9 Types of Stupidity

One must be slightly stupid, she said 
in the portentous tone of a guru 

knowing perfectly well I mastered it when I was born 

and mastered it again 
twenty-odd years later, as I watched her eat an orange 
at the sink with her sleeves rolled up. 

Then again days later, dumbstruck by her nakedness. 

An elemental stupidity sweeps through the garret 
and the idiot inside of it, feeling tiny yet released 
in his copy of Pythagoras 

rot of Heraclitus, atoms of Democritus. 

Science and poetry are the same thing, you see— 
it exists outside the half-acre of the personality.  

As soon as it exists it wants to exist of more

How full are the deserts and forests anyway? 
How much stupid would I need to respond 

to even one family unit in transit, van

things spilled in aisles of a strip mall parking lot?  
The world can hold that much.  
Its children rampage naked, they assume their true forms. 

Children wild and nameless, as if they belong to no one 

everywhere occur bright orange. 
I see them on a Sunday afternoon playing tag, 
ratty scarves flying, there an excited holler if you hear 

their relationship to our world of inward sensation 

and impression, to the child of Wade and Amanda 
spilling oranges from a bowl on the counter. 

It felt cool as you lay your cheek there 

beside a Solo cup of amber rage. 
This was ages ago, in Seattle. 

Outside it rained a fine yet steady mist 

and I, apostle to the lower idiots, have relived it all 
autumn long. By that time I had already written “The Orange” 
on a fragment, shard of pot I found under our stoop 

its relationship to meaning contingent at best. The poem 

emerged, if at all, from a mulch 
of words, music out of sound, as a painting out of paints 
arrives by the kinetics of a live and stupid fire 

and one discovers the subject at hand

is at the center of another, larger subject
and that pursuit of it leads god knows where. 

By that time she is a person 

with scars all over, her back especially 
and even the TV pokes holes in our rational, gangster 

thesis—either it has meaning, or no meaning. 

The mind is luscious, in a jar 
infected by knowledge it must consider or be obliged to 
annihilate. It exists as a value in its own right 

in its own small vat of movable light 

or an ambulance I pitied on a gridlocked street 
in Chinatown: the cooks over pots in kitchens 
threw peels on the concrete floors 

and swept them toward the doors 

of a city with a past it rather wouldn't mention. 
One maybe a little closer to the truth 

if truth is wordless knowledge 

if truth is that which I can say before you without shame 
older, asleep during the day, head against my guitar's body 

feeling very empty and specific.



The artist's space.

Murder Two, Winter 2015

Crow Hollow Books

About the poems:

This poem is a kind of inventory of the years I lived in Seattle, way back when. It's trying to reclaim my mid-twenties stupidity—to which I owed everything—in its full range of meaning and potential: stupidity in the presence of others, but also as an aesthetic against systematic thought, as process (the making of art from materials, the artist’s preoccupation with doing so), as a force for decreation, and so on. It’s all still there; I sent the poem back to unlock it. The title is a little joke on William Empson’s book.

James Capozzi

Crow Hollow 19