Art By Omid Shekari


Peter Hujar

Security is the opposite of freedom.
Nostalgia is the opposite of progress.
Devotion and surprise
are at times in opposition,
though the gasp of one inside the other
is a fragility as superlative
as a moment of shared reflection
in the glass at a photography exhibition.
Happening and stasis happen
simultaneously when I watch
the golden angles move
across the end of your sleep.
I am most I when passing through
and just about to go.

God of Plenty

It is snowing at the beach on Saturn’s moon,
deft atomic cocktails—somewhere microbes
    snowing, the possibility

of life we have not yet fathomed is snowing
light-years in the future, the future
    I want you to imagine now

is a many-leagued night of snow we are wading
waist-deep in, a powder free of gravity, filling in
    the voids we slice through

with our walking, we are strangers, you and I,
though headed I can tell for the same destination,
    the baths at avenue’s end,

what could be better on a snowy morning—no?—
I love to have the tension beaten loose from me
    with willows, I love the hot liberty

of clotheslessness indoors, of sweating and knowing
as I sweat the outside world is snowing, it makes me
    feel triumphant, if dirtied,

like much splendor by the cost, and then I remember
Saturnalia, the Roman period of goodwill in December
    when all business grinded

to a halt—and executions and military operations—
a proto Christmas pause of empire, and everyone
    grew rich by the blizzard

of equal nothing which descended on their lives,
the snow we find we are no better or worse or necessarily
    alone in, it is not necessary,

this conviction you are so singularly afflicted you would
require a series of tender strikes with homeopathic
    branches, they are not necessary,

luxury and fear, nor is it necessary, execution,
though there is much profit in the illusion
    of unsafety, that is what

I want to say to the stranger who asks me
at the bathhouse how I am, while outside
    it is snowing, and beads

of stinky, gorgeous dew gather at his lips,
how’s it going, he says, I want to be more
    truthful, not okay, I want

to say, and so I do, what do you think, I go on,
of the eight state executions in Arkansas
    that have just happened

in half the number of days, and he turns
and there is no one, and he turns and there is
    me and I’m not

playing anymore, I’m not going to pretend
my mind is anywhere my body is, I want to know
    if you think any of this

is necessary, justice, if you think it makes us
safer, stranger, when you think about execution
    if you think about execution

do you remember that there are somewhere trustees
of a drug company growing some percentage richer,
    do you think about the man

who heaved last night a first time, a second time,
a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, I will go on
    saying time now every time

because I insist upon your continued attention to each
moment which is a moment you are culpably alive in,
    there is after all someone dead

from a series of moments which were unnecessary,
which resulted from a botched administration,
    our nation is a botched

administration, the very execution of a nation
over centuries, inherently botched, we have botched
    the planet, the whales

washing up with their stomachs full of car parts,
all the metal corpses of our manifest destiny,
    our, our, our, mine, mine, mine,

the possessive is a European case, I want to say,
oh stranger, oh alien, our only comfort in time
    is its dispossession of

the future, the future by its nature inherently free,
asymptotic to reality, I am comforted that life
    may be happening

in an elsewhere pre or post colonial, perhaps
in snowdrops on a beach on a moon spinning recklessly
    in the outer rings of a planet

named for a god who devoured his son.