This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features a poem by Joe Hall. 

Author note: In every city, people who occupy positions of power in systems that relieve them of accountability are using that power in the worst ways. In a small city like Buffalo, it’s easy for these people to hide or be forgotten. So I’m writing (and performing in Buffalo) this ongoing poem to remember these awful people. In this poem, some of these people redirect their violence towards themselves. It’s ugly, cartoonish, and ethically unimaginative. Still, I want to keep this register for Buffalo so it might hover like a fly around the myth of a city-wide “resurgence.”


from People Finder, Buffalo 


can’t dream the economy because is good they might repo the economy your bed
is good can’t dream because the economy is they might repo your good dreams they
economy is can’t dream because you good the had the bad to get a second economy
to make rent the

that the body dream can be free—where all economies somebody
are free—the common, common
in that freedom, economy communion only dream in that
repo freedom in that freedom repo could only be—



Carl P, Ki Ki, hangs at J.T’s fungus
mouth, J.T.’s normy horror
value cube urban slash J.T.’s Carl Paladino hangs out at
the dismal horizon of stage 4 Italian gentroids
you can. you can. 905 Elmwood. barfight.



Tim Howard arrests Tim Howard for murder
and spends the night looking the other other way
as Tim Howard knocks Tim Howard’s head against
the hardness of the Erie County holding center
whispering, murderer, murderer, murderer.



The Allentown Association finds Allentown too queer, trans, butch,
and nonbinary and lodges a zoning complaint to evict
Allentown from Allentown so Allentown can quietly
be plaque in a dead, appropriately affluent organ.



Officer Tedesco stops Officer McAlister outside of
his house in Kenmore, his house from
which an American flag flies with one blue bar.
Officer Tedesco demands Officer McAlister
stop and show him his hands.
Officer Tedesco then beats Officer McAlister within
an inch of his life so Officer Parisi, who
was circling Mang Park, steps out
of his vehicle and shoots
Officer Tedesco 38 times.
Officers Parisi & McAlister write a false report at the station.
Officer Tedesco files a false report in hell.
Narcotics detective Joseph Cook, during a drunk
no-knock raid on the police station, stumbles and kills officers
Parisi & Tedesco. They are all thrown
a parade by the Minister of Flies.
All the people come to lick their shining leather
while the chief of police reads collaborative fiction.



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).



[1] Buffalo Police Officer Justin Tedesco open fired on and killed Jose Hernandez-Rossy as he fled. Hernandez-Rossy was unarmed. Read more

Officers McAlister and Parisi killed Wardel Davis after an unwarranted stop. Read more.

Narcotics detective Joseph Cook “was single-handedly responsible for more dog deaths than all the reported incidents in New York City in 2011-2012 alone.” Over one three year stretch Cook shot and killed 25 dogs. Read more