e l i s a b e t h    w o r k m a n

 

City Plan J

City Plan N

City Plan O

City Plan P




















City Plan J

 

improvise an isolated peninsula—that’s the mindset; a jaundiced highway bisects the town. At the junction there’s a supper club whose jingoistic jukebox always plays the song not selected. Blue clouds of smoke loom lacelike among the rafters. Some judgmental weather is quick to happen while jaded angels speak of johnny cash, the jargon an awkward mix of tinsel and dung heaps and donchaknow and jesus. Every chair is a franchise with its back to the wall, the visitor an accident, an act of the occident coincidentally misinterpreting the people’s loneliness for something more like conviviality nearly obsequious. One johnny come lately. Two jackals in the old jalopy with ajax. Three: let’s make this as free from cosmic justice as possible, even on main street where the demolished buildings look like missing teeth, where jell–o moulds line the counter, quivering jellyfish, levitating the smaller organs of the great johnny canuck

 

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City Plan N

 

mercenary, maverick, or missionary—one of the three. Apparently, aside from the alcoholic, oil–eyed narcissist who hasn’t left the sealed villa in three weeks, you should submit to classification. Live on the street with a concrete–slab vista, among amiable guards you always make a point of waving to and the mechanical gushes of water over plastic rocks, marking the entrance. Live as a number under the name, most likely a neologism of capitalist & eastern ideals. There’s the over–chlorinated pool and the water that induces balding. Live a refrigerated existence. On the other side of the walls, the nature of the shifting desert, snakes, and the yellow school bus full of indentured navvies lurk. The nefarious cranking and tapping of industrial machinery define nocturnal white noise. You find yourself wanting to complain about local ways though you’re not really certain how much is local or how much you’ve become a non sequitur

 

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City Plan O

 

never is against now, and a spatial prophesy of great confusion, according to the oracle of never. Individuals in such an ontology may include concrete objects such as people, animals, tables, planets, molecules and obelisks, both crooked and straight, as well as abstract individuals such as zero and the word ‘orifice.’ Then shall one realm overdose on another. Or, then shall multinationals orbit petrol queens rakishly. Glittery ovary daydreams. O that all of us could object sincerely, observe objectively, and occur freely. Then would occult interventions dazzle and the Occident and the Orient acknowledge each other with reverence across magnetic fields humming with ohm. Here we ooze what we really meant to tell each other, and it is difficult and opulent and displayed in origami menageries. Here we are wholly humble because we dream omnisciently of there, which oscillates between never and now, operatic and open–mouthed.

 

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City Plan P

 

or, among a people for whom poverty is a primitive concept. Or, punk rock. Or/either/and positioned, conveniently dispersed, peripatetic thinkers teaching philanthropically ways to protest four–door and two–door perception, that mud–slide of thought pushed against one’s own sense of increasing paralysis, in a city of endangered introspection. What is, practically; what might be performative. Following the perfume trail, both smoky and evanescent, of opposing parties, I might happen upon the suggestion—perfunctory or otherwise—of a murky beginning, a pedantic refugee caught in the politics of belonging and not having. Of prostitution and pedagogy, we might say, with effusive and untrustworthy sincerity, that punishment doesn’t meet anything in isolation, that the imprints of the city for the living are now saturated in a flood that swallowed the deadened promenades upon which we did not meet, the periphery we left before it parted

 

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ELISABETH WORKMAN lives and works in Doha, Qatar. These poems were composed at villa #26 in Al Shallal Gardens, in the Al Waab district of the city, and in Canadensis, a snow–hungry town in Pennsylvania's northeastern mountains.