One of the marks of Jasper's work, besides that it's smart, lyrically gorgeous, iconoclastic, as satirizing as it is reverent--that often as not it's politically explicit--is a major turn-on.
I was thinking of the word statute, skating along the chain of associations—stasis, The State, metastasis, that girl Stacy, ecstacy—it gives rise to. The law: born and maintained and remade in violence. Beautiful as the statue is, the fucking thing won’t move, and as such represents my frustration that I can’t bring it out of the dream and into the clearer airs of general being. Like a Giacometti, it steps forward perpetually without getting anywhere, a burn victim, a Bernes victim. I’m its shepherd, but I’m not doing such a good job, it appears. We are beautiful; we are brilliant; we are deeply incapable.Note that first-person plural, the courage to speak among others. We. It moves me that he thinks in those terms. Recently he sent me an astonishing, intoxicating sequence of poems (he called it a "prose piece" but what the hell) saturated with genre bending, Warhol, Los Angeles, Berryman, sex, drugs, first-person plural, Godot, and everything else he could get his hands on, which is sweet and fitting, since the damned thing is about money, and what isn't?
He looks like an exclamation point. He looks like looks like. Henry Halfman, his mind a mint that would ballast and bulwark the sagging markets, poem it, write value into the blank, aggregating zeroes of the approaching end.
Well, money is its trope, anyway. Really, it's about assigning value, and love, big hard questions for words, for poetry. As in: I am so thrilled by this work I can't say how much. Or: I love Jasper Berne's poems. --How many 0's is that?
Observe, if you will, the marvel of the human kidney, more like the mind than the brain is, more like a poem than the vandalized dictionaries of our proto-anti-hero—including, excluding, absorbing, exuding—his million spongiform mechanisms disbursing the toxins it is our fate to catalogue: gin and revenge; nicotine, carbon monoxide, mercury and time; attaching the fathers to their flywheels, effacing the coins. Henry’s kidneys were failing faster than his other organs—he could feel them kick and twist up their mouths, saying—and, late in March, after a brief stay in the Jewish Hospital, Henry became gripped by the delusion that he was a kidney, our kidney, the kidney. He fell to his knees and thought, as he often must, of his kids.
was sick and Henry was sick and one of them would die first, martyr. He started practicing with the LA Times, seeking out the hate crimes, the cruel kabbalistic rhymes, buried in the last pages. He hugged the homeless, hoping to take on their fleas, their psoriasis and rotten teeth. He wandered through Los Angeles Watts, still unrebuilt, collecting firearms and bags of marijuana and bottles of fortified wine. He pissed on the Porsches in the driveways of the rich. He put ads all over , hoping to reenact a Hollywood on the runways of LAX. Before my mother gave birth to me, I passed through Henry, his pain a watermark flashing within me, that I would seek him out, my father, my further and further. They took me home and wrapped me in a patchwork quilt and smoked a joint and put on Bob Dylan, and the big factory of the ocean rumbled and rummaged around for something it had lost. Henry was learning to swim. He was running back and forth across the Santa Monica Freeway stopping accidents. Cambodia
From Jasper Bernes' Promissory Notes