An open access publication of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Spring 2009

The New Lustration

Matthew Zapruder
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Matthew Zapruder is the author of two collections of poetry: American Linden (2002) and The Pajamaist (2006), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and one of the top ten poetry volumes of 2006 by Library Journal. German and Slovenian language editions of his poems are forthcoming from Luxbooks and Serpa Editions; Luxbooks is also publishing a German-language, graphic-novel version of “The Pajamaist.” An editor for Wave Books, Zapruder teaches in the low residency M.F.A. program at the University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert and at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2007 he was a Lannan Literary Fellow in Marfa, Texas. He lives in San Francisco. He is among the recipients of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’s Poetry Prize.

The New Lustration

© 2009 by Matthew Zapruder

Last night I heard faint music moving
up through the floor. The feeling
I could be one who falls asleep
and dreams some brave act
and wakes to actually do it
through me flapped, brief breeze
through a somnolent flag.
Across the room my cell phone
periodically shone a red light
indicating someone was failing
to reach me. Your body
kept barely lifting the sheet.
I think my late night thoughts
and feelings about my life compose
fine particles that drift far
from me nightly to settle
on apartment or office buildings.
Feel the heat and pulsation within.
A man sits in the Institute
of National Memory examining files.
They contain accounts of what
certain people believed other
more powerful people would want
to believe regular people
were choosing to do all through
the years that like terrible
ordinary babies one after another
crawled, grasping daily acts
and placing them into these files
anyone now can hold. Read
about the life of the great
ordinary Citizen Z. How
he attended funerals and horrible
boring literary parties, aging
and thinking of his anonymity
and writing journals he later
felt he must destroy, and calmly
against his will meeting in hotel bars
with the sad men who asked
questions that along
with the answers would end
in these yellow files. Each
has a label marked with three
or four obscure numbers
followed by a dash followed by
three initials. Europe you had your time.
Now it is ours to drag everyone into
a totally ghost free 21st century whiteness.