Anna Moschovakis

Anna Moschovakis


It began:

      1. Life is not fair
      2. How can I be happy while others suffer
      3. How can I not be happy while others suffer
      4. Others will suffer whether or not I am happy
      5. It is not the suffering of others that causes my happiness
      6. It is not the not-suffering of others that causes my unhappiness
      7. The not-suffering of others would not prevent my happiness

I have been attracted to the idea that naming is a form of violence
but does that mean we should go around calling everyone Hey You
which seems like another sort of violence
even though it is a way of recognizing the other
as other

What can be said on this point?


Ancient man, and we have ample evidence of this,
used to drive whole herds of animals over
cliffs when the individual beasts were too formidable
or too fast to handle

an admirable technique
with a dubious result

In 1755 Louis XV
assembled 13 hunters
for an 18-day excursion
Among them was a lady named
Princess Charlotte
who fired 9,010 shots
to the king's thousand

They returned with:
      19 stags
      18,243 hares
      10 foxes
      19,545 partridges
      9,499 pheasants
      114 larks
      353 quail
      454 “other birds”

for a total 48,237 killed

The carcasses came home in bags
the nobles came home drunk

I want to know about the “other birds”
were they species unknown to the hunters
or insignificant birds not worth noting by name
or mutilated
beyond recognition
by the Princess
an obviously staunch lady

Then there is the Jewish thinker Emmanuel Lévinas
who wrote about violence and the Other
who once reminded me of Emmanuel Béart
in her role as La Belle Noiseuse,
in which she is in the nude most of the time
an object for art
some would say violence

But think of noiseuse
and its origin
could be noire
or nuire, a verb meaning
or noise
and its uses

When I first saw the film I thought it meant hazelnut
but the French word for hazelnut is noisette, and noiseuse
it turns out is a person who likes
to pick a fight, a gadfly.

Emmanuel Lévinas was a gadfly, too
though not only when naked like Emmanuel Béart
and he didn't have “art” in his name like she does
he didn't have “philosophy” or “ethics” either
or even, or especially, “theology”

The theologians

(“The theologians” is an attractive phrase   sounds laughable but with an underbelly   like all my subjects)

(It also reminds me that the words “theology” and “logic”       are related by the root word, “log”      and that when I was young      a log was a bridge that got you safely      to the other side)

Man dies in excess but not
naturally for in all his genius
he is still to find a better way
to solve his differences
than that used by his ape<–>man

and so the log becomes a weapon
the weapon a float
to fight over

competition the spice of life
when I was young
I was a gadfly, too

there are no theologians in my family
my ancestors
held by a string
to the map


To master death does not simply mean
to remain one's master in the face of death

Tell this to the unnamed birds
creatures of appetite
fulfilled, death's
true masters
teaching men and princesses
to be gods

Or to the nameless Flemish painter
the Master of Winter Landscapes
and his countless paintings
called “Winter Landscape”
(or “In the Face of Death”)

Or should it be
Death as a Way of Life
the title of a book
published in hardcover
the year of my birth
nineteen-hundred seventy

six years before the country
turned 200 and my brother
got stitched
in his chin

In 1970 humans are listed
as the “only major factor”
in the endangerment of
the red uakari
bald uakari
black-headed uakari
and 39 other mammals, including
the pig-tailed langur
snow leopard
and giant armadillo

But hunters are not to blame for everything


We wonder at our shifting capacities, keep
adding and striking skills
from the bottoms of our résumés
under constant revision
like the inscriptions on tombs
shared for generations
unnervingly up
to date

Made nervous by our shift in capabilities, we write:

            I visited a country where kittens lay dying under every bench,
            in every gutter, next to every cigarette butt. One made me
            weep. Two made me worry. Three made me look away. I
            visited a city with very few strays. The first one I saw I
            adopted. What could it mean?

            —posted by Sarah. 6.18.06

Hit “publish” and look away.

The New Violence: I visited a country where
everything looked like home


There is a stag on the stage
played by a boy who likes
to dress like a girl. The hunter
pulls on his antlers, making him
cry. The audience explodes.

There is a bomb on the stage
where the boy takes revenge
undone, climbing the ropes to the rafters
peeing on the scrim

The hunter pisses her pants
before dying.
There is a stage on the stage
we know

My own chin was stitched
in 2004, by an Inuit girl
with bangs. A stitch in time, I thought
at her thick black braids

We know
we need to be sensitive
to the Other's right to kill

Let the Inuit hunt their whales, don't
pack bumper stickers
in the boxes of baseballs

The stage is a diamond
with home in one corner,
our corner, our sliver
of heaven

            I'm mad about shooting birds and animals. It's the nearest
            thing to heaven, in human terms, that I know.

