This is me reading "Spoils" from my forthcoming prose poetry collection, "Passenger Flight". This video was done as a submission to Pistol Press's online Kitchen Reading Series. (NB, Oct. 2009: Since its inaugural issue, this series seems to have been relegated to a permanent back burner.) The requirement: That writers send in a videotape of themselves reading from their own work in a kitchen-like setting. Below is the text of the poem. It was first published in Geez, Fall, 2007. (If you have trouble with the above, watch the video here.) An added benefit: you get to see what my kitchen's like!
I sit on my aluminum throne. This spruce and eucalyptus-veneer table was shipped especially from Malaysia. These teak-stained tablemats, Sri Lanka. On that ersatz cherry wood shelf (Bengal), dates from Iran, mandarins from Morocco, gala apples from Chile. This neoprene book in which I draft is from Mexico; the power cord, straight from China. The robe I wear is from Taiwan.
I am the Emperor. As I cross my kitchen (five steps) to lie on my Swedish bed, I hear the murmur of voices around my head. Such gentle hands, the servants that bear me aloft! I have every reason to trust them. But I have my spies, my plants. And now I’m told of whispered connivery: plans to poison, surprise me with a dagger, a well-timed bomb.
Poison, dagger, bomb: they have been planning it night and day, for decades. They meet via satellite, speak to each other through networks in the sky. They wear fezzes, turbans, polyester neckties. They pray to the One True God. I have never seen the One True God, although I have looked everywhere, in my closets, in my drawers, among my genitals, beneath my toenails. I am told my sin is grave. They plan infernos for every single portal of my world.
But: I am the Emperor. I sit on my plastic throne. In this nine- by eleven-foot kitchen, I am surrounded by a collection of clocks. Every day, new clocks come in the mail, direct from Pakistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Venezuela. Invariably they say thirty-two seconds to … is it noon, or midnight? Invariably, I wind them back, synchronize them with the others. Clocks are crucial. Clocks are indispensable. I am the Emperor of Time: I control it from this Indonesian table, this German throne.