Paul Thek, Our Contemporary

The micro-management of meat 
Under glass mistakes for orifices
Crises the sun where your eyes

Should have been because the dead
Are genderless because no one
Needed to know what's under the hood

Fingerless they can't i.d. you
Underground man hippie fingers
Are like little dicks you make of 

Yourself a mask to hide within
Things to hide within the world
Abandoned to it like a tomb.

Some spaces distribute
The body in time was
Wax the body in space
Was a cast unsalvageable
Because no one wants 
A masterpiece to be
A crypt of what we will 
Have been a difference
Pink makes on your skin.

We cope this risk is an 
Answer to the flesh
Anyone's analytic 
Of the sublime

Any body's tomb
With whom do you 
Identify who will 
Not answer to 'me'?

Where bones are laid
To rest who will manage 
The dead and those 
Who cannot die

I am trying to tell
You something but am
Afraid the power of 
Flesh overpowers me

The powers of reliquary 
Do not remember me
Every name in history 
How do we distribute 

Petal pink makes 
Malthus blush others
Do the math what you 
Encase like head space

Thek the headless
Always our contemporary 
Our savage contemporary 
Tongue-ring sticks out 
From missing prints 
Pharaohs abscond 
From historical sense 
The sense of headlessness

Makes a tomb in the public 
Pinko of the real 
When fascism flares up 
Your art withdraws.

That we are meat 
And worship the fact 
That God is also meat
A formal feeling comes

We call it a technology 
Of the self remember
What we have become 
A prayer to blood

A prayer to fake
Blood the mannerist 
Sun still winking like 
A hole that doesn't 

Stink what totality 
Doesn't stink of men 
Mimics monuments re-
fuses to delay in glass


Thom Donovan lives in New York City where he edits Wild Horses of Fire weblog ( 
and coedits ON Contemporary Practice. He is a participant in the Nonsite Collective and a curator 
for the SEGUE reading series. His criticism and poetry have been published widely in BOMB, 
PAJ: performance + art, Modern Painters, The Brooklyn Rail, and at the Poetry Foundation's Harriet 
blog. Currently he is working on a book of essay, reviews, and statements, Sovereignty and 
US: Critical Objects 2005-2010, and on the Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior (with 
Sreshta Rit Premnath). His seventh book of poetry, The Hole, is forthcoming with Displaced Press 
this autumn. Donovan teaches at School of Visual Arts and Bard College and holds a PH.D. in 
English literature from SUNY-Buffalo.