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Poet's Sampler: Robert Fitterman

Inside poetry's factional camps, there's a lot of circling of the wagons going on. But outside, in the culture at large, an open horizon works like a magnet. Borders are crisscrossed. Subjectivity works by osmosis. Nothing stays fixed (or forgotten) for long. Everything is ripe for sampling. As Kraftwerk put it: "You can synthesize your existence. We created ourselves synthetically. I suppose you might call it 'ersatz,' but the real meaning of the word synthetic is 'putting together,' which is all we are doing."

Track the cues. Follow the clues—in "debug mode." Rob Fitterman, in the years I've known him, living in New York City, has propelled himself along a line of adventure, from an earlier floating Objectivist precisionism through the circus banners of a chopped-up hurly-burly Americana and then, experimenting with a wider palette of devices and approaches, to a full-face engagement with the palimpsest sociability of city life—in Metropolis 1-15(Sun & Moon, 2000).

The pieces here are destined for another volume of the ongoing Metropolis project: "our story is one of content selection"—whether from Petrarch's Rome or Guiliani's Manhattan. And if they move beyond the anxiously personal—more like contemporary post-conceptual installation art or the copy-&-paste aesthetic of pop music—they also skirt the arbitrary, the formulaic, the auto-pilot button. They valorize themselves not so much by vernacular sampling (which is nothing new, even if it still scandalizes the clerisy) as by the rich and risky attentiveness of their prosodic choices. Relation is it.

—Bruce Andrews


(from Metropolis 30: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

1. Prime of Life


                       Sunrise Media Kit Mountain

Cleopatra Cruise Ship Center            memory burners

newcities committed to the bright path

      cafeteria approach,

protein folding, SupraLife, capital preservation

                                               gains EZAccess laserhaus

we have become the leader of the purification reagents

                            with state of the art robotic platforms

deeply discounted woodshed services

                                              wanting thorny bushes—

our favorite motivational speaker—with her blood

                                              :gone to the well

2. A Splendid Body


                        Speed stack,            thin's

                   virtual cheercard, coil

                                       corsets, pumped adornment

trappers, replacers, mineral

ннннннннннннннннннннннннннннннннннннннн                                       toddy, total toddy, the great

                            splenic vessels, sectional

                                     liquid latex basket, Ultra Toddy

              spiritual microfiltration

thalamus nomads,       bright oxy

                                  tamale filling: some call it

                                   a magazine, a catalogue, we call it

a magalog! guggulbolic

             performance drink, core error:

                                            so you're replacing me

3. Good Health


Lose years (grapeseed oil horror stories

it's a go hot worry

determining cost pillar associated with job headaches

reverse policy discounts (cosmetic & scenery

(island insert)) getaway for your happy mind

in the next act, everything you do

has a purpose (cheap suit itch

these people seem happy enough

let's try the other test

4. Health Restored


Well come creamy, light gas pockets

                  you're trekking across a vast swamp teaming   

with gritty stuff followed by stingy stuff—lat pulldown

restored foreskins

Fast forward to the first of the year…

         debug mode, belly off farming subluxated cortisol

is not a friend, smoking dope restored my sight

I know a small HMO that welcomes HIV

           It's a paradise in danger, you're naked on the trial

It's a shakedown,

                            I'm a massive success story

5. Strength


I love your pain management system

myodynamic okie grips label syntax

caber turner payroll (star) garden invisible

practical knife throwing multi-everything

data model caught in someone else's body

Behold… the former things willl not be

remembered Olde Time Physical Culture

a shake-hands-with-your-uncle-Sam

personality indicator. Tone Max. We

capitalize the word TEAM because we love

your product little gypsy penny drop

supermotivating biblical nutrition schedule-

driven spinecare candlles our story is one

of content selection my sheep listen to my voice

6. Running Swiftly


    I needed a cute little fox image, hymnut

                        industry wrap-ups, bingo permit, frosty

olympic hoplit armor a lamb who goes uncomplaining

forth, do you get the feeling some folks think

                      fresh-start manuals means a big snowball

            approval re-engineering riverfront boost?

Raising the dust in the plain super-easily

                home-based triangle banks a big bet is on

                            the people, temporary foghog offices

we can make it happen, how to get paid for watching

                TV, local Hilltoppers in Slovak soft step

                                  either you're a walker or a runner

there's no such animal as a jogger.

7. A Good Mind


This is how discrimination feels

         this world needs to lay off individuals

Unless it turns itself into something which itself

         is not... words fail me: Mark, you ARE the man!

Science of mind mall, mind shop, mind in your area,

         mind does not cover Scotland, trigger supreme

The following success stories reflect a deep ecologist,

         futurist and corporate critic, dreamgiver

Lame-ass anarchy page helping you think your way

         to an excellent life. Emily's problem:

No changeable gods unless there were unchangeable

         return to the Institute Calendar (lunch included)

About this guide, it shatters lives, the mental charity

         Carmen's story: when will stuff arrive?

Originally Published in October/November 2001 issue of Boston Review

Robert Fitterman is the author of nine books of poetry, including Ameresque, Metropolis 1-15, and Metropolis 16-29.

Bruce Andrews is the author of two dozen poetry collections, most recently Lip Service, an epic reworking of Dante's Paradiso.

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