Jennifer Scappettone
Poetry, Gossip, Infrastructure               (page 3)

It was gossip that led me a few years ago to start researching the nature, circulation, and afterlife of waste. Gossip about the approximately 30 million gallons of oil under my apartment in Brooklyn, residue of a spill bigger than that of Exxon-Valdez, in an explosion that blew Greenpoint’s manhole covers out of their asphalts. Gossip about the tower reading “Cerro Wire” hovering like a mute minaret in the center of the Superfund site across the street from the house I grew up in. Gossip about the punctured high chain link fence around the slough next door to my elementary school, about why they were closing the poorly bounded Kindergarten down the hill from my house the year I left for college. Gossip surrounding the cancer cluster in which I lived out nubility. Gossip about the bodies and then the lawsuits that rebreached the closed landfill at Fresh Kills, New York, in the wake of 9/11. Gossip that stays gossip instead of news because the facts are incompletely virtual yet too dreadful to be spoken out of the bodies of those subjected. Because the irony, for example, that the family who give their name to the illustrious postmodern theater shell of one's current metropolis and to a starchitecture prize, and stingingly to the Medical Center at the site of one's current employment, built these institutions by turning “troubled companies” halfway across the continent, across one's street, “loose”—to cite the patriarch in the Wall Street Journal for March 1975, “We think that loosening it up will make people there feel better and perform better, too”—would be too unseemly even for an American public.

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