Kristin Prevallet, SHADOW EVIDENCE INTELLIGENCE, Factory School, 2006

Some mornings I wake up and wonder what’s wrong.

Then I turn to poetry.

If it doesn’t tell me I turn away.

SHADOW EVIDENCE INTELLIGENCE – these words could be separated by slashes. But I don’t think the anger of the present moments of being alive would permit that. It has to (have that) bite. That sound bite. Or we’re wounded (for life).

Life is obligatory. So is suffering. So is poetry. Get it? There’s space in this (there has to be space in this) for verbs. (I’m writing from memory.)

These texts come back upon themselves in ways that almost erase them(selves). Life cracks / emits poems / so much dust (shadow). I’m paying attention (it might just not look like it to me).

  O I must start building my own life, before we all die!
and –
 O brilliant, burning, amazing youth!
 O visionary slogan-makers, still writing dissent on subway walls!
and –
 O Whitman, you never saw it coming!
O my soul! Oh powerless speech!
O infant, speck on the century!

Indeed – there’s no way out of the mind-grit of the negative euphoria.

This is of the kind of spiritual poetry that I’ve come to be able to expect of Kristin. And I’ve always defined spirit as life energy / soul as life source. And this has – both.

I’m missing everyone that isn’t here.

Whitman included everything. This excludes nothing. Are these two approaches the same or different? I leave it for you to decide. Or perhaps I’m merely being clever. The reality is (I think) that only the times have changed (deteriorated). It’s much harder now to write poetry than when Whitman did. When last the church licked the lilac’s groom.


If a soldier dies while maiming
another person the last
living memory of that soldier’s life
will be in the mind of the
person maimed:
so the last memory of you
is in the mind of the
people who behold you
so be gentle with them lest
they be gentle with your image
in memory
in mourning
in the work of
seeing you in life.
Memory survives
the corporal state:
this is the only afterlife you can be sure of.

We fly away / fly away / fly away home. Responsibility keeps us alive – or it could if we’d listen. Responsibility to life (life (life (responsibility to life))). And then I could stop – here.

The text of hers from which the above is taken – Amateur Order – is divided into sections the way a business plan might be – I / A / 1 (for example) – and as such it stands counter to all business plans but the plan for the business of shared life. A counter plan. Or – a plan counter to all that.

This is a thrilling book in the sense that it can pace us. Give us a reason for being in this place (is there a time (left)?).


And yes – it is all about the fucking OIL – as if there were any left.


In another sense – in a very real other sense – what this country is drilling for (everywhere) is death. Tears come to mind.

There really is nothing left to laugh about these days. Unless we make it up (a very very very very temporary respite).

John Tavener wrote The Protecting Veil (I’m listening to it now) – but we don’t have one (unless we make that (that) up). Can we make it up? Can we make such things up? I don’t know.

We find ourselves engrossed upon the sea. But what of what is happening? To you? To me?

The sad dead palpable insult of a fact.

If we were more cadenced we would be more free.

Poetry is not free.
It costs so fucking much it hurts.
The letters of the alphabet are the most powerful things in the world.

Nobody needs a syllabus to know where they’re going. Don’t freak me out. I love happenstance. Ie – keep it egoless.

We bring ourselves down into the world – in order to cope with it – and it doesn’t help. O well (well! (o well!))!

  (The content of the moment is the act of being continuously present.)

And yet everything is as important as all that.

Actually – there is no time.

  The word force in and of itself does not include a sense of measure; i.e., used on its own, it assumes total and complete power over another body. In the case of a “forced entry,” for example (the use of violence to clear a passageway, either through a doorway, or through a woman) there is absolutely no sense of measure; the entry was completely and absolutely cleared of its obstruction.

This makes me so unalterably sad.

We have only ourselves to pardon for the mess we’re in – and I think Kristin knows it or she wouldn’t write with such passion and forgiveness (which is compassion (after all)). We’re in it with her – and made to feel that – and that’s a good thing – the stuff of ageless lambasting poetry. A sort of satire in a way – but dead (dead (dead)) serious.


This is the difficulty of poetry.

and –

No one can escape being implicated in the flow: this is the difficulty of poetry.

But the present is the tense of poetry. The present is the only tense of poetry. (Thank god (oof!) for those of us who are tense!)

For all writing is a palimpsest. If only it could be so (and enduringly so) all over the pathetic text written by abhorrent history.

Thank you – Kristin.