) kill softly
c) save lives
d) slaughter by science

Pain is:
a) payback for evil-doers
b) a common misfortune
c) compelling drama
d) suck it up!

Humiliation is:
a) the ultimate thrill for bored perverts 
b) inevitable in an unequal relationship 
c) a fear factor 
d) sexy and cathartic

The media's job is:
a) to seduce
b) to spread
c) to sell
d) to drug

The Internet:
a) allows us to be pure minds 
b) connects us to distant bodies
c) disconnects us from the nearest minds and bodies
d) improves illiteracy

Pornography is:
a) a lie that exposes the truth 
b) a needed breather from civilization 
c) class warfare
d) nostalgia for the garden of Eden

Correct answers: c, d, d, b, b, a, d, a, a, c, b, b, b, c, b, d, b, d, c.
-If you scored 14-19, you're a well adjusted person, a home-owner, with an income of at least $50,000 a year.
-If you scored 8-13, you either rent or live with your parents, never exercise, and consume at least a 6-pack a day.
-If you scored 7 or less, you're in trouble with the FBI and/or the IRS, cut your own hair, and use public transit as your primary mode of transportation.
 

      -from Borderless Bodies, Factory School (2006), selected by Guest Editor Ocean Vuong

  


BIO: Linh Dinh is the author of six books of poems, and four books of prose. His latest titles are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). His Selected Poems will be released by Chax Press in 2018. Since 2015, he’s been a political columnist for Unz Review.

PROMPT: As in Linh Dinh's "Quiz," create a list poem arranged in some sort of "common form," such as a scantron test, a police report, a 1040, etc--anything as a-poetic as possible and see where it takes you. 



 
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