John Lowther

Eleven Sonnets from 555

Nastiness in the transcendent position.
Find the disciple and eliminate.
Loneliness is different from aloneness.
This is malicious fecal distribution.
That’s what complicates this analysis.
Complexity means being forced to select; being forced to select means contingency;
               and contingency means risk.
The image that I had was of a foam-encased mallet banging on simulated dirt.
One treading water is more likely to allow a walk-in take over.
This is all part of the game, like queer theory.
I master nothing, I submit to the oracles.
It was never about me, baby.
Go hard or go home.
I'm a thousand different people.


I am obstinate, I disappear.
Don’t disturb my angry withdrawal.
Strange things grow in the folds.
Some went mad, some ran away.
Too much happened in a short time.
There is a stranger living in me.
A talent is a large sum of money.
If they don't need poetry, bully for them.
There is no agreement on what the term means.
The issue, still, is how to break this pattern.
I am plagued like Job, though not so God-fearing.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
               and makes us more alive than the others.


The super-rich have seceded from America even as their grip on its control mechanisms has tightened.
Depression is the shadow side of entrepreneurial culture, what happens when magical voluntarism
               confronts limited opportunities.
But what’s ultimately going to change things is dismantling the board of directors, not reconstituting it.
You are wearing a very well-tailored person suit.
The awakening is one of my old refrains.
The final purpose of the human race is a leisurely life of contemplation and celebration, in a society
               that delegates work to machines and enables its members to live a cheerful life of playful
               and creative communication.


One day I was born.
I am sorry but unless you post a picture of yourself, I won't believe you're better looking than Jude Law
               or even Matt Damon for that matter.
This is the kill switch.
There would be, in other words, a rule to follow, but that rule would be so hidden that "beginnings and
               endings" would not call attention to themselves.
My lips are the gun.
Although artists may not have the answers to the ethical questions that their artworks raise, they do
               provide a space for reflection and dialogue regarding these issues.
Fuck all the way off.


It is scolding, couched as an appeal to goodness, in the name of an absent authority.
You can, and will, win the asphalt.

The void is what bounds the inconceivable, and thereby forecloses itself from any other relation,
               including its self-identity.
Someone else, like us, sang a song.

Every object has an identity object, it tells the object, ‘Hello, you are me.’
Here, we find a perfect expression of the new mental hygiene movement.

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
That universality does not imply existence, we sweep aside every day.


The point is double: to seek to open up understanding the relation between conventional patterns
               of desire and the way they are managed by norms, and to focus on patterns of attachment
               we hadn’t even yet known to notice, patterns in which sexuality and intimacy are enacted
               in a broad field of social relations that anchor us to life.
Just relax and let me drain that for you.
And good, too.
Four hours.
The basement too.
You get the idea.
Just some Grindr idiot.
No one will improve your lot if you do not yourself.
You can’t say “happiness” without “penis.”


Barely scraping by and taking what you can get is the new normal.
I also do not suggest that people are directly comparable to animals.
It is a relaxation within the framework of an already established standard.
Whether chicken and fish are vegetables is not just a semantic issue.
Under capitalism, most people’s lives are laced with contradictions.
Whereas with philosophy, we’re generally told what to think.
Time-saving technology has made time more scarce than ever.
Social health is mildly depressive — except for holidays.
The alternative is too disturbing to contemplate.
The person to the left of you is fucked.


God, someone get this guy a clue by four.
Mysticism is philosophy without patience.
Only one man ever understood me, and he didn't understand me.
In the name of sanity, he finally put a stop to it.

Whoever enters here will pay me an honor; whoever does not—a pleasure.
The familiarity of incoherence can become a way of denying it.
Barbie is an action figure.
The question ‘What are you becoming?’ is particularly stupid.

Ultimately, the correspondences are too numerous to be ignored.
The counterfactual life wins yet again.
They just took whatever seemed inappropriate.
Marketing now extends into the unconscious.


Here is a word we have used.
Thank you so much for that introduction.
I use the word ‘relatively’ quite deliberately.
People don't care if you're happy and fat.

Maybe it would have been better if neither of us had been born.
Sudden moment of existential dread, wondering if I am myself a 4chan creation.
Because my dress isn’t butt-tight, faith alone holds together the cleavages of existence.
Single vision produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters.
Not me.
Perhaps we are about to remember again the forgotten celebrating.

Fuck, it's time to work.
Exactly like a prostitute.


I'll make you love me if I have to break every bone in your body.
He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog.
It takes a real man to let a rodent live on his face.
Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.
I have a problem and I'm out of my depth.
I can't get in the mind of that dog.
He has to get the same as me.
I did the same thing he did.
It is easy to see why.
I can't give it up.
Not yet.


Suicide is career gold for the poet.
Because the bees are dead and so are we.
I would love to finish with them.

Maybe this one needs to be rethought a bit.
Fucking tuxedo mask, white knight characters I swear.
That sort of obtuseness defined much of the debate.

People are too durable, that's their main trouble.
It’s very nice to say that the slave’s servitude is brimming with the whole future right up to
               absolute knowledge, but politically this means that till the end of time the slave will remain
               a slave.
This is the random scribble of a melancholic.


A note on the text from J.L.: "These 555 sonnets are made with found lines and precise measures, a database and text analytic software. I crunched Shakespeare’s sonnets for word, syllable and character averages — my new measures. The lines oddities are theirs, their arrangement is mine. After the text analytics and data entry is done, myriad ways of assembling are found. I hold to the turn (when I think of it) and that sonnets are poems of a certain size, but little more. Something in excess of the lines pass through, it’s this that I’m chasing."

John Lowther’s work appears in the anthologies, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink in 2015. John works in video, photography, paint and performance. He’s writing a dissertation to reimagine psychoanalysis as grounded in the lives of intersex and transgender people so as to broaden our appreciation of subjective possibility.
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