The following is an excerpt from a longer, unpublished text called Men’s Fashions. Philip Sorenson teaches writing and literature in Chicago. His first book, Of Embodies, was published by Rescue Press. His recent work has appeared in Ohio Edit, Pelt, Spolia, and Swine. He co-edits The Journal Petra (thejournalpetra.com).
Men is the slithering you feel when you think. He holds you tight in the mirror. Right now in the hot city night, men is moving. Men is with you in your phone. He is the fog pouring over your counterpane. Men is dressed in tight black leather. Men has no face. Men is riding his police horse. He is high above the crowd, looking down, ready for abuse. Can you see the streetlights shimmering in his boots? Do you hear the crop? When he becomes nothing but tongue, he has emerged from the eel-like hole of his beautiful vengeance. Men is knowing. Men shoots beanbags into the crowd. What a metaphor men makes!
Here are some of your crimes: You teach. You are a teacher. Have you read your evaluations? They are incriminating. You are cruel. What is “ethos”? Your body is a prop. Your voice is coming from someplace else. You identify and correct pronoun-antecedent agreement errors. You are a “function within a function.” Your genitals are terrifying. They terrify. Where is the physical part of your crime? It is neurochemical. What does your crime smell like? When you were young, were you bullied? I was bullied. I also bullied. When you feel cornered, do you explode with rage? I feel rage. You are so full of shit. I am so full of shit. The only solution is to escape into the bee-thick dusk of the Caucasian transcendental. Your imagination is repulsive.
More beheading videos. Anyway, fuck it all, you’ll think: This is terrible. You will be making dinner. What kind of dinner do you eat? Something specific, and as you know, he scoffs at particularity and sobs over his crimes. Any crimes. Every crime. There are no crimes. Men’s justice transcends the shadow of law. Can you see him in this new & exciting movie? Standing there under endless purple mountains, he saws some wood. The colonel approaches. Men has no choice. Men must use the word: barbarian. The fish is moving in his mouth now. The world is going to become men now.
From the second floor, you look down into the street. There is a shark. The shark is covered in garbage, and its tail is moving. The shark is also a letter. It is a T. But it is really the head of Saint Denis, and the letters have fallen from men’s body: portents for portents, livers. Men is filming the shark with his phone. Mediation is one component of this alchemical/political process. The street scene is the finale. Men is partially made of the movie. Or, rather, my grandmother worked in a funeral home, and I lived with her for two summers. You can try to watch from here, or you can go join them and experience profit. I always needed to escape, from my family or from school into a suspension. From above, it feels enzymatic. But perhaps men’s performance with the writhing letter is just that. If so, this must be the other one, the mouth.
Gasoline is almost clear: “It is ever still the light of life.” We grow our garden of penetrative correlatives. The sun’s face is our guard, glaring through the branches as through our prison bars. Men mounts the cloud and shivers. The world-tomb erupts. Dragged through the wellbore the bodies are renewed. When I was thirteen I went to a dealership with my dad to buy a minivan. It was the holidays. You’ve seen these same ads. Imagine yourself in the machine. Imagine thrusting into the woods. This is a nature poem. The moment the poem descends into incoherence (e.g. nature is transcendent; nature is a metaphor), the poet will become mysterious. A nightingale is also a skeleton key. You will be a wealthy man. You will buy a machine for your wife. The machine will race along a mountain road.
men is the text
or rather he sends his commodities a message
and men just sees men
he stares into my face which is his face
and he wonders why men doesn’t try harder
men is so sad wishing he would do better but soon men will be very angry again as he always is in a cloud accreting the word caught in a tower above the clouds & ocean
the inexpressible falls away into the scaly night dressed like you know what:
big white men forever as long as the worm as the mountain-erotic
When men disappears into the woods, the voices become discordant. Witches wriggle out of every stitch. Bitter appropriations leak from his body: “Disco Sucks! Disco Sucks!” The military regalia could not have been an accident.
Men mingles with the living product. When men climbs into the crevice, he discovers a large metallic horse. The horse is full of holes. He looks into one of the holes and sees a body. This is true. Men sees a ring on the body’s finger. He steals the ring. This is true. Men values the insides of things: Hell is savings. When the stone is turned from him, you sit in his lap. When he turns it around, he is a currency.
It is at the side of the swimming pool. It is in the swimming pool. First it is a spider. Then it is a pig. Then it is a mouth. Then it is a cave full of issue. Then you are sitting at the dinner table. He says that the Asian ones are prettier, but the airlines would get “a whole mess of lawyers on their ass here in the U.S.” He is wearing a white polo shirt and khakis.
Do not believe. Resist believing. Kill yourself after eating only air for years: 10,000. Silence! I am a collaborator. There is no escape. I am your warden. If you speak, you are he. You must correct these kinds of errors for your students: the subject complement. Perhaps showing how the subject functions is a form of resistance? No. It is a form of oppression. You are speaking through the granite. You are wearing a tie, safe now at the bottom of a mountain. Reddening the globe. I’m sure you had no choice. Conclusions are conclusions. Yes.
Read the rest of the Feminism Series here.