The New Century

Vienna revolts outside; in,
an addict is bent
over everything ever written on dreams
and hating it—but it has to be done,
to write the book, and he has to feel
a little unwell to write well.
Janus, his grubby old god
with the two faces—
no example extant,
Roman or Gothic,
possesses a third—
weights his writing down
while his hand,
under auspices that conflict,
riddles into plots
where Schliemann
had just been digging,
or so he thought,
deep as Mycenae and Troy.

Freud takes care, in his spare time,
what little he has, after walks
with his family in the park,
to avoid thinking. But the thing
that keeps taking his time
and making him think
is not that all the dreams
he's reading annoy him
with their dreamers'
insufferable cleverness,
or that he himself,
an insufferably clever

but shabby old Jew,
jokes of going to Rome
for Easter,
but that the new century,
whatever else it manifests,
is latent with his death—

which is intriguing.
But he's worked a little too
tremendously to bring forth
what, like most revelations,
is not so interesting
as the possibilities
discarded along the way—
to which, somewhat shaken,
he now returns.

 

Freudian Tenderness

Freud liked to collapse distinctions:
masochism is the continuation
of sadism ("nothing but"), in which
one's own person takes the place

of the sexual object; so looking
is analogous to touching; is based
on touching, is base in so far forth;
but neither the lingering at the touching

nor the lingering at the looking
satisfies the libido, the lust;
not the hunger, not the seeking,
not the loss, not the original

impulse or itch; here, there is no
base to touch, however corporate
the large series of factors may be
(conscience, castration complex),

however hard it is to believe
that a man who doesn't recognize you
two hours after meeting you
will recognize himself forty-three

years ago, tugging at his mother,
a charming woman 'with no clothes on.
There are all kinds of ways
to get into, and stay in, touch,

and the best excuse for not touching
is owning a person-which isn't
as easy as you might think. Many
are trying hard to come up with

original names, to achieve granularity,
to become dedicated paths on which
no noise conserves or returns
whatever is infantile and hurts.

Tenderness becomes hostility
("We are all somewhat hysterical")licking
of feces, violation of cadavers,
the anatomical transgression itself

(body piercing body, cloning)highest
and lowest everywhere
hanging together intimately
(no danger, here, of hanging separately);

shame, loathing, pain, fear;
anything bundling on or near
mouth, cell wall, anus;
but we cannot touch the fact.