"The Police" by Daniel Poppick

COMPANY EDITIONS is an independent publisher of poetry and visual art. The journal, Company, was founded in 2013 and is published three or four times per year. We will also be publishing chapbooks beginning in late 2016. Company Editions is based in Athens, GA, Iowa City, IA, and Cambridge, MA. You can contact the editors by emailing editors@companyeditions.com.







Speech is the fourth wall made permanent & at its window

Prayer collects, modicum of hot noise

Insisting in a fog we find the breeze & greenery beyond the glass most critical.

Hours clench their fists & begin

Nursing candlelight modeled after the soliloquy of winces

Vincent Price delivers on horseback, lack of British accent brazenly flickering

Witchfinder General (1968), I cannot verify

The features of the sunset on the evening

I watched that movie projected

On an island in a Northern state, July (2011). In


A subsequent dream he & his horse upbraid me when I

Describe the electric

Current running through them to you, I say to Price (of the horse)


Let it eat a hot aglow

White magnesium blend of oats & apps

To animate some running

Not in its feet but spine, & they


(Price, the horse) snatch

Apples from my briefcase faster than anyone moves even in movies. Then I wake.

They were correct


To steal, I wasn’t even really speaking

To them so much as you in a fuzzed prototype of what turns out

To be this essay,

Presenting myself as a salesman of apples

Rather than a holy ghost

As other apple salesmen will.


Do you see how already in my account those unremembered features

(Of the movie, not dream) are flattening to a billboard

Magnetizing your gaze up from some interstate’s white lines

Toward a romping airbrushed puppy & beaming


Child, so that if you are to trust me to not bleed you of your brain’s money

Today I have to be equally against whatever I’m selling & the light it emits?


In the movie Price & the horse drone rough woe

Trotting o’er the land

In a series of sinister nasal eruptions concerning the whipping of witches

Between shots of various actresses’ wide eyes & buxom screaming.

Outside the ocean flicked

Light at the house, seals burped on their rock behind a fat wad of cedar & hanging

Moss. That the horror should be taken as comedy

Watching it transpire on a bedsheet screen


With a collection

Of stoned middle-aged men was reflected in their

Interrupting to briefly bear kitsch’s thick shit

For us with a dramatization

Of their own. Vexed, they said things like


It’s not the hottest hot

Chocolate I’ve had but it

Will do, &

What’s going on is he hitting

Her this is horrible, &

Rain makes a hooligan

Out of the soundtrack I can’t hear the actors


It is now impossible to remove these men from the movie,

It would be like editing out the horse, Price straddling thin air five feet off the ground.

They were too high to listen to anything, it was they who were masterpieces,

Price watched them from the screen

& dropped his weapons. It

Darkened & those I love slept to the west so I joined them believing


Art stalks us in broad daylight anyway, child with blade

Drawn to slit our throats as we cross through a country

She calls home & stays young in, always forgetting that our throats are billions

& our breath spills between.

But forgetting our power is requisite as deliberately confusing the sound

Of a fire truck over the hill

With a wolf’s cry. Art needs us no less than we

It. Otherwise the poor kid follows to our cities

To grow old long before spilling

A drop of our blood.

Behind her grown-up villains, born with beards,

Follow all & never die.






Some weeks

Before seeing it you & I walked

Over the Brooklyn Bridge in


Rain without speech, though

That conversation was of a glamour

I did not know I knew how to submerge my brain


In much less physical hands,

For we are only pronouns & as such suffer through deserts of dulled nerves.

We walked in a net

So large the district

Slipped through one of its holes, taxis’ dry

Groans like houses

Gathering the glow of an evening meal. If it means hosting nightmare like stiff wind

Sails I’m not

Sure one needs

To be so quiet, there are other modes of transportation. But

Need squeaks out from holes in demand & demands rust according to our speed.


I would be leaving for another hemisphere in the coming

Months & in the interim was taking a crack

At selling you on the benefits of keeping track of our faces &

Voices via Skype

Instead of languishing in their absence for that duration, hoping to allay

Your fears that this program was a load of shit & would garble

The both of us into delayed beeps & pixels, though I was also a bit of that mind.

Despite our advances we have not found a clear way to speak over oceans.






