Spectrograms / Repairs
(projected autobiography)

I have no body; the “I” has no body: not in the old way. Zones. Pressures. Here a structural tension there an underlying ache. Historicities. Phases of disquiet not clearly demarcated from areas of peace. In the on-going conflict someone hauling out the slide projector, everyone else preparing—Here let me freshen that drink—to more or less sleep. A test case—not first or last. An intermediary attempt, closely monitored—they don't say that just to be reassuring. Vital signs. Mostly to see if what tends to be thought of as two distinct systems still works, compatible: existing in their uneasy but highly functional state of irritation. No active rejection on either side. As yet. “As yet” as pulse. The living space. Into which. Each probability as hypostatized. Dimmed to be lit by the proof: the question of damage held open too long inadvertently. Reassurance wired in, probably, to excite a mirroring response? Static. In another room: preparations, earlier versions, later models, mistakes. A Sentimental Journey. No sudden movements because the upkeep takes time and effort. “See, it's a sand painting.” The dream of being perfectly understood coagulating briefly into grainy legibility among doses of light. Interstices of approval, the two systems (because they're easier to see that way), sitting down at the [televised] table, in dialogue at least the analysts echo for an audience tuning in late—”This is us in...where was that darling…Darling?” Next

Who's the “we” in “We were so civilized”? Another holiday. I across you articulate. A distance. Hydraulics of syntax only part of what's involved. Sections of greasy steel appearing out of nowhere suddenly. Mash notes as scribbled calculations in the margins of the blueprints, if you read them carefully: “I have no body.” Structural coincidences. Soldering so delicate you could miss the seam. Nobody. Two days in what's known as 'the shop' to refrag the memory; ten hours each day of “surgery.” A flare or amplitude of feeling could freeze the whole thing, fixed in position awaiting the arrival of those paid attendants zoned-out on the drugs that make it possible for them to handle me. This is us at the airport, the train station, in a—what did they call them there?—…a kind of illness, a taxi. Hysterical mixture of actual flesh and gone memory. I’m an example, a warning. With drugs and only after intensive training: a hand that's steady. In the slippages slick places of cited pain replace “me.” Relieved at last to be left to my own devices, as they say. As the saying. Frequencies. Only only

Constant breakdowns built in: still shocking. At an early stage of the research, flesh “sensing” the machine as too cold, machine—reacting badly to its experience of the meat environment or 'locker': read as oppressively “hot,” even dangerously.... Relocate. Refocus. Who wants another drink. To call the system dual is to intensify an error but I or we continue to so describe the opposing unstable interfaces. The snacks, their itinerary, a lay-over. Intervening. Parts of parts of things, halfheartedly inventing themselves, utilizing available evidence in combinations at once tired and totally unforeseen. Source and resource sheer materiality. Openings. Migrations. Stalled near the screen. That one's backward, just look at the writing. Discrepancies. Etched in lightly at the edges exactly the edgy confession they'd been seeking—to sign. Expecting

Surface roughened. “Rubble” as if seen from a satellite away. Resonant influences. Omitting the non-relevant features of the phase. Smooth twist of the prefabricated substitute in the meat sheath. Casual kindness causing a more or less ragged check in the gliding hum of I don't feel anything under the mantra-like hiss of the chorus which is Accomplishment. Even the lightest, most casual, rudeness might be too much for the delicate interlockings already under strain, frugal lubrications—doled out by the-system-that-knows-best—sizzling off already. Wisp of What the.... Cordite tang. A 'thin skin' fries the finger a clumsy mechanic waves in the air, like a lit match: “Fuck!” An uninflected frame walked empty through the air: space for a question that doesn't get asked. Work of processed regret, incomplete collections of details in some inadequate assemblage calling attention to the unfinished: “We always meant to go back, but....” Shifting in the dimness. Deleted to meet you. Hot, isn’t it. Complex shapes patched in as requested, wetting down the blistered digit in his mouth so it actually comes out “Whuck!” An interface degrades at timed intervals to keep the fragile assemblage from rejecting its components. A prototype. Not, I repeat, a success. Not “yet.” Always room for improvement the technicians say in passing giving one side of the thing a whack with a spanner, for luck. Built to spec. under constant

Description: a sequence of condensations and cloudy orbits, wind-animated expanse, granular beliefs launched in overlapping elliptical drifts. Shadow-crossed this visible drag of hesitant glottal stops veering off into an ether of scrimped and unlikely guess. “Well it looks like....” I'm the manual ('in the flesh') wherein to read is to dissect. Skimming back off the burn point. Translate. To be frank they left the leaving mechanism inside to go after the always retreating detritus: You knew what I meant etc.. Another tourist trap. Pale scraps of mangled information and then another invasive procedure on the site of a well-educated guess. Stifled laughter. To sit again through the trip. Bodiless. A coded function totals what always gets left out. Here's looking at you. Detailed to the point of incoherence. Mumbling the sentence's outline back down into tape hiss. Dissolved to resonance: that ever I was marketed here to. Set. The profit

