Robert Andrew Perez

my initial impulse is to say, a goat song, but i don't feel
like explaining to it what the festivals of dionysus were—or
couldn't remember (dionysia amnesia)—so i tell him
several love stories, the same ones told to me when i asked:




he said, meet me here. she said, meet me here
instead. they agreed & both were late

to the wrong place. they tried again then later
fell in love. while in love, he said, i love you

for the first time in his life. she said, i love you
back. more time passed & they fell out of love

but continued to say the words. one day,
when in the season of dying, she said, meet me

here. when he arrived, they saw each other
in a wash of grey light. it was cloudy. as he

moved closer to her, into focus, she began to feel
the words in her mouth like fire. i should have

left you so long ago, she finally said out loud.
you are the only woman i have ever loved.




fill this box with stars:

|                              |
|                              |
|                              |
|                              |
|                              |
|                              |


(ten minutes later)

| *                       *    |
|    *                         |
|                              |
|    *            *            |
|            *    *    *       |
|        *   *                 |

now think of the saddest thing you can think of.

now think of the happiest.

how many stars are missing from each box?




let me answer your question with a question
whose voice do you hear when you imagine the plant saying water me?                          




my last shot
to get you

to know
tragedy so

i act out
3 hours

of hamlet. you
remark everyone

is dead
i say ophelia

ophelia, ophelia
soaking wet








I hate to be my own analysand. I tend to give myself the shivers when I write about my own work, which I guess is part of the reason I gave myself a thesis like the one presented in the poem, that the difficulty of describing something so abstract but necessary in my writing (tragedy) is like articulating my personal poetic aesthetic or poetic concerns. In a way I’m describing the later by failing to describe the former. The thing that surprised me about the poem was how theatre or features of the theatre began to rupture my attempts at definition. Likewise, a diagram felt necessary in this series. Both infograph/diagram and theatre/performance are representational mediums, but ones that necessitate a type of Barthesian viewer interaction, the way a poem implicates the reader in its poemness. Thus, the core of my poem is the diagram that tasks the reader to do something but also does it for the reader. This relinquishment of agency and immediate reclamation, of course, is fictive. The poet is powerful and powerless. The simultaneity of tragedy to be destructive and productive is and isn’t a metaphor.