            —Right Reverand David Cashman, Roman Catholic bishop, circa MXIII


In the 1850s a seven-shot “Victoria”
revolver cost $2.50.
Victory is cheap they say

            With seven bullets you could shoot a woman
            in both breasts, both ovaries, her vagina and clitoris
            with one bullet left for a target of choice

            Somebody may have done this
            or imagined it before

            I've imagined worse, and so have you.

            —posted by Rick. 6.19.06

Revenge is dear. Dear reader
don't take yours now


Man dies, that is nothing.

            when a woman sits on the edge of her bed, in front of a window, and lets down her red silken hair, threading it through her delicate fingers as it cascades in waves down her porcelain back, which reflects the moon's silvery mood, so that any man privileged enough to catch a glimpse of her falls directly to his knees, blind, lost, panting for breath, choking on words he can't pronounce, starving for familiar phrases he can no longer retrieve from their world of abstraction now that the real thing is manifest before him, so that he vomits up his lunch, his excellent breakfast, and the previous night's dinner, disgusted with anything he saw fit to consume before setting sight on this morsel of perfection, and lies there in half-crazed ecstasy for three days and three long nights, without food or water, his senses damaged to the point of extinction, until he is on the verge of death, and the moon's high silver has fallen to dust, and nobody can help him so nobody tries, and the woman is gone, and her hair is gone, and her porcelain back is gone, and her slender fingers, and even her image is gone, and still he has no regrets, and he welcomes death, invites it, knowing as he's never known anything before that his life wants for nothing
now that is something

            a sliver


An interesting question to ask here, I think, concerns the nature
of sentimentality. Is the man (read: person) that says, “Take down
the gallows!” essentially the same man who says,
“Thou shalt not kill beasts for kicks”?

We don't know yet. Generally, the hunter
tends to be more pragmatic than the anti-hunter.

Is the person (read: person) who sits in a chair
while another person (person) administers an injection
that causes the first person to slump over, blind, lost, panting for breath,
and vomit up lunch, breakfast, and the previous night's dinner,
with nobody to help and nobody trying,
until death emerges as a singular desire,
the only way out of a worsening situation
a heaven of its own
generally speaking less sentimental
than the (other) person who did the administering

and is that (other) person generally
more pragmatic and
less sentimental than the persons
who look away
or, while eating tonight's dinner,
at the TV?

The first reliable gramophone
the infamous Victor Victrola
won a patent war in 1901
and cost a great deal more than $2.50
even adjusting for a half-century of inflation

Music dearer than murder,
dearer than blood.


            What does grammar kill?

            —a poet, posted 6.20.06

my ancestors held by a string
to the map
in other words literal
beyond belief

Vladimir Illyich Lenin erected
a museum to atheism
inside a grand church
that has now been rehabilitated

So a museum can't kill a church
So atheists can't kill a church

We know
that the worship of science,
logic, art, law, political theory,
fresh fruit, philosophy, conversation,
Yosemite National Park, a woman's right
to stick to her plan, olives, justice, and
higher education

can't kill a church.

What can a grammar kill?

Death is the moment when time stops
Death is the moment when everything happens

a literal beyond
[ ] grammar
                        can kill [
                        ] time


What can a poem kill?

Bonnie Parker excelled at creative writing before her young husband was sent to jail
When she met Clyde Barrow, she had left her Shirley Temple impersonations behind
Although she was only 4'11' she could run with the best of them

(This is wrong but the right idea)

We want to know how to talk about that haunting first shot
and the haunting last shot

We know the story of Bonnie and Clyde
But we forget
It was Bonnie's poem
That killed Clyde's
Sexual Problem
It was Bonnie's lyric, narrative poem
That made him a man
That made him live
and let him die

That was in the film version
In the real-life version
Bonnie Parker may not have been nearly as cruel as in the film version
In the real version
Clyde Barrow may have been much crueler
Bonnie was as stylish as Faye but not as beautiful
Clyde was maybe not as dopey as Warren
Was the sex, when it happened, finally more awkward
in the real-life version
or in the film version?

No scene in the real version
could possibly live up to that haunting
first shot, that
haunting last shot


It is said that man experiences his world. What does that mean?
Man travels over the surface of things
And experiences them—
He wins—
What belongs to the things

            Things don't die. Why should you?

            Should you die for your family?
            For your gods and dreams? Should you die
            for smoking? Should you die for poetry?

(I'm not thinking hard enough
I'm not feeling hard enough. I've never closed
my fist against anyone)

            I can imagine a situation
            in which I would die for atheism,
            even if it weren't my own.

            Would I die for logic?
            If my death would make the world follow?

            Things don't follow—
            Would I die for that?

—            posted Sept. 12, 2006

We travel over things and experience them
We win—

Hey, Louis xv, what's the score?
Hey, staunch Princess, how come only
10 foxes came home in bags?

Do they hide in their holes for the sake of their name—

Do they work that hard
to live up to their