the poetry that matters

David Matthews

David Matthews is an American Ex-Pat living and working in Prague, The Czech Republic. His work has previously appeared on UnlikelyStories.org.




(and i had resolved against anymore ‘I’ poetry:
 it's all just so self-involved and self-indulgent) for
had tried so hard to intellectualize
even suspecting that
lacked the emotional depth and complexity
that others find interesting and involving, but
also recognized
that on the cosmic scale,
the array between Clever and Profound,
that is,
the only paradigm worth consideration --
IMVHO - the
again, if you see what i mean --
why waste our time on the Negative end of that array,
the mirrored apotheosis from Stupid to the Merely Dull?
unless our intent,
by which is meant what-would-be My Intent: What that
would intend:
to make public my inability to suffer fools gladly,
to flaunt my own somewhere between Clever and Profound superiority
which, back when
still had the arrogance to aspire to intellectuality
back when
still believed in the Intellectuality of Humans   
instead of the fricative tension between Conformity and Contrarianism
                                -- OMIGOD - i hear a voice -

You're not going on again
about that Hive Theory,


will stop there . . .
recognized that
like Icarus,
soaring toward Profundity more likely would lead
to a splashdown in Stupidity
so, let us, by which is meant Me, who is
concentrate on What is True, then
at that deeper level,
that emotional level,
that non-verbal level,
that pre-intellectual level,
where the Passions that are the Master of Reason, and
what should we, by which is meant Me, who is
declare to be the Paradigm of Passions?
is it Hate to Love, with Indifference in the middle, or
is it Apathy to Sympathy, with Antipathy in the middle?
in the same way, d’y’ see,
that i have layed Intellectuality
can we ignore the emotional negativity?
assert – and it seems sorta obvious to me now
that it’s the latter proposition -
and that we, by which is meant Me, who is
again -
may ignore Apathy


< nobody cares about Apathy, anyway >


in favor of unPatterned Not-Apathy . . .


there is known
within the concept of the ambiguity of English
that some words and phrases apparently opposite
are apposite instead
“I could care less” and
“I couldn’t care less” –
both are used to convey
an ultimate degree of Apathy –
so here is the difference
the point I’m trying to make:
“I couldn’t care less”
 is the more ostensibly correct
since it points back into the emotional array
from the outer limit of indifference
despite the oxymoronic feel of the apparent double-negative
while, OTOH,
“I could care less”
has the idiomatic incongruency that conveys with a little humor
nested within irony,
the impossibility, not of the
pathos available,
but rather, of the
that we, when we use such a construction, assert
 exists out of the normal paradigm --
outside the Known Universe --
beyond Apathy


just back to the hive theory,
we are defined by our differences,
not our indifferences,
by those differences we share
with those others we call family & friends
that re-enforce our sense of Us and Them
with selfish geniality
we snub, discriminate, even persecute
those who disagree
so how do we come by these pre-judgements
by which we decide with whom we agree
and with whom we do not
and how do we know we are right?
we meet our agree-ers at home,
at school, at church, at work, at play,
in saloons, in salons,
where they tell us we are right
because we agree with them.
it becomes a binary choice:
        what we say is Right and the rest is Wrong;
        what we say is Smart and the rest that is Dumb;
        what we say is Beauty and the rest that is Ugly;
        what we say is Comedy and the rest that is just silly;
        what we say is Tragedy and the rest that is just melodrama.
we have these senses beyond the basic 5
and more
all the more potent for their ephemereality
which seems so concrete to our clan:
the senses of Morality, Common Knowledge, Fashion, Humour, Decorum . . .
these senses rule the passions – this is clear:
look at Love –
what has been done in the Name of Love that defies Rationality?
or rather,
what has NOT been done in the Name of Love?


then substitute Patriotism
or any other –ism . . .

so, now, We, by whom, of course, i mean
can make the leap and assert

(after extended introspection)

that all Passion is Love or not-Love
        apart from Apathy

(which no one cares about)

that We, by whom, I do mean We
        come by those passions from the Senses
        not only of the physical world,
        but also of our social, mental, and philosophical worlds
        apart from the sensations we ignore

(those to which we are deaf or blind
 if you see what i mean)

that our agree-ers confirm those passions
        which gives us confidence that we are right
        which is what passes for intelligence . . .


a baker’s dozen years ago
i lived in a Texas Golf Resort
amed for Thoreau’s Most Famous Book

(apparently, the developer’s wife
had once read it)

there, amongst the sordid brick mcmansions
we built our own little cottage in the woods,

(not for $23, but for 7800% more)

my wife samplered quotes from Walden
into her sewing machine computer
and stitched slip covers

(she called them Thoreau Pillows)

we ignored the Know-Nothings and Huns
of Mungummery County as best we could
even as even smaller, more pretentious
tract homes sprung up around us
desecrating the Primal East Texas Forest
flora & fauna

(in the end,
the incongruency was too excruciating:
it is impossible to imagine a life worth living
when every vision is a betrayal
of the raison d’etre
if you see how i mean . . . )


so eight years ago
we moved to the Valley of the Sun
Phoenix, Arizona
for a new job

(The Golfer’s Paradise, 237 courses in
500 square miles, populated by
4 million people,
in the middle of a desert)

everyone seemed to have money,
an suv
a large house with a pool
and an amiable surliness towards
native americans

(all in a haze
induced by breathing
pollution from 2 million cars &
perpetual dust from construction sites &
year-round-pollenization of non-native plants &
 too much freon-refrigerated air
and re-hydrating in the arid clime
 with tequila instead of water)


so three years ago,
when my job was off-shored to Prague
i came with it . . .

