Side A Poetry: “Sousveillance, or: The Springfield Sarah Jessica Parker Disaster” by Ben Tripp

Sousveillance, or: The Springfield Sarah Jessica Parker Disaster

when money became speech

Dyads parafin the duration

non-machinable

flesh mic at jowl

non-camouflage couldn’t alter

or predict

cephalopod                       high-arousal

unheroic teller city with lake interior

The false antique

no and subject theory

I have failed the task of radiation

cryptographic

An air freshener with the word Capricorn printed on it

Plowing the smirk

Airlifting missionaries across watersheds

The colors not gone between winds

Handprints along the inner walls

Am one endorphin milestone and

Don’t praise the machine

What to Expect

the debris field

A crumpled spent paper napkin’s

Blank        opening

                 under artificial light

Indoors, where no sun shows up ever

                         for a while not alone

Downstairs allegory

The media still in my head

Like a perfect marble rolling

Until      finding escape or

Some consequence, maybe bad air

Modest diplomacy, functional

immunity-withholding as a point of pride

Towering outpost on the corner, where

Borough-thick, sandblasted old

                constructions moderate

Plants alive, curtains tastefully down

                                  & knotted

sun-kissed

It’s more of a glancing kindness

       in crisis, ultra hip

No soft pill

taken while in the bunker

a permanent holiday

If you are an identical

twin you already know

the wind is shining, the sun blows

it’s a new public artifice

a sort of 98 synopsis

Cancel & Gretel

like tungsten

exclusionary

post-mortem

without legends

Dirty                    spatula

          bell pepper        gasoline can

                           flush what comes

              from your body

Monotony

                           itchy scrap iron

the dream will replace the memory

but almost without fail each

witness described the same

triangular object with three circular lights

something very unusual was happening in the skies over Belgium

Medieval, French

good how many had

                          in odd years during

the material human

            fire

            love ignorant

I have with me

a file clerk for ideas

the smell of burnt hair and vineyards

horizon empty and colorless

              lantern

    every                           pulse

in the raw-

-sort- of just

The camera dies at the end

Surprising, herr-prising

                      lib damen

as erecting a nativity

scene on state property

proscenium gettys in the spiral

               of junk-time

of the

               re-presented

not                               so much as

                no present

or                              constant thereof

News

spoken in sleep                        feels like violet

Thank you for that disturbing report.

mechanical heartland pap

         —in name only

shampoo bottle holy rhythm

like hanging nazars, or eyes

up in the yellow blue minarets

stalking lookouts tall story the bulbs are hot

with vitrification on the laser-cut side

the plurality of worlds

so below as above

words hostage from my pleasure

                      continuous for planetary advance

to be                about often

                  sour           tongue

       fractal non-linear

                                         sound waves

      seeding clouds

put into words    :     no light all day

        a tri-figure, or becoming

nothing carbonated

scapegoating THC, same

                      Bloviate.

evenly                   chamber sinema

that’s it already beyond

            which I am not

to be people

empty praise has angles, kismet

cheap-spirited I’ve been without

knowing, better than nothing not

and

true are the nightmares of a person that fears

torn        petals              facing the sun

for you shall grow and reap

only too high in the burning glare

get out your bricks

         cat

         cat

and fortune

faith must not be

for this                   your redeemer

                    not

The air is changed.

Thought is feeling.

The smell of bankrupt coffee grounds

                off damp filters

duty apothegms

I am against pencil and paper

“self-same tune of words”

there might not be anymore anymore

Tenderness only always

robs it of its power

I am for nothing in it

media crush “I is not allowed”

being dragged away for holding up a

        blank sheet of paper

Mini-interview with Ben Tripp

HFR: Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?

BT: I started taking the literal—“autobiographical” element out of my writing as much as possible … which, I would argue, is actually never really entirely possible, but it is worth the effort. It’s not possible for a musician either … or an actor … to not have one’s real life influencing what we call the work in this context at least to some degree. If it is, then why don’t we just have robots do it all? And I am not asking that question as facetiously as you might presume. Maybe a robot Renaissance would be great, and we could all just chill and be happier, more peaceful and dignified as humans: happy audience members, and the robots would be well-occupied. At any rate I chose the … let’s call it, ‘experimental’ path early on, and it led me straight to poetry, always has, much more so than to other forms of writing, or even making music. Which is not to say that my poems are written by a computer program, or like pop songs either (hah!) I also don’t write every day, too robotic for me personally. Working as a teacher sometimes has also shaped my writing, if and when while at work occasionally I can steal time to write.

HFR: What are you reading?

BT: Thief of Hearts by Maxwell Owen Clark, Dog Day Economy by Ted Rees, Palm-Lined with Potience by Basie Allen, Hollywood Babylon II by Kenneth Anger, and Samuel Beckett’s Collected Poems in English & French.

HFR: Can you tell us what prompted “Sousveillance, or: The Springfield Sarah Jessica Parker Disaster”?

BT: It’s in the same crypto-diaristic style as is the bulk of the manuscript which I’ve had in-progress for two years now, but it’s a satellite on its own, post-dated. I’m essentially collecting words and phrases that intrigue me and the way they coalesce together is often incidental. One phrase today follows one from three days ago, and surprising coherences begin to take shape. It’s a spontaneous progression. Sometimes the jumps from one line and/or stanza to the next are startling, other times they make a lot more sense than I ever could have planned for. The title is supposed to wave hello to the audience in a way to prepare them for the opacity and lack of proper nouns after the title. I’m not going to start writing fan fiction, the title is a red herring … the whole thing is an exercise prompted by a need for exercise.

HFR: What’s next? What are you working on?

BT: I feel I should be reading more than writing for the time being, not reading aloud my own work, I mean, but generally silently reading the work of others, old and new … while I am also still working on my own full-length poetry manuscript. That work now is not so much writing but tweaking and just floating it out into the world in whatever way gradually feels natural. I want to keep performing/presenting material from that stuff too in live settings and/or to cultivate more new stuff, probably a little of both.

HFR: Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?

BT: I feel there’s overwhelming superficiality in poetry which I, maybe naively, never expected, and a lot of preaching to the choir/preaching to the already-converted that goes on, which maybe I did expect. A friend who doesn’t write anymore said to me recently they feel that blurbs are a crime against meaning. I feel like there’s little-to-no quality sometimes amidst so much quantity, but that’s across the larger spectrum beyond poetry or ‘writing’. And there’s fake politics cropping up everywhere too. How do I define that term? It’s a kind of politics in isolation, or let’s say, an anti-social politics, that has nothing to do with real kinds of political work like striking, boycotts, voting, union or party organizing … I would blame certain recent technologies, but that would make me a hypocrite. For various reasons I often rely on these same technologies like most everyone else. The amount of attention one can draw to oneself somehow replaces any ethical or aesthetic imperative. A narcissistic lifestyle, posting a selfie/video of everything you do & are, as if to fulfill some kind of digital manifest-destiny. Quote: “When language becomes petrified in the academies, ravaged and made barren by journalism, its true spirit takes refuge amongst children and mad poets.” —says not A.Artaud, but an artist from the same time period, different country, to say not all writing is pigshit, but a lot of it is.

Ben Tripp is a writer and performer from Vermont based in Queens, NYC. His writing can be found via Brooklyn RailBOMBHyperallergicGuernicaFull-Stop Quarterly, and Gauss PDF. He was a finalist for the National Poetry Series in 2021 and received a City Artists’ Corps grant that same year. He blogs and archives work at benjamintripp.wordpress.com.

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