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Tag: Ed Pavlic

June 19, 2015, I Remember Driving Through South Carolina,Twice,to Pick Up My Daughter on June 18, 2015


By evening I-85 south was a glossy tongue

and the churning clouds over

Greenville swallowed the sunset,

a collision of archetypal pain

and the lightning of the unknowable

facts, the near future. Suci’s fourteen and terrified

of weather, I think, because she thinks

it means what happens outside happens

inside, too. Or, vice versa. Weather

in a house can low-pressure and go lower

and people don’t really know how

low until it’s your own lightning

and facts and no one in the house can breathe;

people squall each other, unknowable,

and tornado the plaster walls away;

she’s watched some of that weather

happen and so it’s probably

my fault that she’s as scared as she is of the sky.


6 AM I drive alone through a sunrise-storm,

headed north near Anderson, a fog of tiny

twisters steams from the pavement and I aim

the car through NPR news of another racist

murder, this time worse, a massacre, really,

and the search for the shooter. My stupid shock.

I can’t believe I believe I can’t believe this.

I can’t believe I left a little brown girl, my daughter,

not two days ago, on the other side of South

Carolina, without a thought—a common-enough

thought in our family—of the day which is

every day when the room which is every room

becomes the room on the NPR morning

news and the stupidity of my shock lists itself

in all the eyes staring at all the shoes

and all the hands hanging at all the sides, the listless

-ness of people arriving too late, again.

The steam comes off this Southern road

like a fever and I finger my iPhone until McCoy

Tyner fingers the trilling behind Trane

and Garrison’s thumb threatens to blow out

the bass cones and, as much as it steams

like “Alabama,” I aim the car at the sound, “After the Rain.”


Sunčana clutches her pillow and distracts us

both tracing Justin Timberlake’s career

backward across the low ceiling of clouds.

The deluge begins, again, the sky opens

as it promised it would. The semis flash hazards

and everything everywhere crawls slower

and closer. ’N Sync scrolls across the Bluetooth

readout, Suci sings along and I think about

my friend Jeff ’s neighbor, Terry, a Harlem barber

gentrified off Lenox Avenue and now living

with his wife and kids in the Bronx. One night

last summer Terry told me how he loves

to visit his family in South Carolina. Yeah? Yeah,

it’s not like up here, man, down there, say

we go out to eat, I sit in the restaurant with my gun

on my hip. I look around me, another man,

even a police, and I think, ok, you’ve got yours

and I’ve got mine. Now I can’t see what I’m aiming

this car at, I can’t see four inches,

all the eighteen wheelers have dissolved,

red sponges blink and stream

up the windshield. I’ve got my daughter back

with me in this mad fact near the future,

where she should be, and now here we are at least

for a little while. I mean, yes, we’re scared

but we’re alright. Unarmed in this minute, this life.

And I see Terry nod his chin up, and smile,

his thick arm extended, palm up, onto

the table, showing his tattoo:

a precision clippers, an edger, cord coiled around his arm.

You know, he says, down there in South

Carolina, it’s in the open, it’s they got there’s I got mine. And I feel free.

from Let it Be BrokeFind more by Ed Pavlic at the library

Copyright © 2020 Ed Pavlic
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Achronological, a Chronology

We said Octavia Butler wrote

sci-fi, it was the correct

answer on the test but we knew

it was a lie. Many of us, we kindred,

by then, had held twin-toned

hands and crossed up ankles across

centuries. Had played a game

called “Worldlessness,” in Southern cities

like Chicago where, under a bridge

for a freeway designed to separate

the continents, one stood and listened

to a river overhead wider than

the ocean. Just like that like crushed metal

in the sound of slant rain

and we were the sound of the impossible

crossing that happens like midnight

in your mind. This morning,

23 July 2015, a front page story in the

New York Times details the

carbon date of goatskin leaves

upon which may be the oldest

extant portion of the Quran. Several

experts attest to the plausible

range of dates: 568 to 684. Other

experts agree with caveat:

the range specifies the age

of the parchment not the ochre

print on the page. Also on

page one begins coverage of Sandra Bland’s

arrest and subsequent death

in her cell in Texas. In my morning print

edition, the one which can’t be

un-published after the fact, after the jump,

to page A14, about her arrest

near the Prairie View A&M campus,

the article reports the incident

“occurred only a few hundred years

from the university’s main

entrance.” I checked online but

now it says “a few hundred yards from”

the entrance. On the test we’ll say

the error was corrected. At the same time,

when we kindred, that’s to say the living,

turn the page, and certainly when

driving, say, from Chicago to Texas, or hell,

from Texas to Chicago, and most

absolutely when told we’re out of our lane,

we’ll be careful, as ever, to verify the century we’re in.

from Let it Be BrokeFind more by Ed Pavlic at the library

Copyright © 2020 Ed Pavlic
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Subtitles: Love as Social Refraction. “I See You.” Or, Evidence that Rihanna Has Been Reading Her Baldwin

“All of us know, whether or not we are able to admit it, that mirrors

can only lie, that death by drowning is all that awaits one there. It is for

this reason that love is so desperately sought and so cunningly avoided.”

