Rob Halpern



The inside story of crisis looks nothing like the real

Event whose code-name is Chokehold or Cobalt a kill-box

Being something you can’t really see like a fluctuation

In price point or the value-form itself this is nothing

More than derivative of other situations & questions say

Is it possible to be fascist and not racist but who would ask

Such a stupid question anyway I mean what’s the difference

Between my poem and a free-speech cage at an AntiFa

Action or will the new constituent body ever coincide

With the people’s limbs as my body fails to materialize

Natural wealth now there’s a lame fucking metaphor

Money standing in for tiny hands & diminutive forces

Stringing my cells with dental floss made in Sri Lanka

Sending signals from the earth’s shrinking core to my own

Failing heart across the sea thru copper coils & transistors

Made in Shenzhen and wired to my cochlea so I hear things

Before threading my mouth with black nylon twine the way

Wojnarowicz stitched his lips in that iconic image as if political

Talk were all equal to a dip in Alibaba’s earnings which is just

An alibi for interminable sadness shackled to a concrete floor

On a freezing nite the way my guy died of hypothermia I dream

Of touching his still tender corpse as protests turn violent

From Bogota to Berkeley just hold it up she said & at least

Present the dead


                                                            — body to us.

Rob Halpern lives between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Huron Valley Women’s Prison. His books of poetry include Common Place (2015) and Music for Porn (2012).