So now it’s my fault. It doesn’t matter if that is an illusion…

So now it’s my fault. It doesn’t matter if that is an illusion.
No one wants to hear ‘avant-garde’ applied to them, as if it has been divorced from the
            present, and exists for us only in its historical/neo polarity.
I’m covered in muck.
The truth is only the truth because we can’t pin it down.
I can get you no sweat.
It is true if you pay someone a complement, they are generally nice to you, but this place
            remains very hard for me after three years in a way that New York never was.
There are ropes to grab, here and there, if you’ll look.
This makes some people very upset as they claw and paw and go down.
I wasn’t really talking to you so much as about you.
Creepy, scary. Definitely not empirical. And then you’re talking about mice and I can be a
            sucker for science-geek stuff.
It was a swipe. Tourette’s I choose over silence any day.

Note on the Text

Correspondences is composed of 62 poems assembled while cleaning out personal email ahead of a swift termination date at an old job. It took 11 hours and 46 minutes. I don’t know why I timed it. I was thinking about my time there as congealed labor, though I didn’t do much of anything for 20 hours a week in my hidden cubicle. All lines are written by correspondents to me (and so “found” in a specific sense, perhaps “addressed” would be a better term). I normalized the punctuation and capitalization a bit for consistency. Only one line was taken from any given email. Many poets’ prose is poached here, but none from the Atlanta group (where I would read this material as soon as it was written).

John Lowther’s work appears in the anthologies The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (University of Alabama Press, 2003), and Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems (Negative Capability Press, 2015). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young, is forthcoming from Lavender Ink. His website:

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