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No Art

Tonight I can't remember why
everything is permitted or,
what amounts to the same thing,
forbidden. No art is total, even

theirs, even though it raises
towers or kills from the air,
there's too much piety in despair,
as if the silver leaves behind

the glass were politics
and the wind they move in
and the chance of scattered
storms. Those are still

my ways of making and
I know that I can call on you
until you're real enough
to turn from. Maybe I have fallen

behind, am falling, but
I think of myself as having
people, a small people
in a failed state, and love

more avant-garde than shame
or the easy distances.
All my people are with me now
the way the light is.

Ben Lerner

The Paris Review

Winter 2012

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