Issue 28: Patrick Durgin


It’s the oldest deus

ex machina in showbiz

The doomed wartime romance

It’s the peacetime muse

of embattled realists

but waking life’s the only type when

Living in an arrow factory

Here’s where you discover you

Are being lied to from all sides

Even your own the story

Illustrates the image

The dim frottage of myth

Was thought to demystify

Like slighted deities

Any old edict to restructure

And unmute the right to what

Is real

So dancing is done

Without looking

To save embarrassment

smears the rhythm of things

War is coming

Forget the danger of losing contests

Shore up your convictions

At the very least list them

Slaves can’t have friends

And can’t make promises

Cruelty evades explanation and

So uncertainty taints the property relation

Oh my nourishment is not

As the poster portrays it

Just rectified subroutines of labor

rivals for low cost goods

The careless versatility of sermonic drool

To fill crevasses in a slippery slope

Facts have their adversaries

Until the least hated wisdom wins

Now that war is coming

Things will be exactly as they seem

A love triangle ended in a suicide pact

Revealed as such only once we two

Accomplished grieving announcing

That nothing’s finished these two

Conspired against me against the trio

Betrayal and devotion I must let

Them realize their pact otherwise

I betray them twice this is nothing

To do with natural causes such as love

This is nothing to do with me it’s America

Its sorts of metaphysical computational solace

But this goes badly too the allegory suffers

The suffering is real

The three of us were a network of thieves

We had grieved together

Fondled each other

Puzzled through our disputes

In unlit basements

Grandiose meadows

City crowds

And institutional corridors

We were impassioned thespians

Autonomic splendors

Now who has stolen from whom

Is the question

Will I live last

A caption

Now that I am in confidence

I must let love die as promised

A still untested premise is

as good as wishful thinking

And melancholia always smarts less

when brazen mischief is in play

I blink to veil the witness

Inside everything the outside

To the conspiracy they call personality

Nature cooperates with saints

Nature comes whole

It’s a martyring or a buddy flick

“As far as I am concerned, it’s clear to me that if nature, needing to restore equilibrium, attacked me, at no point while defending myself and fighting for my life, as any animal would do, would my capacity to reason allow me to stop to think that, in all fairness, losing the battle would be the right thing to do.” That’s what Chantal Maillard said.


I know full well but can’t explain

The world is disinterested

in the words I have for it

Language being the fictional objective

Of a real contest

Larry Eigner said, “give a dog a name / he can’t use / masculine perhaps”

I mustn’t interfere

There are solemn and strenuous

Chores I could only botch

I’m glad I was told

Confessions always come after making love

That’s why silence is unbearable, something

Must be said without delay

Now if they survive

We might have never loved

In my love triangle there is just one

But several alter egos

Pinioning dumb dreams to the results of reason

We might not have loved anyone

I don’t need a lexicon

I need data

The data are shared

Nothing is lost

No one has it

No one ever did

My entitlements and among them “love”

Can’t tell now between wind, rain, the fan inside the machine,

Or a sigh from my parched stomach

In the coming war everyone’s a kleptocrat

The question of why is moot the war does not decide

The enemy arrives from all directions

Every moment another below norm terror

Fatal if convincing only

Episodic despairs lend integrity

To unbordered moments of the weather

From here I can pose both

The questions and their tangy posture

the vertigo of perfect hostility

The enumeration of the same


Fondly digitating in the aforementioned

Unlit basement the inevitable

needs no hastening

I cannot help in any way that I should have known

And now I do

Eggish, ovoid, drooping out of sync with the daylight

The night’s bleached scrim knotted for escape

I clutch and climb down hugging and think

I may be choking on the drawstring

But I used to be leashed

Patrick Durgin is the author of PQRS: A Poets Theater Script and a collaboration with Jen Hofer entitled The Route. More recent work appears in Chicago Review, Emergency Index, Poetry, and Tripwire. Durgin translated Miyo Vestrini’s French Unpublished Poems and Facsimile 1958-1960 and edited Hannah Weiner’s Open House. He teaches Art History, Literature, Visual and Critical Studies, and Writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Copyright © 2022 by Patrick Durgin, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.