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John Hall

An essay on lyric ethics

a circuit of economics belief territorialism

a competition for the right to resources

a desk of my own

a lyric elegy for a damaged world

a noble violence

a political life-cycle of fuel

a roll call of names

a space of arbitration and withholding

a violent anti-violence of writing

a word with dance in it like chorus

an ineradicable violence

and to resist damage

anyone who isn’t for us is against us

apostrophe is dramatic not lyric

as ontological destiny

as part of their job

behind me beside me above me

bracketing out particularity

but these should not be confused

can lead to systematic mass murder

constellated by coincidence into systemic evil

costing lost sexual violence


epic song

everyone needs to know who deserves

expensive solitude

extend beyond any lyric instance

for players of musical instruments

from the ethics of lyricism

geared teleology

genealogy of comfort

having nothing to stand under

helped death workers see themselves as noble

however ceremonially restrained

I keep the company of the articulate dead

implicit violence of any belief

implies a world of the possible

in a denial

in certain circumstances

in most circumstances

in my solitude in my negotiations

in notorious examples

in the conditions of a poem

instances of individual pathology

is a condition

is certain and figures

is dangerous

is it enough that

is love or war

is lyric always melancholy does it need

is not caught up

is this sentence one of ‘ours’

its surface inscribed

love takes the named as its object

lyric mobility

modal possibilities

named as a ‘war on terror’

not just a competition for resources

of corporate extermination

of course there are ‘bad apples’ at home

of the dramatic

of the nameable

of the purity of sameness

of the right to inflict damage

of what it could be to be human

only one of which

or perhaps where drama hands over to lyric

or this terminal with its abstract address

overseen by images of male ancestry

part pensioner part employee

points at the name-holder’s chest

power outpowers power

quiet like a no-reply

repeating its silence

say that each poem

sitting at a desk indirectly bequeathed

spreading freedom

stories accounts poems and arguments

take a simple lesson

take the names away and I speak foolishly

tempting into place a theology of devolved absolution

temptingly nameable

that a poem’s linguistic order

that certain poems

that freedom is a right

that gives me title

that right is a freedom

the American people

the articulate absent

the mechanics and performances of power

the motor car for example

the nameable is destroyable

the right to damage in the name of this right

theologians used to know this

these conditions of lyric personae

these epic conditions of lyric solitude

this new expensive pen

this world in which evil is abroad

those who murdered

though as ever names double as decoys

though I have no doubt

through its exclusion of certain

throughout the world

to adopt the posture that humans do when they sing

to catch an erotics of will a violence of drive or purpose

to ignore and deny damage

transcendent subjectivity

uncertainty of circumstances

up against

violence that conceals itself

waived the death sentence

we want each other (’s)

what contract of belonging

where music and poetry are concerned

where resources are always subject to contest

wishing for a better world

within a territorialism of style

within the complexity of financial regulation

within the law

yes ok

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