pass words

       what unknown secrets govern our
       screens & our identities, the desire
       to know each other’s desire
       supersedes the knowledge of our own

       i’ve forgotten what i am again
       & how, locked out
       keyless & clueless which
       digits might make me

       enter my machine & head
       home, placed
       the camera pulled
       rudely acquiesced a kind

       of absolute beauty, did you
       get the annual report
       unopened e-mails unanswered
       questions classified

       based on subject & sender
       case of harassment when
       you see something as a strap

       hanger standing above
       so many brooklyn rushing by
       in dirty faded windows pre
       cautious reminder do not

       lean on doors
       whatever did i guess
       my password mistakes me
       for security questions

       i can’t recall or think
       i lied to begin with how
       i want to live without & from within
       only what i have to give which can be

       very often nothing sting
       singing don’t stand so close to me
       as i text you, i want to
       make believe i can only

       picture your avatar projected
       something secured
       in my jeans front
       pocket uncomfortably close

       in another stranger’s
       ears i pass words
       to you on the tip
       of my tongue in you in your own

       ear & mouth i wish
       to be you

Proximity to the victim,except victim is in double quotes, a fever-sweet witness and shared. I sit at the broken-off counter drinking filth, neatly and with no ice alloy ally of migration in the park dimensional drown, having a harbinger of something I can hardly guess at or use a bot to write this down on a beach somewhere else for our warm mechanical attention and the risk of inconvenience. Puppy eyes and insistence and the pin-prick of my existence shimmering. Imagine all the escaped moments of loving kindness after sixty soft minutes alone in the lavatory to think calmly, another luxury modernity bestows upon the best or the most willing bodies. Pry apart your parched lips for a long list of financials, zoomed in with a digit toward an escalating PDF and let it catch up to you in proximity to the victim. Divided by gender and sectioned by class, race, and ethnicity, sad tigers growing sadder testimonies so I am digging for dollars, all kinds of currency and loved ones in my pocket, quick as a month or minute rapid. Rehabilitated in the gaze of my camera turned backward so I might see myself in the act, spotty, split, reeling icons into a figure of god, extracted of capital, a finger grazing a knuckle, a palm being splayed on the counter drinking filth, neatly and with a continuum of exemptions, like: No women aged 35-50 or: A required distance of 3.5 miles. Proximity to the victim what search results or algorithms pucker against my softened voice or spilled drink, wayward particles of light escape vintage or virtuosity by the simple fact of my being. Proximity to the victim is irrelevant when you are the victim.

Chris Campanioni’s new book is Death of Art (C&R Press, 2016). His “Billboards” poem responding to Latino stereotypes and mutable—and often muted—identity in the fashion world was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and his novel Going Down was selected as Best First Book at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. He edits PANK, At Large, and Tupelo Quarterly and lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches literature and creative writing at Pace University and Baruch College.