This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"The New Material" by Mikel Weisser

"The New Material"
By Mikel Weisser, of Kingman

Written Sept. 7, 2000,
read at the Sedona Poetry Slam
on Saturday, March 20

Last night
I dreamt a group of scientists announced the development of a new material,
one that was all style and no substance.
Odorless, colorless, tasteless,
each of those things and yet none.
All style and no substance,
the implications were immense.

Immediately an investigation was begun to establish the practical applications.
I was called on to be part of the team installed to exploit
the unlimited possibilities of a material that was
all style and no substance.
And though I knew there were several of us on the team
I never saw anyone else’s face.

Of course, at first, we worked to apply the new material to its most logical application:
It was the breakthrough we’d all been waiting for.
All style, no substance.
We could make a burger that glistened on the screen and touched the eternal longing to be filled,
yet left no cholesterol or mustard stain,
a car that felt as powerful as a five foot penis,
yet would not pollute nor deposit road kill,
a blond to make you buy diamonds and feel desired
yet offered no morning after after taste of age.

We sold cities to country folk, pastoral scenes to subway dwellers
and no one had to leave their one place to be the other,
for it was just a matter of style, not substance.
We sold intelligence to fools
and ignorance to the blissed
yet neither was stuck with the sense of responsibilities therein implied,
for it was merely a matter of style, not substance.
We sold cyber-sex to the celibate, strength to the weak
and non-dairy low-fat whipped topping to those who felt unadorned.
We dressed it up as everything, and it was loved by everyone,
and all of them clamored for more, more, more
and we gave it and gave it, and gave,
and it was never too much,
because it was all style and no substance.

So we tried to apply it in music
Size 4 singers in size 14 jeans wrapped their tonsils ’round it and poked out their belly buttons with pride.
Booming thugs puffed up their chests and clutched their 9s as if it were their crotches and bellowed how the material embodied their absolute essence without even requiring them to say “motherfucker,” as they swigged on their gin and juice.
Razor edged haircuts moshed each other into angst ridden pulp to vie for the honor of hammering home its three chords.

We tried it everywhere and soon it was everything.
All style and no substance, all style and no substance.
It was the mantra of our century.
It was at last a voice of reason.
And as I kept saying “we” I knew I kept knowing “I..”
I ogled the material, and coveted it, and felt shamed before its truth.
I praised it, I lusted it, I worshiped its freedom from failure, its purity beyond judgment.

Slowly and slowly I crowded the others out;
slowly and slowly I embraced and embodied the material.
Always to be in fashion, never to be found lacking.
All style and no substance,
always to feel my full fat face and never my emptying soul.
All style and no substance,
Slowly and slowly the institute faded,
and the world faded and eventually even the material faded and there was just me:
all style and no substance,
Just me and my mirror, all style and no substance.
just me and ever death closing in from the one side,
just me and ever life slinking off in the other.
All style and no substance,

Just me and the mirror, all style and no substance,
all style and no substance.
Just me and I cried and I reached and I woke—

and as I rose in my terrors I knew that that dream was truth,
for there I was in my mirror still.

Mikel Weisser © 2000

From Mikel Weisser's "A Simple Calendar"
Available from:
Cohillican Productions
4490 Sundown Drive, So-Hi, AZ 86413

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