Image: Rue S, 2021

8 Poems from ‘Insomnia’

Editors’ Note: Readers may take an interest in the particular manner these poems were composed. The poet says: “The formal process of the poem is perhaps more straightforward than it initially appears. I open a random book to a random page, select either a word or sequence of words, then move onto a new source. Rinse, wash, repeat. While writing it, I was fascinated with how multiple voices and, frankly, some almost Confessional sequences arose from such a seemingly mechanical and sterile process.”


The heathen had no constant belief 
or confession;▫▫this was not 
due to political hypocrisy, 
but to bourgeois vanity.▫▫This isn’t at all 
strange in New York, [ ] 

            I must ask you▫▫Jonathan, have you forgotten
America’s character? [ ]
                        It is a wretched thing to confess.

                                 The first lesson
                          a revolutionary must learn
                              is that he is a doomed man.

                                                            ▫One should be wary
                                         of solidarity,▫▫that tedious and worrisome project,
                                                and▫▫run for office.


                                                Nothing to laugh about!
                                                Be consistently inconsistent!
                                                Nothing stands firm.

The Beasts-head finally thrust itself out from the mass, [ ] 

            [depraved in mind and heart.]


Dissolver of Flesh 

       who overcomes        the reason 

                                   the right of citizens 



            Establishing        the rising rhythm▫▫of immolation to the will of▫▫the rentier economy

            Shattering            those who answer innocently 

is the tyrant’s way 

Justice comes knocking
daily at his door▫▫but
            nobody gets a penny

            a big grin 
            his upturned lip

                        sure destruction. 

                                                                                    This historical epoch was devastating. 



at once becomes hazy again     
with blood——             



(This will help you remember.) 

By night▫▫alarms were ringing.
            We were warned

by the sound of the beating of the air

                        for the crash——drunk
                            with reality.

For a while nothing happens. 

Broken ground. 

Destitute of all sense,
a self-defeating &
catastrophic enterprise. 

This is written in the same hand. 

Imperialists will never lay down 
their butcher knives.


Muscular▫▫Death▫▫writhing about 
▫as an act of flattery,▫▫trumped

            all other▫▫meaning, making machines——stark
            white▫▫completely legal▫▫already fascist——that changed



                                                        conquest & exploitation,▫▫cheering at every shot. 

                                    Space & Time were dragged away;
                                    they dragged after them light. 


                         in quest of the truth
We end up▫▫frothing at the mouth,▫▫smothered
            beneath the monstrous discourse▫▫of
                     the imperialists and capitalists:

“you must accept Them and not complain.” 


                         if another war broke out 
We▫▫could let them have their way——
           with excellent profit,▫▫with
                  no noise at all;



don’t flinch.

You need to study  
         guerilla warfare. 
Get every book you can find  
         on guerilla warfare. 
Discuss Marxist theory.

Let us go on— 
         [ ]Chicago, 
         [ ] Detroit,
         [ ] Philadelphia,  
         [ ] Cleveland, 
         [ ] Pittsburgh,  
         [ ] San Francisco, 
         [ ] Minneapolis,
         [ ] Denver, & 
         [ ] Boston. 

We’re very close.


Shudder and quake,▫▫Prophetic▫▫Young Writer! 

Society is deteriorating;             it has become overrun  
                                                                        with immorality,
                                                                                 with lengthwise gashes.

                                                                                                            (It may be profitable
               that it is not as pure as the preceding▫▫system).  
                                                                                    One will see, in any case:  

         merely a satyr play,  
         merely an epilogue farce 
                  ——droning gnats and mosquitoes.

The three at the extreme-Right appear  
somewhat indifferent to what is happening,  

and are reminiscent in their poses—standing  
with legs crossed and embracing one another 

—of sculptural groups from antiquity: the Three Graces,  
or the San Ildefonso group          of Orestes and Pylades.

                  Alongside these appears a further devil,  

         viewed from the back, who  
with his own billhook 
         again forces down
the soul of the resurfacing
                           wisp of moon. 



Our three travellers however had a great mind to join themselves▫▫in nights of insomnia, so as not to lose all reason. I struggled to flesh out various outlines of my past life, to imagine how it went on,▫▫to remember ‘blood-red-blood’.▫▫(Go into the details.)▫▫I hope to be able to at a future period: to concentrate whatever powers I may possess on the construction of some tribute to those high speculative endowments and comprehensive sympathies which I ever loved to contemplate; but at present—though somewhat ashamed at my own weakness—I find the object yet is too near to me to permit of any very accurate delineation.▫▫Considered in this light some of the poem’s notorious oddities clarify themselves; for example: the unnamed,▫▫their relation with▫▫the worldaltered since the war, and the consequences of this alteration.▫▫Let me refer to the whole▫▫which these disjointed fragments present:▫▫I saw before me an object standing upon a hill. I could not clearly make out its head, but already I was aware that it was of no ordinary shape, without nevertheless being able to distinguish—precisely—the exact proportion of its contours. I dared not draw near,▫▫became enamoured of solitude,▫▫composed this verse. 

