Spotlight series #40 : Marty Cain

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


This work comes from a manuscript-in-progress called The Prelude. It asks: in the face of fascism and climate genocide, what use does the aesthetic have? It asks what “use” is, and whether the aesthetic can redefine it. It asks: how can we envision a better, utopian world without it being a transcendence ­– a form of escapism — from our current one? It’s an attempt to read the unconscious of the Romantic surface; I call this unconscious the “subgarden,” a space that flouts enclosure and the Law and attempts to burn down the Arcadian garden from underneath. It’s an attempt to remove Wordsworth’s brain from his skull and treat it as a pulsating medium through which Time, the political, and the aesthetic move.


The effervescent beauty of
The chicken headless. What’s it thinking
As it moves in circles of its own shit
To wander with no brain a poem
Like canned chunky soup
And unidentifiable expired meat
Stuck at the bottom
The stake in the brook interrupted
By the viability of regulating currents
Of biosphere matter
Shortchange the lint
The drawer to hear Sun in wind
The rocks and rot slowly this way
I die on and on
Is there a center to what I’m saying
A regional arboreal
Or sociohistorical context
Framing the dewy utterance
Fuck you
The house fissured a single
Light in the working room to break
Dark in approximated knees and corpse-like matter
A skin of shingles
The rain is a process and has an unconscious
The authoritarian density of bread
And Sun in each bubble
It self-services in several miles of wire
The agitated reflective hose
I fell in love with a leafy trap, a grave
To slip into the meadow
I rolled my ankle
While writing it down

Marty Cain is the author of Kids of the Black Hole (Trembling Pillow, 2017), a book-length poem, and Four Essays (Tammy, 2019), an experimental memoir chapbook. Work appears or is forthcoming in Fence, Poetry Daily, Best American Experimental Writing, Tarpaulin Sky, Dreginald, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York, where he co-edits Garden-Door Press, helps run the Party Fawn Reading Series, and is writing a Ph.D dissertation on poetry community in the rural United States.

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