and every word, read them all please. always
The teeth at the back of my mouth were clenched but the lips at the front of my mouth were chapped and softly parted. My eyes felt like they were clear but brimming. My body felt muscular, limber, and easily activated. My breasts felt heavier than usual. My genitals were slightly more aware of mortality than the rest of me. My nails felt very long, and as if they were going to catch on something. My adrenal glands felt visible and external, as if anyone could see clearly how at that moment I could deadlift a city. Many times I was only wearing a towel.
My hair, if I touched it, felt like it had a tangle in the back a little to the left that is like the one that showed up every day after work this week. I do not know how the tangle happens at work, but I have been giving these epic lectures – a three hour one on Emily Dickinson and Feminist Bravado, and a two one and a half hour ones (twice) on Hannah Arendt’s What is Freedom? which is this compact but complex essay that addresses action, the space of appearance, natality, the miracle, and the possibilities inherent in nonsovereignty, which is a lot about what happens when you figure out what it means to live in a world with other people. I suspect the tangle comes from the high-level-waged-work-of-talking, but
perhaps the tangle in the back a little to the left happened because my friend had told me that I was a narcissist with a ptolemaic postioning problem who makes “fucked up” projections onto other people that they suffer which I then mistake for empathy. Perhaps the tangle in the back a little to the left happened because even though at first I took very seriously what he said to me about me, the foundation for these accusations turned out to be factually untrue, and I feared that he was wrong meant I was required to be angry at him which is something I could not actually feel, so what I felt like is the inability to feel angry is also how I felt while the rest of you were feeling.
And yet if I felt the front of my hair, it was soft and straight and longer than it had been for years. When I touched this part of my hair the texture reminded me of everything else that was untangled and there was a real buoyancy I also felt as I read these feelings of others and in general lately, almost like parts of my body had become a raft floating on the other parts of my body which were like water, and a lot of this buoyancy seemed to just come directly from other people, like they were what was floating and therefore, I was, too.
I was buoyant feeling because the poem of copying pasting and nine questions had brought me into conversation and maybe even friendship with Jennifer Cooke and Francesca Lisette. I had learned quite by accident that Jennifer Cooke and I had felt the same feeling at the same stimuli, without ever meeting and being far apart from each other, and I felt so interested by this. It was talking with her about trusting this visceral response to provide accurate social information that had set off the second volume of the investigation, with urgency, too, to find out something more about spectral quasi-locationless hapticity and visceral revolt in particular after feeling the weight of the categories my friend had dropped on me which had led me to question the accuracy of my perceptual relation to the social world.
I felt buoyant, too, because Dana Ward and Josef Kaplan and Nat Otting and I were having the now-immortal-texting party while I was at the 24hour Fitness in the old mall working on posterior chain hypertrophy and this man was walking around in front of me as we texted in a tshirt which said “MOB CREW” as if even garments know what’s relevant. I felt this buoyancy because some strangers, too, had been writing poems way better than the I wrote to start all this, all of them pointing to the exhaustion of hypermasculinist rhetoric and its uselessness for either poetry or politics or anti-politics or anti-poetry, and all these people employing cunning formal strategies, feeling things, too.
I felt like my chest was pretty expanded and expanding with air in a proud way because I began to suspect I’d stolen the poetry-troll crown from Josef, and I love to talk shit at my friends, but then my chest felt sort of caved in with short breaths because in Poem #4 the poet expressed a sadness for this person “Anne Boyer.” I felt sad for “Anne Boyer,” too. Though I did not know precisely what had been said of Anne Boyer, I suspect it was an attack made in part on Anne Boyer’s “feminine” ways because of Poem #4 and its poet’s clear mastery of that visceral response which obtains accurate social information even across distance and having never met. That is, I believed as that poet was sad, if I had read what was written about me, I would be made sad, too.
I also maybe felt like this was an attack on the “feminine” because Dana had said the person had written something about “bourgeouis” [though neither of us can spell it, because, you know, it’s me and Dana who are feral and rustics in the bad sense wearing our poor people teeth in public having only mostly eaten the saltines and offbrand hotdogs the hand of capital threw at us until we learned to eat stars, I mean pdfs and listservices, and also the yearning in public libraries poor I mean poor in education I mean poor in books too or even knowing too spelling wrong and unpropertied and exilic as shit and then thrust into this deliriously imploding wonderfort called minor literature by which we earned the smallest access to the ballroom killingfields of the money cities sparkling sick as fuck] which in hypermasculinist slang is just they way they spell “bitches” when they can’t write “bitches” anymore.
