in the beginning i introduce myself.
in the beginning i’m hoarse not fallen.
shame takes positive costume adorned
in glass limbs. in the beginning i hear
language lift the curtain. shift present tense
to back stage. in the beginning we all become
something. no question of heroism. no
imaginary tables to set. outcome comes
real because it’s heartless to only touch
in and promise. like the surprise of a required
dressing room mandate to introduce
myself by identity marker i’m not one.
who makes excuses for any kind of omen. 
or hears tales on front lawn. if you heed me
i will devour “him” supplant any graces with
statutes of matriarchy. her simple contours.
troublesome branches. sing to me
of consort and reparation. in the beginning
non-belonging attempt to wear video
camera enabled skin. gene change anomaly
renal enrapture. live transitional cell hard
to see. non-invasive conversation. i take on
personas. a man who won’t speak. won’t
reflect on what it means to block traffic.
cannon littered with bodies. a building i
don’t notice. in the beginning that sting.

for Anselm Berrigan

this is a manmade pond populated by tadpole
imports to support a need to be visibly
expensive overlook who’s frog-like expansive
we grow up to be we who cling to thread-
bare steel lattice i rely here on memory
instead of imagination because no one believes
desire in sudden necessity of wading on a walk
across tick-laden fields             step gently in
inevitable mud it isn’t insects who betray
me who sing of infancy in statue form
this one example of many landmarks marked
precisely for data a physical birdcage
marmot governing Cropsey even the wayback
machine deems scarlet the robin who approach
i don’t stand outside anymore can’t stand
all flowers in frequent display trope of visible
breathing meme-able yet again the question
of money of exertion of stripling storied historical cell


there’s no reason to smell without
fire ask after steel wool skin fracture
karaoke cds
how many live on landing
strip stairmaster table tennis bloodbath
portrait of more barrels and hay and
outlet malls ambidextrous in bad
timing bridge layer
say things just to be
nasty fiesta ware desire to beat
mannequin games crochet hook
i recuse myself scourge
of dirt island activity theory gadfly
do the adolescent dance pre-
requisite for potential wound empire
accent over my historical self
                        say dissent is easy
in the subjunctive as my character
evolves value accountable talk


sing to me of  parachutes. impose luxury
measures, active farming, ceasefire mural
sourced from quicksand & argument morale

sing to me so i know what’s admissible,
a foundation of wonder instead
of inflammatory markets, where you

are your body of water polluting
& i am lost again born throughout
year of the dragon     sing to me

of accuracy and empathy of health
first attitudinal shifts of systemic intolerance
of exertion of using the entire body

to be discouraged     sing to me of
immune systems unplugged, redact
mown evidence of post-endeavor

malaise brain fog ongoing disaster
sing to me of orthostasis of no shame
in redefining distance code shift

across consensus to the sirens who
sing only of history & i can’t tell them
to listen to disease categorize imaginary

harm as ongoing matter   tickets
bought     ambivalence sleep     sing
to me gadfly bias definitively i depend 


erica kaufman is the author of INSTANT CLASSIC (Roof Books, 2013) and censory impulse (Factory School, 2009). POST CLASSIC is forthcoming (Roof Books). she is also the co-editor of NO GENDER: Reflections on the Life and Work of kari edwards (Venn Diagram, 2009), and of Adrienne Rich: Teaching at CUNY, 1968-1974 (Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, 2014) . Recent prose and critical work can be found in MLA Guide to Teaching Gertrude Stein (eds. L. Esdale and D. Mix, MLA, 2018) and forthcoming inReading Experimental Writing (ed. Georgina Colby). kaufman is the Director of the Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking.