elective affinities anthology of contemporary u.s. poetry


Frank Sherlock

Frank Sherlock is the recipient of the 2009 CAC Sexiest Poem Award. He is the author of Over Here (Factory School) and a collaboration with Brett Evans entitled Ready-to-Eat Individual (Lavender Ink). Other publications include Daybook of Perversities & Main Events (Cy Gist Press), Wounds in an Imaginary Nature Show (Night Flag Books) andSpring Diet of Flowers at Night (Mooncalf Press). He is a co-founder of PACE (Poet Activist Community Extension) and a native Philadelphian.You can visit him online at FrankSherlock.blogspot.comor with his friends at PhillySound.blogspot.com

from PACE as Poetics:

PACE as poetics is a function of poet-activist community extension. It began thousands of years ago. It begins again and again as poets engage in guerrilla street actions, sharing with strangers in public space. These acts are “guerrilla” simply because these encounters have become unconventional methods of poetic exchange. Practitioners operate outside of the larger structures of universities, reading series, and publishing houses that function as museums of poetry. If it is to be seen as resistance today, the enemy is Mediated Life, the alienation assurance company that has flooded the culture with fraudulent policies that promise smiles through spending.

The poem's potential as a lo-fi economic production is what makes it an attractive form for generative community extension. While McKenzie Wark warns that “art finds itself recruited into the prototyping of fascinating consumables”, it's true that poetry is the least commodifiable of art forms. A certain American talk-poet believes this is so because poetry is like gay marriage... no one knows what it really is. That's fine. The culturally fatigued could use a little sorcery.

The old social order operates in secret locations and tyrannical states with almost no press (Press? What press?) since the days of '99. There are opportunities to communicate between Miami Models and Minneapolis Eights in creative ways, with human interactions that remain free of commercial interruption. There are poems, discussions, and drifts of random encounters that exist as a co-created experience.


Anselm Berrigan, Gina Myers, Bill Lavender, Carol Mirakove, Tonya Foster, Kaia Sand, Dave Brinks, Jules Boykoff, Brenda Iijima, Brett Evans.

Poem by Frank Sherlock

Spring Diet of Flowers at Night

One day I gave a monkey an orange, and what did he do

with it? He ate it. I was surprised, I expected him to play

with it, smell or squeeze it, thank me for it… I don’t know,

somehow I was disappointed…My monkey took the

orange, and in a moment of perfect intelligence, ate it..

- Etel Adnan

There should be infinite

meaning in

the blandness of a shot

victim in an unfamiliar

neighborhood but

prospects of imagined life

are tied to clean logic

Diagetic background

music has been used to

steer me into attempting

an architectural line

Local economy is

studied in the drain

as I shave services

over the sink The

iPod leavings are voice

instructions for getting

lost in a city

designed as a grid

tasting cherry

blossoms pulled from

trees in an effort

to internalize

A citizen w/ no

obvious attractions

suffers extreme

discontinuity between

this & promise


The blasé fatality

clocker is settled in

by the birthing machine

The raids have been

enacted & the yelping

won’t stop

Baby farming seems

so gentle on surface but

whether chickened

or egged they’ll turn into

criminals soon

The racket continues

& someone has been

mean to the dogs

blackened eyes blackened

mouth white face

Look at me when I’m looking

for you please

It is so embarrassing

to be a poet & not

knowing what to say

This hot mess is

nourishing poison

the mystery of

deep fried broccoli

The noises in the sky

are no longer

registered although

they are welcomed

provisions the sound

covering for fits

& starts of circulation

While it’s true

the only failure is

no love it should be

noted that we are

doomed in it

futile & courageous

& destined to die

I want to I have

I refuse to

The city has been

severed in two in

a way of course

a wall

cannot separate

The proper names

are prefaced &

repeated until the street

becomes close w/

strangers enshrined &

fetishized I

condemn it but it

is kind of hot

whoring in this

world of calamities

just waiting to happen

A smile face pressed

in a bowl of mousaka

gives comfort once

skirting aspirations

of informativity The

flashes chart

a hallucinatory battle

between monsters

run down by helicopters

& the monsters

that pilot them

It is difficult to

provide anything

more than skeleton

for the peace

though this skin

is seeded w/ nerve

endings flinching

at the prospect

of touch

The infrastructure

within the production

process has allowed

for the neighbors

to assail themselves

then go to the police

I want them to find me

but I’m wearing a hood

in the sketches I

consume they are

part of the meal

Stand still as to

entice pigeons &

squirrels into

the imagined

transparent interior

in the meantime

Someone has done

violence to dogwood

& chopped down

trees to see greenspace

The suspicious package

attacked by little

animals turns out not

to be bioterror after all

but a bag of

paneer pakora

The night is stained

a magic pink the trees

it’s true smell

terrible I light

a cigarette to cut

the stench Wait a

minute I don’t smoke

Who sold me these

refreshing murderers

I ask as I light

this cigarette

Do you remember

goldenrod summers &

feeding corn

Me either but I’ve

heard about them

in song It is

the chance in earphones

that keeps me

attentive & confused

by this survival sickness

from not chewing

systems properly &

swallowing notions whole

Subsumed by the tissue

of glowing hues

the halos of others

begin to declare

themselves while

the attentions are


I insist that you


The insurgency

& the force of

occupation are

being murdered

inside my undershirt

Both sides are

swearing eventual


blood petal blood

spit blood diamond

blood kiss

Spy wednesday

reveals that

judas turns out

to be a good

traitor Can

these betrayals

save the future

as well

We have all been born

of crime but can we let

the babies live regardless

It has been night

for some time now

This is not an

observation leveraged

as blame but a wish

to be shared in the dark

Gravity is of little

concern when firing

into the sky except when

stealing blossoms

from remaining trees

The bulbs taste

almost like raisins

Flowers are eaten

as agents

of inner beauty

Agreed that everything

has an economy

but we will be

damned if this love

is a co-produced

service relationship

Crunch the numbers

I grip your fingers

for tenderness that

downfall messing

on sense that is

junk food &

staving off death

Sugar the berries

since there isn’t

a promise This

beginning remains

uncertain until

beginning is over


Frank said...

- photo by Heather Raquel Phillips

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