Two poems — Rachel Nagelberg

Do Androids Dream of Dick?

I participate in the illusion  I have a
credit card  I buy mostly organic  I’m
paying back my student loans  some
nights I experience  gaps  in the artifice—
my pupils dilate  my belly shakes  ( my
nervous system revs its engine )  and
the pretense wavers  like  a jellyfish
disappearing into  dark waters  and
what I’m left with is  a hollow terror
( like Caleb in Ex Machina  when he
attempts to reveal a machine beneath
his skin  failing
1 ) there is  this idea
that if you think about  yourself as
already dead  then you stop seeing
yourself as a  victim of life  that is to say
what is hidden beneath the seeming
is not necessarily  the secret  consider
the way a  sentence is false  we can
say one thing and  be another  this
is the failure of  materiality  this
is the expression of  art — telling
the story of its own failures

1 the opposite of Oz



The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of
Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream
of returning to dust.

—Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”

there is a structure  we are taught to see  more Real than
God  just as we  contemplate the body as stationary—
our organs as  throbbing chunks  suspended in muscle
and blood  ( bone scaffolding  tissue insulation )  what
then is a disease  but an intruder?  on the contrary  a
house can grow  black mold just as  a Garden  grows
humans  is the root of alienation  then  an  anatomical
issue?  my craniosacral-chiropractor  shifts my  uterus
aside  there is a sense of urgency  innate to  sickness
similar to  poetry  I’m having a hard time translating  I tell
him  my speech is filled with  gaps  if survival depends
on letting go of nostalgia  then  what will our  organs
hold onto?  we are in need of a  new language  a  de-
colonization of  origins  a new  myth of creation  ( is
that not what the Internet is?  a non-corporeal  map
of power  an  incomprehensible  mass  identity )  just
embrace the machine  and you will be  “realized”
2  or
perhaps  first a  hydrogen bomb  will  shoot our minds
back up  to the stars  to stay on Earth  is to  disappear
the soil doesn’t feel like it used to  the city expands and
contracts like a  spent lung propelling the network forward

2 in the sense of Peggy Blumquist’s ideology in Fargo Season 2


Rachel Nagelberg is an American novelist, poet, and conceptual artist living in Los Angeles. Her debut novel, The Fifth Wall, is forthcoming from Black Sparrow Books in April.