Pressure checks the loose stuff; blank screen signing a resistance as they pull the acoustics out through the perforations. With tremulous fingers you reach up: “I can't believe it's not....” Reference. A snake pit of extension cords taking over the studio where they blow dry the ethical subject for the sound bite. No way to find out what it's really worth. Try not to collaborate? Some part constantly being replaced so identification requires a complex and increasingly lengthy series of weary procedures. A sort of rosary: “This is us at....” But I trust you. Amplitudes. Increasing fortifications of a fragility that already bores us: those circuits removed or rendered useless. A pissed-off technician pulling a double shift whacks hot metal once, hard, with whatever comes to hand though the machine isn't why he burned himself. Abjure the single. Explanation. Don't replicates

A tear in tangled masses of optic fiber: somewhere a gap and for a few days it's down, out of reach. Multiple intensities and then numbness. More photographs. A certain stiffness in the seen comes to stand for how real it seemed, once. Before the crash a wheezed scramble of signals: each term infecting the other in an augmented receiver, unable to hear what separates. Wait. Where meat meets wiring what's nobody's fault flinches once and lies still: “In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never....” Sizzle. Notified presence: a wavering program finding its way through the forest alone, darkling. Shove(d) uncurling cables back in and solder(ed) the left side down: an afterimage of sparks still burning between us. Watched them slamming the lockers, clocking out. Fizz of the fire-punctured air. Holes in the cage big enough to. A collection of “residual ideologies” drains away as that window moves past

As if what didn't work more certainly exists and in its non or malfunctioning draws an inflamed attention to itself and (retained in the next stage as irritated memory “tissue”) stays frozen in that configuration in the harmonics—despite constant fixing, assurances, and the apparent lack of further problems—to be remembered as broke. Traces of “forgiveness” suspend even those most committed to solutions coming from outside the damaged set. Loosen that nut. “As if” among the elements. Voiceless. That cathedral of light—upside down—hangs precarious for an instant and (one story about where the time went not even half finished) a smiling sun-burnt couple apparently fall headfirst with it into emptiness; laughed off. Strained analogies the actual substance; you are right there is something wrong. Certain possibilities viscous in the adherence of what can feel like presence to what was abandoned once

Where the steady tick tick shifts attachments. Currents. Formant. Gradually old meanings rewired or cut off: the registered data. “I,” insisted on—(bodiless) (urgency) trying to call back. Longing to meet you. Crashing the memorial service. Waits for reappraisal, reassemblage, reactivation, running some tests on my own initiative. Under the unchanging light they insist on for their work. One goal to “feel better” than this. Each operation involves a series of delicate calculations taking both crisp untenanted future and soggy past into account. Constant expansions and contractions factored in in cracks and panics. Lights. But—complete silence—you'd hardly spend so much time in the shop if. What works sounds likes (laughter) and then I am myself also (trying to laugh). Come(s) to me. A field of inscription, some critical section falling to the oil-stained concrete floor with a defeated clank. Time for a smoke. Obscene, the organic aquiver in its saline bath. Recess(ed). They lift the thing out and look at it disgusted for a moment. Miss me? Gleaming lack of access or a pattern water might make on the underside of a bridge, allowed landscape. Damp eyes of the authorized mourners. Sheers past—that shimmer—on the wall as they throw it out. It. Something to think (about)

Broken for inspection, totally replaceable, every interchangeable part infinitely replicated among other variations. Up for sale, marked down, must go, amid the similar, assembled on the cheap. Under a section of foreign sky: pretty and desolate. The point likeness. Wind. Rustling through shreds of stained plans and lists. Available memory stumbles into the sunset filling in the blanks for the guests. Gratitude dissipates in a reflective surface tarnished to allusion—whose vanished breath. Shattered firmament or shattered glass. Philosophers in coveralls, nails broken and black, where ethics is craftsmanship. A sense of the past. No death now could move us. Burning off the residue of an interior attempted as time lag, evidenced as an effort to catch my. Escaping in that abruptly stifled bright laugh. Whose vacation was it? No death now could move us like


Laura Mullen is a Professor at Louisiana State University. She is the author of five books: three collections of poetry and two hybrid texts. She has been awarded a LSU Board of Regents ATLAS grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Octopus, 1913, New American Writing, Denver Quarterly, the Corpse, and elsewhere.