Poems and Texts

The Replication Machine by Erika Meitner

Erika Meitner & Philip Metres
Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 8:00 pm

The Replication Machine

Hillary, I miss taxis at night—do people still use them, or is it all Uber and Lyft?

The way their yellow bodies shush down Houston or Broadway especially in the rain and you raise your hand and there’s one sidling up next to you open and ready to take you nowhere predetermined with their lighted hats of ads perched jauntily on top at your service

I also miss my unlimited MetroCard, though pushing through turnstiles with my hips never had the same slick caché as sliding across a backseat then telling the driver an intersection, and was often hard to swipe when drunk, but I loved its lack of accountability and the fact that my final destination was a mystery sometimes even to me

In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Walter Benjamin talks about Eugène Atget’s photos of deserted Paris streets—that he photographed them like scenes of crimes, for the purpose of establishing evidence

I’m positive the whole alcohol-soaked photographic tour you sent me last night of your walk from the Lower East Side to the West Village was not a crime, but I loved seeing that woman in the tight white cocktail dress and heels in a fluorescent pizza parlor eating a slice standing up from here in my perch in the Blue Ridge mountains at 1 a.m.

And I also loved the animated red-headed dude in the cheetah print overalls with no shirt underneath talking to you in the video with no sound

The photo of the Weed World truck parked on the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette

The pic of you with your THC lollipop

I’m going to say this though it makes me sound old AF: back before Y2K we didn’t have this technology (obviously)

The best evidence we could gather from a hard night of drinking was a body next to us in the morning (or not)

“The city is a huge monastery,” said Erasmus

There’s the corner of Washington Square, Broadway and Mercer, the Water-Soda-Chicken-Kebab-Hot-Dog-Truck on video playing street music I can’t name in a language I can’t decipher—maybe Arabic disco or Spanish rap

In the last frame you sent, tail and brake lights of cabs shine extra bright with halos flaring red as lips or emergency flashers, a cluster of want and accidents

An aura is a unique phenomenon of distance (Benjamin again)

You are far away and I am a beholder—one who beholds

We all have a desire to bring things closer

The photo leaves its locale to be received in the studio of a friend, a lover, a stranger, whomever

Don’t we all have auras / halos / glares that obscure the thing beneath, our outlines & shapes

Don’t we all have imperceptible apertures where the light gets in

first appeared in Southern Indiana Review 25.1 (Spring 2018)

Erika Meitner

Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Ideal Cities (Harper Perennial, 2010)—a 2009 National Poetry Series winner; Copia (BOA Editions, 2014); and Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in poetry and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, and elsewhere. Meitner is currently an associate professor of English and the creative writing programs director at Virginia Tech.

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