Clarence Thomas Coke Can

The meeting place of two distinct crises, the place where two roads meet, the meat of the matter, the cross, where the divergent forces of the structure come together and combine, is always, as they say, the place where tragedy arises, the source of our need for repetition, for all a road implies is repetition, that someone else has gone this way before, that many people have over days or years all beaten down this course into a path in a very needy way in any case for long enough someone has perhaps “improved” the road so that armies of soldiers and goods might cleanly traverse the distances between the built up crossroads we call cities. The family of origin is middle class suburbia and that is a major commonality in all of their M.O.’s, these figureheads we look to when we have become allergic to depth, when we need to cover over a gaping and possibly irreparable gap in the idea that governs us, a gesture that reinforces the fracture it claims to heal, like a peculiar architecture designed only to crash into the ground interestingly, a suite of destruction constructed by unstructured design if without full knowledge of what the mind is conflating as it flies, the idle distraction of a powerful man entranced by the thing he personally desires when just over the ridge of his perspective: a goal beyond possible imagining, a potential buoying up out of the collective sea that bursts a carbonated bubble near the bent-in aluminum tongue, crackling with effervescence in as old containment is eliminated. A trail leading directly to a river, leading directly to an ocean, through the woods and shelves of bamboo, at the edge a final flight of dunes, and then, with military precision, into the briny water open armed as eroded copper lines shine green through the cliffs leaking a greenness across the sand in the dull ceramic glaze of an element making a break for metallic life. Ox eyes looking inward at the plow, the darker earth emerging as the field turf breaks away, the wave pressures particularized in the bodies of the team of beasts, the energy in transit through the play of transformation, this simple act of linkage giving birth to all the nations, to the language and the words we use stretching beyond the limits of our lean native geographies. The exchange of words was born from the exchange not just of goods but of course of people, of women kidnapped forced to adjust to the ways of a suddenly different world, find common groups of sounds that could be understood, used to convey the basic necessities of personhood that even then were evident and palpable as now. These words, in all likelihood, were terrified at first, ejaculations and protestations of fear, words screamed against the violation that was the necessary part of this procedure from the captor’s perspective, whatever need was motivating this drive for “cultural expansion.” How did this change or is every language marked by these exchanges, bred out of these conquests into this ocean of significance we are flung into, our bodies just beyond the limitations of the tongue somehow the tongue part of the body all the body’s flaws in all the breaks and gaps that come from speech. And in all the lore of ancient Canada before it had that name before it had any recorded name we nonetheless hear of migrations in the stories that are passed down, of different groups of people marked out as monstrous and while it remains unclear exactly who these people were, what migration this was, this prophecy of horrible things to come hits history’s vital vein. All we have left is memories upon which to base our judgements, along with writing, and we know these memories are not only completely fallible but also subject to the dictates of individual belief, like words, to the strength of each particular person to generalize out of his or her experience into an universal law and this ability is broken across all minds, across all groups of genes, across all individuals who remain members of a class, and this is something that has its element in the empirical universe and yet we act as though a pure concept of law can not only be reached but embodied in a panel of the righteous. Haunting reflections about the unborn and the dying while the living go on monitored: stasis-not-transition, as if states had not their own ridiculous waste, as though memory and language were separate categories of experience as open and porous to infection by the will as any other area of life, we can covet a better past and eventually come to believe we lived it, because we said so, just as a neighbor’s wife can come to covet us.


Stu Watson is a poet, musician, and teacher living in Brooklyn. He is a founder and editor of Prelude, a journal of poetry and criticism. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at PANK, The Collapsar, Queen Mob's Teahouse, Flag + Void, Jacket 2, White Wall Review, and in the Brooklyn Poets Anthology. He is a PhD candidate in English Literature at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. For more information visit