Greg Nissan

Three Poems from The Commission 



Not listed are the beautiful corners, the chamfers, the loiterers, and two facing benches in the middle of the street. I have not seen anyone use them, but surely they open the cold stone and tinsel-grease into a public feeling of exhilaration, periphery.


I stop to take a picture. Not listed are my targets. It won’t produce knowledge with one sample, but requires a crowd of inputs to manufacture a departure, which could be knowledge, or the train this morning.


The qualitative observation of the city bends off the quantitative set like a screeching bow, in that the snapshot fails, the skyline fails, it all fails in the single shot. Because we walk, and even this at different paces, because we face not the buildings, but the other buildings, because we say “the city” when we mean “my aching everything has a quiet stone to quit on,” the skyline fails to accommodate the smallness of our walking. An edge producing centers. A ledge producing pigeons. Is one step too far.


In a recrimination of fall, in a catapult-blue morning, in a light I thank the gunky stucco for catching, I can honestly say to you: it is the city who writes us, to ask us, please do not reply.






But until I can free the object          from its usage I’ll keep using the usage like an object down          on one knee to offer you flowers as if to say          as if to say hollows out pretty quickly          on one knee, the only knee I’ve ever had          and I had it twice. Now you’ll understand          my confusion about beginnings.






I squander tender minutes in search of the search bar. Let’s go around in a circle and each share how much we hate this form of introduction. If that rejection stitches us together, have we more deeply embedded the form through its subversion, like Wagner did opera, or orange juice bourbon? Hey asshole, you tell me why my ideas hit the page flat like seltzer. It was a seltzer always flat, the city is merely realistic, and will not carbonate your tap.


Tired of such obvious complaints, such decanted podiums? The truth is no one knows how to fix the city but you, and you can’t answer, being plural, and start and part and chart of the problem.