One morning in October you woke & told

Me you’d dreamed I’d been campaigning for it, I’d said


You won’t hear

My actual voice but a tone

Of it played on saxophone don’t

Worry they will still be my actual

Words only spoken

In actual saxophone, & proceeded


To show you a shot of what my face

Would look like on the screen, bone structure & features intact

But with alternate translations of flickering color.

You remained unconvinced but were

Coming around when you woke.


It is not impossible to fit & channel love

Through a glowing two-dimensional

Plastic screen but it sucks.

Something of the flesh thereby transmitted


Did not feel as regal as it should have to the eye alone,

Not for one’s features

But the spell they cast, like a metaphor about pheromones

In which literal smells enter the face, one

I am not capacious enough to invent at this juncture

Where I am trying to speak

In a grammar quick with weeping.

Given our circumstances together under this hot

Blue lid

Love requires better access to somatic swoon

Than this clusterfuck can bring to bear.


It must be repeated

Until the figure hardens into something liquid

As the human frame, not impossible

For if you are reading this transmission

Chances are our heartbreaks at this point in history

Are more alike than ever.


I have been better about being alone

In recent years but waking

Up next to you had come to feel like having lungs, adamantine &

Hilarious. Moving away in December

I did not want to be reminded silence is vestigial

Or for that matter ever leave you again


So I’ll swallow

Whole days shaved off a life in a country I might have known

But never did. I did not know how to tell you about air,

Nor now

Even inside the parcel of this attempt.


When we did speak lo

& behold it was delayed in the wires. You hung

Up on me once in anger

& though I might have deserved & it’s unconscionably adolescent to do so I will admit

It, I wanted to die

As much for knowing

That so many others have felt crippled


Endlessly by something as fleeting

As fighting with a lover

As for the digital clang


The program’s receiver made when

You retreated from that window

& went back to the winterized rooms in the States I felt a cartoon version

Of myself was already living in

An even more inert Pinocchio,

Wan & drawn by Disney.


I took to the streets

Looking to foster attention constellations

That would protect us from all the ill we

Foist upon one another unwillingly

Without ever thinking that love, against

Our beliefs & wishes, seems

To require it


In hot multitudes of names & inflections beyond what an hour’s exchange can bear,


A shitload of invention required & in love invention

Is as difficult a gift to give another as ever,

Wanting neither fire nor water we do our people in police’s voices.

But when no one wanted to talk outside I went straight

Back to the screen. I’ve never seen so many movies.






In November on the way to hear poets read we were pulled over

& though I had only been speeding the young officer

Clad in sunglasses despite the clouds & bruised light

Asked me to step out of the car &


Accompany him in his cruiser

While he ran background checks. You shrugged & I,

Quietly alarmed


Not because I had done wrong but in exposure to force

Coiled more tightly than my own

Comprehension or sway followed him & fixed

Myself in his front seat. He asked if this was the first time

I’d seen one of these from the inside


& I said it was.

Behind us, bottled in a clean & perforated plexiglass pane,

A German shepherd continued completely losing her shit.

The officer told her to shut up

& as he ran the program on our licenses he asked what I did.


I told him I was a teacher

Though the truth was I was unemployed.

Ashamed of the lie, I added

I was also a writer. At this he looked up.

He asked what kind of writing I did & I said poetry.

He smiled,


& I don’t think I’m lying to think I discerned a muted affection, but will never be certain

As sympathy & contempt often run the same drills

On the field of the face.


What kind of poetry.

I told him that was the hardest & worst

Question he could ask, & at that he laughed.

I told him most of it didn’t rhyme


& he repeated that out loud.

He asked if I knew any of my poems by heart


& at that I laughed,

Said I didn’t, but wanting to offer something for his seemingly earnest curiosity revealed

A key poem in the book I was writing was titled

“Appetite Technician.” He nodded & thought about that for a moment, asked

What’s the title of the book?

I never thought to ask his name.






Another dream. Six white horses write on a wall, their pencils repeatedly

Clattering to the floor. They coat their hooves with

Rubber cement & step on the pencils with superannuated care,

Continue. Piles of shavings litter the ground around them.

