Author’s note: These sonnets “occur” inside the abandoned NSA Surveillance station on the summit of Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in Berlin, Germany. A manmade mountain, Teufelsberg is the result of the Allies' decision to pile massive quantities of the postwar rubble of Berlin on top of an SS Engineers’ College, designed by Albert Speer, and left unfinished after the war. The poem makes use of diction adapted from Walter Benjamin’s records of his son’s language acquisition between the ages of 2 and 6. The italicized “incident reports” that appear in lieu of a traditional sonnet’s closing couplet point to collisions between light aircraft and common swifts in what would have been Soviet air space.
Be rid of the face in the room now.
Sweet clown, they promise
and do not do it;
they can’t pull it out. Go think
about it; kisses received from
here in the mountain with him gone
are as slurry in a gallon pail,
are a thin suspension ferried southeast
into the town from the summit
in a spirit of devotional commerce
and labour. The material rips from
the frame. Straight pins of stars and the blanked vector lines
July 24, 1981, near Novokuznetsk, midday, little to no damage.
Don’t, you undo the good behavior
all the time. Don’t undo
the good behavior all the time.
Wonderful Ultra, it is not broken,
it is still hanging there.
Big monkey not going more in my mouth—
Not the beach only but the sea behind
it and behind that its hale minions
and the monstrous canyons of chance.
It all begins to swim forward.
I lay with the dead Lord, the anus
constricts, I cover us both with your dress.
Noon, July 28, 1981, approaching Novosibirsk from the south, altitude unknown.
The fairground screamed. The mountains
and valley were gone. The fire was gone
too. The hanging ‘because’
was gone too. The men were away
and my heart already dead
and the fairground monkey dead in my mouth.
With the public laboratory already built,
I went ahead and broke ground on the secret
lavatory. From the moon hung
a chain-flush, its handle grip glazed
bone and the fairground
screams went out over low frequencies
July 29, 1982, at 11:35 descending into Novy Urengoy in wind.
Those who died already, so scared
in the toilet, will have to ask,
What is meat made from?
What is a buried boy made from?
Isn’t the same meat in the toilet the other
dead thought buried in ‘am good.’
No formal consensus could be reached
beyond all resource amassing
in the fantasies of a few
hobbyist watchers of the night’s gridded picture book.
I divest of goods: the Duracell and copper coil,
the hose, gasket, and valve.
Nizhnavartovsk, June, 1982, altitude between 3400 and 3600m. Rain.
Please come here. Please. I played with a dream
in a mirror and many many thousands
which are not real. Are not here.
I don’t like it here anymore. Good
people don’t open doors on the present.
I can’t see how this same trail
descends. Please come at least
half-way and I’ll fall
down into the laws of the present,
into fungal infections and
coital cephalgia which is constant surveillance.
At 10:41, June 7, 1984 during routine descent into Orsk. No wind.
I only dreamt it—people for money—
I don’t want to leave
the old voices. Little babies
for money. Weird fish for money.
The old voices interest us only for
biting. What is an achievement of scale?
To have heard all speech in the nutmeat
on the boar’s breath.
A label card in the file drawer’s
window. Speech is fact, with interest.
the holly is polysynthetic blisters and no signal.
A sine wave of pricks.
Approaching Perm. Altitude unreported. 1985. Tailwinds.
Too strangely the birds jerk their scales.
The one who sits in the office
dreamt of birds a lot,
living for butterflies, and for pricks
a lot, too. If only today
were really quite small. Still, the pricks
need their snack. Between Identity and Supremacy
occurs a negative surplus of affect. You
either erase me now or I’ll enlarge it.
Look what they make you give.
A pointless radar of care for the slug ascending.
A reader’s migraine with your head thrown back.
June 13, 1985, at 10:01, in cloud above Rubtsovsk. Unconfirmed.
Do lightweight people have a head?
Put eyes on the neck
and these questions peel
along a garden of hair. You, morning,
love a stranger. Not everyone can be
the same, but you love a stranger
and opened your mouth to him
under the beech, the elm, under the oak
trading human and arborial
fungi. The excess space junk making
a complete Horlicks of morning’s screaming
party. Cycling bandits over the treeline.
09:25 (local time), June 18, 1986 at 3800m, Rostov on Don.
Photoshop drawings by Jonathan Ullyot.