“Is This Seat Taken?” I Don’t Understand the Question

“Is This Seat Taken?” I Don’t Understand the Question

“Is This Seat Taken?” I Don’t Understand the Question.
“Was there ever any doubt?” Below the knees.
“Can you forgive me?” I hardly even know you.
“Does it have meat in it?” I’m not at liberty to say.
“Am I going to be ok?” Yes and no.
“How long was I asleep?” That remains to be seen.
“Have you met my mother?” I won’t dignify that with an
answer.
“Do you love me?”
“Which would you prefer?” Long ago.
“Can you hear me?” In the pejorative sense.
“How do I know it’s really you?” Not exactly.
“Did you do the reading?” I do not love you.
“Swear on your life?” Swear on my life.
“Do you want to leave?” Little by little.

— Ben Lerner, author of The Lichtenberg Figures

T. S. Poetry

The Lichtenberg Figures, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award, is an unconventional sonnet sequence that interrogates the relationship between language and memory, violence and form. “Lichtenberg figures” are fern-like electrical patterns that can appear on (and quickly fade from) the bodies of people struck by lightning.

Throughout this playful and elegiac debut—with its flashes of autobiography, intellection, comedy, and critique—the vocabulary of academic theory collides with American slang and the idiom of the Old Testament meets the jargon of the Internet to display an eclectic sensibility.

Ben Lerner, the youngest poet ever published by Copper Canyon Press, is co-founder of No: a journal of the arts. He earned an MFA from Brown University and is currently a Fulbright scholar in Spain.

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