The Death of Truth
The world is a horrible place. —Think Big, Donald Trump
But my own value fluctuates, falling up and downwith the markets and with attitudes and with feelings,even my own feelings, but I try. Studies have shownhow I try. The sheer force of numbers. The ceilingshakes with it, which only goes to show—all the scienceis on my side. If I want more, I put an order in. I singthe body mac and cheese, deep-fried: Tom Jefferson'spersonal recipe. But we improved it, like the Taj Mahal.Eighth wonder of the world. Dot my i's in diamondsand that's what I am. Handsomest Cobb salad of them all.Ty Cobb himself told me so. Roseanne is my witness.A very nice letter. I haven't opened it. A good callwith no obstruction whatsoever. Legs like a gymnastfrom here to Venus. Should put the best possible spin on it.If it's organized, it isn't crime anymore, it's business.Gather round now, real estate. Come and make a planetreal again. Bible says Ananias sold a spot of propertyto make a cash gift to the apostles, which was unfortunate.Not a good idea. They didn't have it in their mentalityto deal with the art of it. The whole idea of personalownership made Paul nervous. Guy just wasn't ready.Don't get me wrong: this isn't me. Ananias set a smallportion aside for himself, for family. Nothing you or Iwouldn't do. When he handed his gift to Paul, Paulwasn't too happy. He asked where the rest was and whyAnanias let the devil take up residence in his heart.The devil rents. That's what I'm hearing. He said to lieabout this is to lie not to him, but to the Holy Spirit,and boom! Ananias bit it. Dropped dead on the carpet orprobably dirt floor at this point. If it's me, I like carpet,but that's just me. Did I say Paul? It was Peter. Peter,Paul. Same difference. Either way, they dragged the guy'swife in next and put her to the test. Didn't do any better.Also dead, also on the floor. The moral of the story is:Don't give anything away. Only acquire. Lie constantly tolie better, live longer. Charge the devil through the noseto pitch tent in your heart. What you can't get, disvalueloudly in public. Not worth anything, like safety pins.No thank you. Only losers need those, losers like that bluecartoon do-nothing donkey. A tail like that and no one'staking you seriously. Hold yourself like artwork till you'regolden. Art lies all the time, and look: nothing happens.
Copyright © 2019 by Timothy Donnelly
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Timothy Donnelly is the author of The Problem of the Many (Wave Books, 2019), The Cloud Corporation (Wave Books, 2010), which won the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove, 2003). He is a recipient of The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award as well as fellowships from the New York State Writers Institute and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Director of Poetry in the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his family.
"Impressive in its precise articulation and range of insights. . . . From gut flora to galaxies, these poems offer glimpses 'that waver like air above lit candles,' restoring meaning to the world in the process."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
If The Cloud Corporation is, as John Ashbery called it, “the poetry of the future, here, today,” then Timothy Donnelly’s third collection, The Problem of the Many, is the poetry of the future yet further pressed to the end of history. In astonishingly textured poems powerful and adroit in their negotiation of a seeming totality of human experience, Donnelly confronts—from a contemporary vantage—the clutter (and devastation) that civilization has left us with, enlisting agents as far flung as Prometheus, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Jonah, NyQuil, and Alexander the Great.