Artists of facebook: Mateo Galvano

by Jeff McMahon on February 13, 2011

Mateo Galvano (photo by Tracie Van Auken)

Mateo Galvano (photo by Tracie Van Auken)

Facebook has become a social net-cessity, like the telephone, like politeness, like brushing the crumbs from your beard, but it has not yet become an invisible necessity. We’re conscious of it: we’re not sure whether we’re using it correctly, whether it’s a benefit or a cost, whether it’s a fad, like the CB radio was in the 1970s. Is this something we’ll have to confess later, when it’s over, like leisure suits with wide lapels?

And when we see a facebook friend in meatspace, in the physical world, do we mention facebook or not ? Only passingly, with eyes askance, as if that all happened while we were drunk.

Our participation in so unstable a necessity embarrasses us, so we mock it.

But we still turn to it every day. We stare at the stream of updates—relationship laments, thrilling quotations, daily disappointments and quotidian triumphs— click like and comment.

And then every once in a while we find something passing in the stream that makes us want to click love:

i will paint every moment of your perfect skin blue with words. when you are waiting for the next caress of the brush, you will be my little goosebump, and will hum an ancient song under your breath like the song of insects in the heat of summer. when i am finished with you and you are utterly blanketed with every word like a cloud of delight, you’ll walk in the garden in the middle of the night.

This comes from my facebook friend Mateo Galvano, an early master of the 420-character prose poem. Mateo produces such wonders throughout each day. They arrive on the stream of updates like origami clipper ships, full sails, no anchor:

i will bear witness to the impossibly black book of this ocean, attempting an archive of its feral, unfathomable mutations. i will read every day its pages of gibberish, divine its tempestuous surf that speaks in tongues of blood and brine, decipher the ink of it, the chthonic febrile dream of it.

I’ll often check facebook on the bus, on the feeble browser on the tiny screen of my Samsung Mantra flip phone. Outside the greasy windows is a battleworn city: whole blocks still in ruins from the inferno of the Martin Luther King riots, boarded-up burnt-out storefronts or the bright lures of fast food restaurants poisoning an unwanted population, bands of black-clad paramilitary police with automatic rifles holding down the lid.

Here there can be no faith in humanity, until, against that urban apocalypse, arrives Mateo Galvano:

give to me a month of stones. live for me the marbles of your teeth, the tongue of your serpent. love for me the eyes of your venom, the ice of forgetfulness. express from me the extra blood, the kiss and succor of your wet nights, the moistened fabric of your skin. take from me the last of the money; i won’t need it where i go

With her usual inequality, nature gave Mateo not only a silver tongue but a golden eye. You can follow his words and photographs at his artist page, friend him at his personal page, or follow his new blog.

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