Their riders sit at a nearby table playing

Online poker, but when the wind

Picks up the internet

Fails. The riders curse & mount the horses,

Ride to a meadow where the connection can be repaired. Given to fright when


The offending riders root for their whips,

The six horses run together


From wall to meadow, & when they arrive they pick a variety of pens from the

Grass with their teeth.

When the riders are finished gluing wires they remount.

Tired out, the horses trot

Back to the wall with the pens. But

Six more horses have arrived at the site,


Black as coal & without riders, painting

Over the pencil. They turn & stare at the first six with brushes

Hanging limply from their lips,

& the riders dismount to inspect the new designs.


This is one method by which horses have been trained to study the collapse of repetition.






A gesture runs deeper than the improbable

Stone, someday the sun will have swatted

Our friends underground where our childhood toys are buried & will
We then wish to share a bed with strangers

& speak with them about all we know who have continued

Against the promise of a grid

Diminishing even as its points sharpen into hyperbolic focus when evening settles down?

The reading lamp goes on,

It does a different chemical


Reaction than other light upon the skin

& at that I do not know.

A trust between all inert objects punctures night

Such that we are forced to admit that nouns are either alive or more

Active than we have imagined

& this is also involved

In our capacity to learn not only how to love correctly

But the survival of our species.

As for the former

It seems I can only write this when we are apart, so perhaps as strangers

We might learn to love to critical exhaustion


The versions of each other who remain but avatars

For functions impossible to be performed except in a state

Of radical & unknowing patience

Which works more brightly when subsumed into the muscle

Of our waking lives, so it’s no mistake we want to fuck

Now as we write this sentence in May, your breath the only grammar

I want to see in color before the night is over,

Your speech & glances made mythic by the fact that it is you who speaks.


But even myth refutes demands

Submitted in the story so far as it’s been told,

A wolf wails in the distance & on the mantle above the fireplace

A key spins in a little horse as she slows her hooves

& when she stops the room slips into a capable darkness.






May this invention issue a multitude of orders

& may you disobey them all

That shatter records will shore their action

Against our luminous attention to beam beyond a flat & white refrain.

Plucked from the ground

Like ribbons from a gift box packed with a doll,

Earth needs our bones gliding over it precisely less

Than we the song issuing five or six feet above the green.

The decorations who make the gift thoughtful

Should not be confused with the doll itself in all its mute & painted glamour,

As living matter, plastic cells

Lush with the spell

Of carnal affinity flinging through our veins, is not the same as life.

We love the world for what it reflects as much as for what it contains.


Now in July others I love sleep far from the coast &

I have trouble remembering my own dreams, rendering the one

About Price & the horse remarkable for its knife-edged amplitude, even


If you will never know whether or not my actual words were a lie

To move you into believing, as belief is the only house

We are told we are built to sleep inside.


The movie sleeps in the air itself, the men in its glowing reviews.

By the light of that candle it is Price & the horse

Who are a house,

You & I are not until cold wind & rain incorporates

Us into its virus of bedtimes, though on the bridge


We were soaking

Wet & the money-light

Was streaming & here I am again continuing to drag you under that roof.


All the sunset does in memory is bloom like a brand, gold pill dissolving

Into the body of water nearest our pillow.


I’m not against the sunset but its problems

In advertisements are myriad as sleep.

I recommend you go outside, see one with your own two eyes &

I’m not selling anything free. Here is another dream for no money.


The window weeps

A bag of light

Into the bedroom, white clatter

Chased by humming filaments


& you place your face still as flint by the light

& your face clicks

& fills with liquid. A holy ghost runs from your eyes

& nose, a holy ghost green on your sleeve

Winds its way down amalgams of streets with you while you speak to strangers

& at home even your ice cubes pray in the dark

& the dark weeps, sneezes

& as night drives in its wilted nails Price hacks the coffin an unscreened window

& the holy horse freezes.


(11 September 2011—4 July 2012)


Daniel Poppick’s first book of poetry, The Police, is forthcoming from Omnidawn. His poems appear in the New Republic, BOMB, Granta, Fence, The Volta, Prelude and elsewhere. A chapbook, Vox Squad, is out from Petri Press. He lives in Brooklyn, where he co-edits the Catenary Press with Rob Schlegel and Rawaan Alkhatib.