Simone White's House Envy of All the World

Here are several poems from Simone White's House Envy of All the World, (I love that title!) recently out from Factory School's Heretical Texts, February 2010.

Simone takes apart place, race, desire, relation, gender, the public and private as they intersect with history and the individual.

it is probably a crime to stand on the corner
just after dawn in a red sweatshirt
in Bedford-Stuyvesant

it is probably a crime
to say

what if song
is poison to me? (from "Nigger Rig" 27-28)


Here's what Small Press Distribution has to say about Simone's book:

Is all black desire corrupt? If American aspiration is linked to the desire to have whiteness, be male and make money, what, now, can a decent person want? Family, death, power, Poetry and blackness--each is implicated in a general failure of perfection and subjected to furious lyric rethinking in Simone White's work; a poetry of ideas where "the whole limbic system [becomes] an event," "decorous" and profane, precise and bewildered.

Check it out. You can buy House Envy at SPD here.

If you will be in Philly on Saturday,April 10th, you can hear Simone read with Allison Cobb, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Kate Schapira and CA Conrad & Frank Sherlock at 8pm at the University of the Arts, Terra Hall Broad & Walnut, 7th Floor,Connelly Auditorium.

If therefore ye be loath to dishearten utterly and discontent, not the mercenary crew of false pretenders to learning, but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were born to study, and love learning for itself, not for lucre or any other end but the service of God and truth, and perhaps the lasting fame and perpetuity of praise which God and men have consented shall be the reward of those whose published labors advance the good of mankind; then know that, so far as to distrust the judgment and honesty of one who hath but a common repute in learning, and never yet offended, as not to count him fit to print his mind without a tutor and examiner, lest he should drop a schism or something of corruption, is the greatest displeasure and indignity to a free and knowing spirit that can be put upon him.---John Milton, Areopagitica

Drop a Schism

Every two seconds, a paparazzo
punches Bernard Madoff in the chest;
and yet he advances. I like his nice spectacles;
I like his white hair and blue hat.

Each disgraced bourgeois in blue
whose belly drags the bottom,
scratched bloody,
beat up by photographers,

all his money taken away,
whose children hold his hand at the perp walk,
Rachel Maddow smirking,
I love a little,

though I want to be reading an old biography of Lincoln,
eating barbecue chips.

Athletic fat bourgeois
grown stinking rich, I want you to know I know
it is the liberty of which we are afraid
gone crazy in your head.

We want to be reading an old biography of Lincoln,
eating barbecue chips. Inexplicably,
we would kick a baby to be near you
or give our baby to your hedge fund

to invest, educate or employ.
Our swelling knees upbraid the center lie,
O blessed avarice
of egg blue final December.

Someone said: "My life had its significance
and its only deep significance because it was part of a Problem;
...the central problem of the greatest of the world's democracies
and so the Problem of the future world." (1)

"Perhaps his needs turned out to be exceptional,
but his existence was exceptional.
Between 1850 and 1900
nearly everyone's existence was exceptional." (2)

After this, who will venture
withdrawal or meditation? Habibi,
take your rest on the downswung
arch globe of my century, for you will never eat

another hot dog. Your mother will not cook it
nor the president of Harvard College
lead the change we have internalized,

My life had its significance,
notably grim
refutations of crossing the Bronx
some winter afternoon in massive storm,

vague pain in the backside.
Take the wheel, then. Drive us to Connecticut.
I cannot take you through it
slow or fast. The icy liberty

of which we are afraid
percussed interpret curtain
rune glaze'drift

I do not know how I can live
with all these baffled dead
flapping and hooting in the thoroughfare
when some little girl on the longboard makes me cry.

I've got fifty dollars,
which is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sometimes I want to be a suspect,
then think better of it,
like a woman in Whistler's mind
thinking of Whistler seeing her seeing him--

I make a ghastly caryatid
for all this clicking power.
Things drop down on me while I'm sleeping:
iTunes receipts and promises

to do it in the morning.
I do not know how I can live
with just my 'kimbo'd arm to shield me
from the something of corruption in my midst.

(1) W.E.B. DuBois, "Apology," Dusk of Dawn
(2) Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams


...at my end was nothing, no one between me and the black room of the world. ---Jamaica Kincaid

Black Room

I hate an unpacified black room,
and next to that, the imbecile who meets them in the night--
dark things alive in dark places.

Un illuminated core of the world
where dark things whole as smoke
whispered down to nothing in the wind of evil

go weighted down by the killed
void and intention joined in the eye,
black cats rudely crouching in dark corners (33).


Brick in a Bag

he would say that bastard so-and-so
i HATE bilked me out of a million dollars

that was being alive more alive
than oatpaste
offered me as life
repeatedly he forgot who he was talking to

and took back everything
(i should act a little stupid

improve my prospects)
offense not rising

to the level of conspiracy extortion or fraud crucial action of the
inside game
was always moving its nature fleeting

and American
beginning always in a park in Philadelphia

a people without history
walks his tiny daughter

into the Pines and Chestnuts
purporting to straighten the town

since the eighteenth century
what was he even doing there?

i said he had no HISTORY
the identities and roles of his confederates

their places of operation as yet unknown
blank space would grow behind my skin

it tightened around me
WHITE called a brick in a bag (53).

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