Francis Raven

In Issue 1 on May 1, 2008 at 10:50 am
Empathetic Strangeness

        Artistic embarrassment is implicit in every mutual seeing

From standing to lying down
and back from sidewalk to sign:
    What are the ethics of sight?
    Of seeing someone's private moments in public?
    Are you obliged to turn away?
Whatever the visual morality of an instant
you'll move along to the next, if you can.

            "I'm going to get better at networking.  I'm going to look
            more people in the eye.  I'm not going to
            flinch about art."

    Did she give the poem
about the homeless woman
to the homeless woman?
        Yes, she carried it around.
        It's her story
        in case she can't speak
        between the legs of approaching embarrassed.

The motivation for connecting action
might be a strange Chinese instrument
you cannot pronounce
but merely reminds you of difference's whelm.

            If you write a poem
            about a homeless woman
            who everybody in your town sees every morning
            in the vestibule of the same bookstore
            are you still writing about a person
            or has she been transformed into a place?

        A person moves.
        I spend half my half
        saying that I'm spending.

    Some Rules:
1)    You cannot announce events to yourself.
2)    What is already the case cannot be announced.

In a voice that's ready to twist autumn leaves
around each other and see what causes decay,
what stream they move down,
but sometimes you realize
you're the one making him uncomfortable.

        And yes, he smelled of old body-odor,
        offered me candy in the middle of the service
        and I, embarrassed,
        declined humanism,
        until he showed me
        the poem you had written
        about his accident.
        And because he had an accident
        I felt bad about my purpose.

    Did he understand the present of a poem?
    Some words to ponder when formulating rules for giving gifts:

I had completely evaded the message of the sermon,
but did not want to repay,
only to feel that I had.

            Because her sign read EMERGENCY everyday
            I presumed it was fake;   
            Because there's an accident everyday
            I forget the difference of guilt.

        Quiet shudder of needing church
        and not being able to shake hands after the sermon
        because of that need.

Francis Raven is a graduate student in philosophy at Temple
University.  His first novel, Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil,
2005), and book of poems, Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox 2005),
were recently published. Poems of his have been published in Mudlark,
Conundrum, Chain, Big Bridge, Bird Dog, Caffeine Destiny, and
Spindrift among others. His critical work can be found in Jacket,
Logos, Clamor, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The
Electronic Book Review, The Emergency Almanac, The Morning News, The
Brooklyn Rail, Media and Culture, In These Times, The Fulcrum Annual,
Rain Taxi, and Flak. 

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