| Poetry


Joe Pan

Shangri La La La Lollipop


O Williamsburg! Burg of adventure & bowling! Of vendors too stoned/whatever
to serve! O industrial hamlet of innocuous dissonance, the hipster elite, mid-sized
ruffian mutts & caravans of street meat! A comet of tongues stream-videos along
your corridors, a la YouTube, ob la di, unrepentant & querulous, negating each
negation to greet the recently un-subterraneaned rendered newly blind &
confounded in Spring daylight & sunglasses & cleverly incorporated pixilated
bowties, mismatched flanueresque attire & saffron burqas de- & re-politicized,
beards & hairdos quaffed just so, arranged & ornamented in the style of Helmut
Newton via Richard Kern, the young voices sharing a sycophantic phonics passed
laterally & literally, upended & transformed like estuarial wavelets in rippling
synthesis of the new, traffic & catcalls strike the bricked walls wheat-pasted &
papered by Swoon, tagged by Neckface, advertised by Fairey, a plump purple oystereyed
anime Os Gêmeos girl, paint like blood vessels rushing to surface alongside
newborns with implausible jewelry through which the unadulterated glow of
grandstanding dreams & vacant accounts parlay, oft sectarian, the intractable charm
of a quartet of Hasidim in furry shtreimels & a Polish grandmother sweeping butts
from a doorstep in this rarified air chrysalis under a bench-pressed sky the groaning
riverside condos reflect as tragic, but no, not the few brownstones, elegant as lips,
stalwart as seahorses, their moustaches jutting toward Bedford Ave where awaits, well,
me, & isn’t this every wish realized?, or the one where I’m pummeled again with bassstriped
pantaloons by every canker-tongued Republican left in the city, where I want
not, meek & picante, piquant as the piscine, & finally isn’t every forfeit a forgetme-
never? Every storefront window pregnant with a ghosted Us from another time
when we believed in words like immemorial? Isn’t it time the mother with the neck tattoo
of Betty Boop riding a Ferris wheel while fellating a donkey strolling & lullabying her
yawning adorable up to McCarren Park for the ninja vs zombie touch-football game
hosted by Brooklyn Brewery or possibly Fluff McFluffster whispered her sweet nonsense
like incense updrafted into this, my evaporating ear? What is the Present but another
shockudrama requiring its own theme park, befitting as it is befuddled, O Williamsburg?,
a navel for curbside jokesters with mouths like radiators who posit the bicurious relationships
of superheroes & the Dow’s ecstatic pogo play with now unwatchable 401(k)s, whiling away,
while busker banjos mimic field mice in their impersonations of a faint rain’s campaign to lick
each blade of grass & provoke in each its own soft tremble, & isn’t every beaded moment its own
atoll of desire? Isn’t every camera lens, trained now on an ice cream truck, the next homunculus
to proclaim itself the humble primitive & universal voice? Isn’t every Wednesday a space opera?


Joe Pan’s debut collection of poetry, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named Best First Book of the Year by Coldfront Magazine. His poem “Ode to the MQ-9 Reaper,” a piece about drones, recently made the front page of The New York Times. He grew up along the Space Coast of Florida, attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, & serves as the poetry editor for the arts magazine Hyperallergic. Recent poetry has appeared in such journals as Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Epiphany, & H_ngm_n, his fiction in Glimmer Train & Cimarron Review, & his nonfiction in The New York Times. Joe is the founder & publisher of Brooklyn Arts Press, an independent house that publishes poetry, fiction, & art monographs.

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