Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009
Few poetry books define their parameters as rigorously as Garrett Kalleberg’s Malilenas, and fewer still find within a system as generative. A slim poetic catalog of weights and measurements, Malilenas examines how we impose order through routine quantifiers—from binary code to cellular biology, from calendars to stock markets, from gender to semiotics—and yet how artistic expression and human connections transcend order. —Coldfront
A slim poetic catalog of weights and measurements, Malilenas examines how we impose order through routine quantifiers—from binary code to cellular biology, from calendars to stock markets, from gender to semiotics—and yet how artistic expression and human connections transcend order. —James Cihlar
Numbers slide promiscuously around in these poems, emboldening the fundamental ways in which we have relations with counting (accounting for): bodies, monies, words, selves. Kalleberg’s work embodies a science of many, and the indivisible hangs out in it, too, as fabulous, energetic, funny and full of pathos as César Vallejo, hitting us in our pecuniary pocket, if the wallet were a thing we wore on our hearts. —Eleni Sikelianos
* * *
You have beautiful eyes,
I said to the mirror.
This was the day I went blind.
I like to watch,
said the mirror.
This was the day I tore my eyes out.
Unable to see,
my hearing became quite acute
give me this
and I heard a voice say,
Who are you talking to?
And when I opened my eyes,
¡Mira! how good we look together!
Even now, one says, I will follow you,
imaginary friend, into the future,
then is gone. Now only one of us
in the mirror.
The mirror says,
I will follow you, imaginary friend,
into the future, then is gone.
Now no one, nothing left to prove I’m smiling.
* * *
In the male, the female.
And in the familial a blank check
signed by all signs, backed
by the capital of all signifieds,
fronted by the signifier in all things.
We can do anything
discharged of all debts, banished
from all trespasses, obviated
in all obligations
and tied to no tie nor three-button coat
not manacled to the man of the manual man
nor exactly seared onto the soul of the cerebral man,
just don’t buy those boots you saw with Serena
and make the sandwich endure lunch unto supper.
* * *
I’m glad we met,
says the joy of fucked-up luck
to a beautiful disaster.
In regards to which beauty, wounded,
I can’t speak, I’ve been trying to tell you—
too late to get into that again.
I’m just happy you’re here.
You came and
you’re here and here is here and
there is oblivion misinterpreted
as metaphysical. I lose myself
but am happy
I found you
repeatedly and I
at a cruel rate,
* * *
Malilenas developed out of notebook I called “Numerological Notebook” begun in late 2005 about money, love, and the wars. Malilenas is a series of 47 numbered poems with various links and doublings played out in a space of shiftingly intimate rhetorical turns or exchanges in the medium of debt and reconciliation.
For ten years, beginning with Limbic Odes and later through the series “Relata & Anti-Relata” in Some Mantic Daemons, I’d been thinking about a kind of poem I call an ode, or dialectical lyric. This thinking, oriented towards a kind of string theory of the poem, always seemed to leave a remainder. Poetically, Malilenas is an attempt to work through the remainder.