There was this difficult feeling in my stomach either because I forget to eat because I am taking this medicine which makes me feel sated and edgy and/or because I should have given my poem a different title. At the time I made the title I liked the idea of posing the two categories in the form of a question, but then I worried that people might think I was conflating the two categories with the conference itself, this conference which produced provocative and valuable documents like the ones Marianne Morris, and Joshua Clover, and Francesca Lisette and others wrote. So when Poem #6 came in I was certain I had erred in this decision because there was the difficult feeling in my stomach. Poem #6 also gave me the difficult feeling that my friend who potentially tangled the back left side of my hair was right about me, that I couldn’t feel for other people in any kind of accurate way, and I was very sad
Then, whatever, I’m Anne Boyer, and aren’t we all so over the atomized hobby of any one person required to feel bad all alone? And anyway, who would surrender her happiness to any man who arrives to wield at her the terrible foreclosing categories of a world which cannot work? Then, whatever, I’m Anne Boyer, and I am sitting on one of my pink sofas where I have seen the most affectionate minds of my generation waking up in the morning a little childlike after staying up late and talking a lot, and I am Anne Boyer, to my great regret, and with my utmost apologies, and full of this love the insisting-aggressively-of-sentiment-and-class-war and I am Anne Boyer, unfortunately, with an intense and slightly repulsive capacity to perform actions, in the Arendtian “What is Freedom?” sense, animated by principle and headed straight to the completely-abyss-like abyss which maybe should be marked with a warning sign about extremely negative capability.
Besides, I was feeling lucky because a couple days ago, when I tried to text Dana how scared I felt when accused of projection, “scary” just kept autocorrecting to “art” and “art” and “art.”
Then when I read Dana’s poem my face tingled in the manner it usually does when I drink some wine. I wonder if your face tingled at Dana Ward’s poem, too? (and if so, please write to anne boyer at gmail dot com about it). And while none of you should think Dana and I are romantic or anything just because we have genders and my face is lively with feeling, I had to take a bath to calm my body down.
The water felt warm.
I spent a lot of time in the bath, completely naked as people are in baths but not washing my hair or washing out the tangle, the water a little pink from the blood as if my sex is always partly a shark which bites me once a month and then disappears leaving only that, the light in the bathroom that really aggressive light that Juliana Spahr had told me something like I could be sued for mental distress over. That aggressive light was flooding over my interesting, competent, and experienced body, the one which appears female and maternal and prole as hell and which I did not choose, and so there in the slightly bloody water just feeling and feeling, I also begin to have thoughts
and, as I wrote a few years ago, when I was born, “these are such sad things.”
I thought about my friends and thought about strangers and thought everyone who is not a man and thought about my daughter and Dana’s daughter and the daughter of my friend who leveled terrifying categories at me and thought about how I might have to mention the word “daughter” in this poem, this poem about what belongs where to the best end.
I thought about the mom of that guy who wrote that thing.
And how I might introduce the word “mom” in this poem about what and who goes where, this poem also now I guess about who gets to believe her feelings and about the poetry of the courageous viscera that brings us to each other and to solidarity and revolt.
I thought as I often do about how wretched are the fucks and thought about how maybe all of us over here made a project so vibratory and relevant that even the Poetry Foundation Overlord won’t even know how to monetize it.
I thought about revolution, really, and how we have begun to talk a lot lately about how it is the women and girls who always start it and people animated by the reactionary masculine which ends it, and thought about how interesting to be a poet, really, and thought about how the person who wrote the thing on that website felt and if he really is going to participate in this project like he said he would. He had messaged to me a few times about all manner of hot feeling like how he was burning, how he was catching heat, how things were up in flames, how he felt the heat from the inside, too, and when ever I thought of him, and now whenever I see his name on the internet, I feel a little warmness, a little of what must be like that term, “burning shame.”
Then I thought about the typical things like materiality and action and poetics and actually existing conditions like the ones we are almost touching each other in. And when I have thoughts, I cease to feel my sensations —
My thoughts take a brutal form, and all I can feel, finally, is the weight of them.