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 1963

“In our church, the Devil had many faces, all of them one’s own. He was

not always evil, rarely was he frightening—he was more often subtle,

charming, cunning, and warm. . . In short, the Devil was that mirror

which could never be smashed.” James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work


“After all, the first thing you learn in this country if you’re black is a

form of silence. . . nobody saw Malcolm coming nobody saw Medgar

coming nobody saw Martin coming. These people who live in their

mirror don’t see what’s coming.” James Baldwin, April 24, 1986

“I needed you to please give my reflection a break from the face it’s

seeing now. Oh darling would you mind giving my reflection a break

from the pain it’s feeling now?” Rihanna, “Consideration” (featuring

SZA), 2016

from Let it Be BrokeFind more by Ed Pavlic at the library

Copyright © 2020 Ed Pavlic
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Boomerang and Yo-Yo and Our Denial—Which Might Be More a Refusal—of the Inevitable Criminality of Consciousness

If we pretend criminality is a paradigm of connections

unsanctioned by institutional power

and therefore unimaginable by law-abiding people

in their function as citizens, and so if I say that

I think we could think

about the trans-national in a way matched

as precisely as possible to how we feel

about being trans-sexual, or any contemporary

form of consciousness being

trans-racial, you could call it, or me,

overwrought but I wouldn’t call it

that, I mean, overwrought in the sense

of that moment when nothing means anything

and anything turns its mask inside-out

to reveal something just beyond the limit

of vivid and particular, I mean,

something of soft-loam and sunset

that signals something else just below

the horizon of itself, I mean, like

the schoolteacher in Marrakesh saying

to Roland Barthes “‘I’ll do anything

you like,’ eyes full of kindness and complicity,”

and Barthes explains that by this

the schoolteacher meant to say “‘I will

fuck you, and nothing else,’” I mean,

so the particular means invisible

to vision when vision means what

one does with one’s fingers

when they can’t be seen by anyone

as if operating, anyone, I mean,

behind a heavy velvet cloak, a drape,

anyone being the edge of fringe

that sweeps the floor of everyone

exactly and precisely in that

unmarked and insensate moment,

at times also called overwrought,

when anything means one thing and nothing else

and “acting as if ” means “don’t fuck with me”

unless you’ll admit complicity, I mean,

will accept responsibility for the way I let

the bad guy win every once in a while,

I mean for injuries, past and future,

even ones from the place I was born

before I was born, I mean

wounds I inflict upon myself and those I love.

And though I feel very uneasy,

not simply to say conscious—or for our present

purposes criminal—in saying this, no less

to you, I should say that I’m saying this while standing

in the long shadows of things I thought

were injuries until I realized shadows

themselves, very often, are the injuries and the things—

many of which aren’t things at all but people

acting as if—the people themselves had made my life

what it is by saving my life from the illusion,

I mean, if illusion means soft-loam and sunset

signals below the horizon, I mean made life alive by saving

my life from the illusion that it was mine,

I mean, the illusion that it was made, lawfully, of shadows it cast by itself.

from Let it Be BrokeFind more by Ed Pavlic at the library

Copyright © 2020 Ed Pavlic
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

“With Grief  With Fury  With Action”

when we lose track of the person  not to be

confused with that democratic fetish

“the individual”  when we lose track of that particle

that permeable pool of plasma

the person  and take human reality

to be a solid matter (most often

male) of people’s (often enough clotted

into mobs  often enough mobs of so-

called “democratic action”) . . . Jesus

Christ let’s just call it conscious intention

lashed to the cleated post of mute

inheritance  we need to be very careful

in that situation  when persons are

pushed (ultimately at gunpoint)

to feel that they have nothing to

lose and that can feel (though most often

it tingles numbly) like freedom

but it’s not  freedom is never that

we must be ve-ry careful  more

careful than anyone can actually be

because it’s dangerous when it feels

like anything’s possible

but nothing can happen  very

dangerous when it feels

like anything can be put immediately

on display but somehow

nothing can be revealed  to live

in a world (so-called) where

everything’s within reach but nothing

can be touched  click  maybe

it’s a terrible truth (quite possibly

a truth of parenthood) that for any one

thing to be known (or touched)

everything else must be complexly

felt  as if thru an infinitely

sensate dilation  pure aperture  maybe

that is the open and awestruck light of love

and it’s very simply never ever

simply just that  which is the spark of art

iculate speech  an S-curve pulls parabolas

thru a syncro-mesh gearbox  a sudden break

in low clouds off the coast

and into a remorselessly gray sea

of eyes pours a silver sheen  a glistening pool of pain

from Let it Be BrokeFind more by Ed Pavlic at the library

Copyright © 2020 Ed Pavlic
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.