Spuyten Duyvil, 2002
Garrett Kalleberg’s Psychological Corporations finds that the subject’s position in psychic space can be rigidly fixed, just as “at exactly 12:10 AM a photograph will be taken of my garbage/ can from 5 miles up and in 2 or 3 years I could buy it for cheap.// That at exactly 12:30 AM a/ photograph etc. There’s an advertisement in Wired.” The speaker of “From a Psychological Atlas” tracks “very very very small scale” emotional movements from behind a terrifyingly blank lab coat, while he of “Agoraphobia” gazes “at the panorama and the whole/ glorious diorama of pedestrians going around, very slowly,/ for walks.// Not rats.” In 18 lyrics that take neo-Eliotic alienation to the breaking point, Kalleberg finds the zero point where morality disappears in action and feeling. —Publishers Weekly
A David Lynch of deadly nightshade poetry, Garrett Kalleberg may enter posterity, like Thomas Grey for his “Elegy on a Country Courtyard,” on the basis of one or two perfect, scary poems.... Psychological Corporations... ends with a singularly memorable poem: “The Last Seven” takes images and words from The Book of Revelations.... Angels, plagues, beasts, troop by, only to terminate in an unforeseen volte face: “[And] he is the eighth, and is of the / angels which had the / vials full / of the seven last plagues, and / talked with me”. A complex problematics of subject (self/ego) are compressed into that final fillip: what could “me” be, in dialogue with such phantasmagoria?... Kalleberg goes as deep and vulnerable as childhood’s guilty traumas—“I have dark thoughts these nights, dreams / which are pretty violent, I / hope this doesn’t mean anything I’ve / never hurt a thing, really, not including / when Bryan and I went crazy with a / BB gun upstate, we were young, children / can be cruel, children are cruel”—and as high and cynically adult as meditations upon the career of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, in a plain, sometimes brutal, but brutally honest poetry. —Rain Taxi
* * *
And now: the electrical stimulation of a frog
And now: the electric light bulb
And now: the electrocution of an elephant
And now, ladies and gentleman in the dark: the dark.
The room is dark, madness
is dark, comedy is dark, the night is dark
when the curtains are closed shutting
out the street
light, I have dark thoughts these nights, dreams
which are pretty violent, I
hope this doesn’t mean anything I’ve
never hurt a thing, really, not including
when Bryan and I went crazy with a
BB gun upstate, we were young, children
can be cruel, children are cruel.
* * *
The New Gate
to take in
like a gate, opening to concrete
fields, streams, states. At the edge
not shadow, not light—
forms moving, at the periphery forms
waiting. By the wall,
figures marching—in dark blue
or black—it is dark, too dark
to tell. It is hard to tell
one from another, gray
forms blocked out against a gray field,
as when one looks at a photograph
or map, a plan reproduced
in the newspapers—I seem to have
lost the clipping—what is ever left
anyway? The wall may be razed,
the plan remains.
The gate may be destroyed,
there will be a better gate
to stand the test—against which
all people move, though they may not know
where they’re going.
the train pulls in—time
can be told by it—the new train
enters the gate,
but it does not go out again.
Following a straight line, bodies
enter in at the periphery.
But they do not go out again.
One could see, it is a good wall
and a good gate, opening
to a steady stream of gray figures,—nothing
is ever lost. Nothing has ever lived
and is lost to the mind which can
as certainly as a concrete wall, a gate
or station—a state of rest
by a field of dead grasses.
* * *
The poems of Psychological Corporations challenge the limits and excesses of rationality and its requisite objectification on the one hand, and subjectivity as a state and as a condition, however tenuously constructed, on the other hand, through the linguistic medium of their equivocal interactions.
Published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2002, Psychological Corporations is available from Amazon.