Noah Berlatsky



Hammer and Membrane

There’s a field of diamonds in my court-ordered chew toy,
but will you abide by the terms of the exciting announcement or putter
like foreign cryptids into mayonnaise fart control?
The unbearable whiteness of being the abominable Roman 

aqueduct with exorcist fluid dynamics and alchemy that transubstantiates
accountants into the body and blood of amnesiac venture capitalists.
Make me one everything app with samsara and I will fill
the comments sections of manosphere message boards with enough 

art education majors to rupture your healing breakfast.
That’s less a promise than a happy brisket with bone sauce
and harmonious copaganda. What about prowess? Ketamine?
Singularity? It’s all transgressive like the first day of teenage classics 

when the sales force actualized via a massive gathering of
wedge pillows deep in the under-ear of the premiere tycoons.





Got the luxurious conventional sell-out marriage blues,
and every anarchist is eating soup with a fork.
Got the Ray-Bans for vampire freedom and Orlok
fucks up your borders like a popularist polling tax credits 

for plague ships. Leverage customer data for astral spirits
and let naïve cynicism register your anti-establishment branding
till you get overdetermined by large language model blues.
I can’t quit you, gravy, but I’ve got to put you 

in my Venmo for a while. Clapton snorts smallpox till Madame
George rings the bell for meaty Englishness. Channeling
art theft. But the good kind, where you don’t have to
mark them down a grade. Just-in-time production of multipolar 

cosmic vastnesses—is it infrastructure week already? We’ve
learned so much from the decadent nobles and their dick pics.



You Must Read to Write

The mind is a garden of wild and whirling words that must be watered
with the themes of English B.
Or possibly
I have no inner resources.
Just an inner frog
that bellows “Marilyn Chin! John Berryman!”
through the wild and whirling slog

of footnotes and hyacinth. I am a real poet
like John Cusack with the boom box and the gimlet eye
fixed like a lake on which wild ducks fuck
under Alderaan’s moony sky.

The mind is its own place and in itself, like Godzilla devouring a film about Godzilla.
Godzilla teeth caught on the projector that reflects odd aspects of Godzilla.
Maybe he got Ray Bradbury. You have to hope
like feathers turning into dinosaurs turning into a savage servility
of yapping Cyclopean chinchillas.
They don’t mean to eat you but they do
from within, like Alien.

You can’t give birth to xenomorph Oedipus if there is only you in your epiglottis
bursting forth in a veil of viscera. Not waving not drowning
just floating in id and the turbid ebb and flow
of those who are Mostly Good,
or at least better than you.

I would not be a poem
but a blurb.
Unread, unwritten
and difficult to love.

If I Had Met You

If I had met you everything would be different.
My bowels would work better.
And the trees would have all their petals
stapled on. Or glued. The Macbook would work.
There would be a gilded table in a gilded room
where we would meet regularly. The coffee would be good.
And you would gesture ineffably towards a publishing deal.
I would hold it in my hand, a lily
with all the attachments.

Instead I have only a pot of bad bread
and op-eds grating in my hands like severed teeth.
There is nothing to do but insult my image
which hangs there, a bat upside down,
holding its wings like a blanket of sticks.
It calls and the echo is the approximate shape of me falling
from myself into a better approximate shape
sewn by you from porcelain
and grant money.




This Is the Forest Primeval

You have to know form before you can break the form
as if there is one form to fit and the world
Is built out of busts of Mozart
stacked one on top of the other, so that they form
a really big Mozart bust.
Then ten thousand years from now
they fall over and crack apart into a fractal mass
that looks exactly like the bird poop
spackled on the eye of Mozart.
That is the form you must learn there in the ditch
where the worms excrete perfect castings
and laugh in their wormy way
“Ooooh, isn’t that a long fellow?”


Noah Berlatsky (he/him) is a freelance writer in Chicago. His first poetry collection, Not Akhmatova (Ben Yehuda Press), is forthcoming; chapbooks published or forthcoming include It's Fab (Origami Poems Project), Send $19.99 for Supplements and Freedom (above/ground) and No Devotions (LJMcD Communications). He tweets too much at @nberlat and scribbles longer at Everything is Horrible (