(latched onto my job like a lemora to a shark)

it is hard for me to say, exactly,
what is unique anymore to my situation
and what is endemic to the whole culture
but the end result
not only to myself, but to others,
seems kafka-esque:
is it just because we are in Prague
or is it a worldwide malaise?

(if you see how I mean)


but how should we understand
it is not an exact synonym for
it is not an exact synonym for dystopia
it surely is part of . . .

how did you come to kafka?
Was it on some syllabus
did it come from a friend
how did you leave it with kafka
or come-to-an-end

. . . at least
i always tho’t of it that way
for that was the way of the syllabi
and the orthodoxy of my peers
but when we all
added catch-22 to our vocabulary
the balance of the universe was thrown akilter –

(erase a sign on the board

 with the heel of a hand

adjust the constant

by an extra significand)

kafka could be amusing --
this thing about a man turning into a cockroach

(“it’s too good
snarls Leo
as he casts the script aside”)

and the adventures of K.

I feel like K.

(don’t we all?)

I feel like K
seated on my sacrificial rock
while the importunate knife
passes from hand-to-hand above me
pending the impatient moment of reconciliation

(like a dog, like a dog)

in my isaacian torpor of perplexity & non-comprehension
what flashes before my eyes
are not moments of my own insignificant & uneventful life
but rather
the egregious incongruities
that surround us all

the delta between the ideal & the real
which has metastaticized --
into something not different but not the same -
unintended consequences


There’s these two sherfs in Arizona
who for illegal immigrants had a boner                                                                                    (titter)
one was a cocksucking fascist from the KKK                                                                            (gasp)
the other was just gay --                                                                                                 (guffaw)
a nepotistic crook – so which is phonier?                                                                            applause)


the more i see our situation chronic
the more i see: kafka was a comic

When the housing bubble burst back in ‘08
no one could see what was our fate
so we sent millions
to the squid-like minions
of Moloch.

(Moloch! Moloch! Moloch!

now is praise

instead of a knock)


They called it, then


to those who complained

that They could not explain, when

all that money filled Their own rice bowls

instead of that of the lumpenproles . . .


its all 1s & 0s, anyway

beyond our understanding

and Theirs, too, as it turns out

but They give Themselves bonii

to retain the very same fuck-wits


that caused the problems

with Their derivatives

and the derivatives of derivatives

and the derivatives of derivatives of derivatives


and noone will ever be prosecuted for these events

we don’t even know if they are crimes


since noone not even Themselves understands

what they did

much less any regulator

who actually it will turn out

used to work for the same firm




the more i see all that needs remedyin'
the more i see: kafka was a comedian


if you be walkin' down new york town
and your face be colored black or brown
best be ready for examination
some serious ad hoc interrorgation

(hrumpf, groan)

stop-and-frisk, stop-and-frisk
since 9/11 can't take the risk


somehow They’ve decided

it’s all one thing

terrorism, murder, burglary, drugs,

protesting, trespassing, jay-walking


stop-and-frisk, stop-and-frisk

your freedoms now gotta asterisk                 




the more these things take their toll

the more i see: kafka was so droll







these wars, these wars

(wars are more orwellian

than kafka-esque

if you see how I mean


but stay with me . . .)

Obama got his Nobel for not being Bush

and yet the wars continue

and Gitmo is still open and flush


i just don’t know, anymore, whose retinue

i can belong to                                           

(murmur, murmur)

we use drones to commit collateral damage

and mercenaries, mercnenaries!


outside the rules of engagement

and un-official off-budget allocations

to render reluctants into bondage

of less squeamy nations

for our enhanced interrorgations                           

(first I’VE heard of it…)


the more i see events so nefarious

the more i see: kafka is hilarious


i see an email arrive

and my phone rings

at the same time                        

(don’t you hate when that happens?

or do you love it?)

then my colleague leans over the short cubicle wall

talking to me before I acknowledge her

about her emergency call


the email is about a problem ticket i had opened for myself for billing purposes, but then cancelled: Am I satisfied with the Resolution? Yes-or-No?


the phone call is from the helpdesk about a problem i have with the documentation portal: when i click on my shared documents, I get “an unexpected error has occurred”; the helpdesk asks, “Does it work on unshared-documents?”


“What,” i ponder out loud, over the phone, “would be the point of un-shared documentation?” There is no answer.


she, my colleague, says we have to back out a change we had made for the new system to replace our old system – apparently noone knew that it would affect the old system . . .


the more i long for sunny skies

the more i see: kafka's a funny guy 


i choose to be amused . . .


i choose & choose & choose

i masticate

i ruminate

i procrastinate

i prognosticate . . .


long overdue

i make an appt with my personal aesthetician

my onychomanicurist

and after


i hold my hand in front of my face

palm toward me

fingers bent

so that i can examine her work closely

testing each nail with the thumb

in a desultory sa-ta-na-ma


i turn my hand over

and extend the fingers

till they catch the light

and the reflected sheen

casts images on my eye


intimations of . . .


the more is see bewild'rin' & bemusin'

the more i see: kafka is amusin'





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                                                                                                          October 1, 2012