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"With the disappearing of the soul the lived body is exiled."

Sonnets by John Lowther


by John Lowther

Stubborn, persevering, impenetrable as stone, yet possessing the malleability that renders us unbreakable.
Men are so necessarily mad that it would be another twist of madness not to be mad.
More gruesome film clips, and more puzzled intellectuals declaring their mystification over the systematic murder of millions.
I want us to gaze each other until we desubjectivate violently.
To long for the good and feel its absence, picking apart, historicizing, drowning in the weight of phenomena, and tripping on content.


Wherever the war on drugs touches down, death and destruction result.
Over-priced and shitty tasting seems to be a popular product niche around here.
Just watched a guy get through airport security with a full bottle of Captain Morgan.
Remember, it’s always the cameraman who grows old, never the star.
As the fetus emerged as a person, the pregnant woman began literally to disappear from view.
My husband, as police chief, makes sure that his department has a good supply of clean teddy bears in stock at all times.
We need to debate killer robot ethics before they become mass market.


That that exists exists in that that that that exists exists in.
I took a walk in the cemetery to help me realize that.
Did not hear the report, only the bullet slowing down and tumbling.

Laws are inherited like diseases.
A good consumer is an insecure consumer.
Prisons aren’t safe for anybody.
Bye-bye, mutually supportive coalition politics; hello, civil war.
Take me to your slums.

As soon as it’s allowed all oil companies will flock.
If I say neoliberalism he acts like I said extraterrestrials.
Old and young, we are being worked over every day.


Be a dignified victim.
Never safe, never equal.
There are no counterexamples.
I learned in very immediate ways that fear is only one of many palpably violent consequences of a vast sea of heterosexual prescriptions.
Absolutely agree with previous.
And addictive, metaphysical hurt.
Natural or man made.
The meaning of litura (deletion) can still be found in the obsolete English verb of “to liturate,” i.e., to blot out, to erase.
Murder calls for murder.
Maybe I mean action.
What I claim is to live to the full the contradictions of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.


With the disappearing of the soul the lived body is exiled.
Stepping on a scale can be a humiliating experience, but with the Weight Talker II, it’s a humiliating experience narrated by a disappointed robot.
The body is to be compared, not to a physical object, but rather to a work of art.
And the weird thing is your body wants to die.
The languages of death are always gagging and occluding the languages of the body.
But your booty don’t need explaining.

Note on the Text

555 is a collection of sonnets whose construction is database-driven and relies on text analytic software. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets to arrive at averages for word, syllable and letter which became measures for three groups of sonnets. All lines are found material, thus typographical oddities abound. Values for word, syllable and letter were calculated for each. Line selection isn’t rule-driven and though I have tried to be expansive, it inevitably reflects what I read, watch, listen to, and thus my slurs and my passions, what amuses or disturbs. Sonnets are assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes; by ear, notion, or loose association; by tense, lexis, tone or alliteration.

John Lowther’s work appears in The Lattice Inside: An Atlanta Poets Group Anthology (UNO Press, 2012) and in 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. Other sonnets from 555 have appeared or are forthcoming in altpoetics, Cartagena, Futures Trading, The Gambler, Moss Trill, Otoliths, Unlikely Stories and Uut. He’s writing a dissertation to re-imagine psychoanalysis had intersex and transgender lives been taken as foundational for understanding subjective possibility.

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us as

To submit to Poets Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document. Expect a response within two months (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions). Submissions not following the guidelines may or may not receive a response.

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

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