All this has been and is. 

There was beauty. 

I give it to you.


Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon 
Cousin Bette, Honoré de Balzac
Letter to His Parents, Federico García Lorca
The Queen of Spades, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin
Saul, André Gide
Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver
Letter to Richard Woodhouse: 27 October 1818, John Keats
Revolutionary Suicide, Huey Newton 
Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard
Life of Michelangelo Buonarotti, Giorgio Vasari
The Storm before the Storm, Mike Duncan 
The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, Edward Hallett Carr
Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
Poetics, Aristotle
Treatise on Law, Thomas Aquinas
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
God and the State, Mikhail Bakunin

Theogony, Hesiod
The Constitution of the United States of America
A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore
A Little Book on Form, Robert Hass 
The Philosophy of Atheism, Emma Goldman 
Revolutionary Iran, Michael Axworthy
Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
De Profundis, Oscar Wilde
Peer Gynt, Henrik Ibsen 
Jo-Eb’s Quest, Raymond Schmidt 
Valperga, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The Jewish War, Josephus 
The Half has Never been Told, Edward E. Baptist
Le Morte d’Arthur, Thomas Malory
Growth of the Soil, Knut Hamsun

Imperialism, J.A. Hobson
The Accumulation of Capital, Rosa Luxembourg
A Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Anarchism is Not Enough, Laura Riding
The Content of the Form, Hayden White
Guitar Player Repair Guide, Dan Erlewine
Guerilla Warfare, Ernesto Che Guevara
The Autobiography of Mother Jones, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones
Grasmere Journals: 30 April 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth Homage
to Catalonia, George Orwell
Anarchism is Not Enough, Laura Riding
Normal People, Sally Rooney
On War, Karl von Clausewitz
A Defence of the People of England, John Milton
Socialism for a Skeptical Age, Ralph Miliband
A Monster’s Notes, Laurie Sheck
Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle, Mao Zedong

Greece and the Reinvention of Politics, Alain Badiou
The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System, Henryk Grossman
Suffering, Alphonse Daudet  
Life of Gaius Marius, Plutarch
Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine
Conversation between Tishani Doshi and Timothy Green, 17 June 21 via Skype, Rattle: Fall ‘21
Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Philip K. Dick
Equality & Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire 1905-‘17, Rochelle G. Ruthchild
Fascism as a Mass Movement, Arthur Rosenberg  
Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America & Produced Trump, Spencer Ackerman
Bomb the Suburbs, William Upksi Wimsatt
Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll
Empire, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant
The Crisis in Physics, Christopher Cauldwell

Reform Our Study, Mao Zedong
Suite Vénitienne, Sophie Calle
D.V., Diana Vreeland
A Lover’s Discourse, Roland Barthes
Speech: 07 November 1919, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius
The Vampire Economy: Doing Business under Fascism, Günter Reimann
Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life, Carlo D’este
Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, V.N. Vološinov
D.V., Diana Vreeland
March to the Montería, B. Traven
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway 
The Prince (chapter 6), Niccolò Machiavelli

Maxim 312, François de La Rochefoucauld
I Love Dick, Chris Kraus
Letter to Thomas Morgan: 1911, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones
Speech: 15 February 1966 “There is a Worldwide Revolution”, Malcolm X
My Life, My Art, Diego Rivera
Laughter, Henri Bergson

Strike!, Jeremy Brecher
The Beauty and Life of Materiality, Jodi Hauptman
Romantic Literary Families, Scott Krawczyk
Workshop of Empire: Stegner, Engle & American Creative Writing during the Cold War, Eric Bennett
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X & Alex Haley
Encyclopedic Dictionary of Production and Production Control (1964), Prentice-Hall Editorial Staff
The Method of Marianne Moore, R.P. Blackmur
Birds of North America, Robbins, Bruun, Zin, & Singer
The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, Max Weber
Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche
We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates 
William Blake: Catalogue of the Drawings, Sebastian Schütze
Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, Jeremiah Moss
The Friend, Sigrid Nunez

A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe
The Hieroglyphs of COVID-19; or Lockdown, Hubert Haddad
Speculum of the Other Woman, Luce Irigaray
Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, Peter Krapotkin
Letter to Henry Hallam: 14 February 1834, Alfred Tennyson 
Dirt and Desire: Essay on the Phenomenology of Female Pollution in Antiquity, Anne Carson
The School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas, Lesley Gill
No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, Jane F. McAlevey
Business as Usual: The Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism, Paul Mattick
Biographia Literaria, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Giaour, Advertisement, George Gordon Byron
Maldoror, Comte de Lautrémont
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft 
The Tosa Diary, Ki no Tsurayuki
An Address to the People on the Death of Princess Charlotte, Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allan Poe
 Letter to Paul Demeny: 28 August 1871, Arthur Rimbaud ~


Strange Matters is a cooperative magazine of new and unconventional thinking in economics, politics, and culture.