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.