We're Living in Closets Full of Snow
“It’s like drilling for oil,” Sam tells me
He’s shoveling snow
And still wearing those therapy pajamas
With the bottom part of the pants cut
It’s bitter cold out here
Like something out of Game of Thrones
But Sam likes getting frostbite
Says it makes him feel alive
That the freezing of body tissues
Reminds him that he still has a body
And that’s all you can really ask for these days
The backyard is full of glow-in-the-dark junk
A lawn sprinkler douses us in bare-knuckled bourbon
And bruises my spirit but not Sam’s
He has shoveled three times so far tonight
Convinced that there are Vitamin D supplements
Buried under the snow he tells me that happiness
Flashes suddenly and is gone like how when you fall asleep
In the Rust Belt and there’s no snow but then you wake up
And see that some blizzard painted the ground with its tears
While you were dreaming and Sam dreams a lot
Like he’s Edgar Cayce or something, a lot of times he dreams
Of this small town graveyard full of television sets
And they’re all tuned in to a live coverage
Of dead men’s stag parties he tells me that testosterone
Is leaving this land but that might be a good thing
He yells at me for falling in love with the same kind of girl
The kind that feels the urge to jump off a bridge all the time
The kind that will probably get postpartum depression
I tell him he’s being sexist and Sam tells me I’m probably right
Sometimes Sam shovels even when there isn’t any snow
One day I’ll cut bathtubs out of his eyes and soak in his speakeasies
Of sadness and together we’ll hold hands and jump off a bridge
We might be fuck-ups but at least we’re not douchebags
And that’s pretty important, to still give a shit
To still think there’s happiness out there somewhere
'We're Living in Closets Full of Snow' first appeared in Zombie Logic Review.
This Is How You Shed Your Baggage, This Is How You Kill Your Ghosts
It’s 12:59 a.m. and I find myself in the middle
Of a ghostly AA meeting, surrounded by writers
Who drank themselves to death, just like I’m trying to do.
Tennessee Williams is here and petting my cat
And talking about the thermostat. You bottled yourself up
So much, I tell him, that your corpse might as well have been
A ship in a bottle, but life isn’t about transforming yourself
Into a ship made of rage that sails across an ocean
Of glass. You’ll just end up cutting your suppressed body open
For all the world to see and even you’ll be shocked
At what’s left behind, when feisty barnacles
Turn your bones into spacious lofts.
Dylan Thomas is here and playing with a flashlight
And missing the greenness of his childhood. You let NYC
Eat you alive, I tell him, like a hipster hopped up on
Fair trade passion. The problem will always be
Our broken idea of fairness. Your problem was death,
How drinking turned your eyes into Ouija boards
And you convinced yourself that whiskey
Was the bridge that connected you to the other side
Where fairies in black negligees seduced you with magic
Until you forgot all about the unimaginative music
Of day-to-day living. I don’t blame you.
Then there’s Dorothy Parker pointing out the wisecracks
In my walls and telling me my foundation is falling apart,
But I should still have fun. You’re the only lover
I’ve ever wanted, I tell her, somebody strong enough
To pull sleds of sarcasm through blizzards of indifference,
But sometimes the weight of boredom was too much,
Even for you, and fate pushed you in a diamond-studded wheelchair
From bastard to bastard, until you overdosed on Algonquin dust,
When time lobotomized you because you were so out of it.
I think I’m in love with you, I tell her, and she just laughs
And tells me I’m not ruthless enough. I assure her
That I will be one day, that her heart better have eyes
In the back of its head, because I’m coming for her.
Kerouac is in the corner crying about America,
How these days you can’t just pick up and go
And wondering how the hell you find yourself
When every space is occupied by someone else.
You tell him that nowadays the only way a heart
Bleeds with passion is if it becomes a hemorrhage,
Because it takes all of your stopwatch strength
To find the thing that makes you tick
And sometimes you have to sit still and wait
For the angels of mangled mercy to show you
How beautiful the world really is, for them to lift you up
By your eyebrows forcing you to see life differently,
Because there are only so many times you can zigzag
Across the country leaving behind trails of watered-down blood.
What you care about most should never be diluted, I tell him,
But the modern world moves too fast and I pity the still-life painters
Who can’t keep up. Your problem, I tell him, was you kept up
And the fastness tore you apart.
Faulkner is just trying to get away from it all.
You tell him that black lives matter
And his eyes try to apologize. The Civil War,
I tell him, is still going on. It’s nothing to romanticize.
The country has spent centuries trying to exorcise
Those Confederate cavalry ghosts still stampeding
Through backwater towns, still burning crosses
On prom night, when Southern Belles deflower themselves
In gardens of empty Eden, when hellfire snakes slither onto their feet
To turn on the TV between their legs and show them the news,
That the world is still a very cruel place,
That teenagers are being shot dead in urban sprawls
While the memory of your forefathers is knitting you a dress
To wear on your wedding day. It doesn’t matter how much scotch
You can drink or how you can manipulate language
To demonster the past, because at the end of the day,
When the moonlight writes police blotters, it’s very clear
That the past is still a monster, that it still has its teeth,
That it’s still ready to bite down on progress
And swallow it whole. You tried, I tell him,
And maybe that’s the best any of us can hope for.
Faulkner’s tears are interrupted by Fitzgerald
Confessing his love for Zelda
And wondering where she is.
I tell him she’s probably in the arms
Of another man, maybe another artist,
But someone not nearly as talented,
That he can still keep a shred of his pride
And he starts banging his head
On my Urban Outfitters record player
Trying to make sense of a woman’s jazz.
I tell him that sometimes all you can do
Is just listen and enjoy. Don’t get too invested,
Because when you flap in the wind and try to fly,
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a middle of a hurricane,
That maybe it’s best to seek shelter somewhere safe
And wait for it to all blow over, that there will always be someone else
Who’ll whisper the words that seem right, especially on beds
Of undiagnosed psychosis, but words that seem right
Aren’t necessarily the gospel truth. You’re a fool, I tell him,
For falling for it over and over again, but I understand
The appeal all too well.
Suddenly Hemingway bursts into my living room
Yelling about us being cowards and weaklings
Who give up the fight when war is just about to be declared,
That we need to write the truest sentence that we know,
That we shouldn’t let falseness miscarry it into oblivion,
Then he grabs a double-barreled shotgun
And starts complaining about elephant migraines.
He tries to poach himself, but it doesn’t work.
Not this time, at least. He looks me straight
In the eye and asks me what the fuck I’m doing
With my life. You should talk, I tell him, because of you,
All of American literature has been mansplained to death.
Now no one can write. All these dead writers
Have a point, have forced me to rethink how I’ve been living my life.
I feel myself being swept up in their anxiety of influence
And I can’t have that, not anymore. I want to grab my iPhone
And text any of exes, let them know that I’m finally losing my mind,
That whatever they did to me is finally getting the best of me,
That I’m ready for any of them to colonize my independence,
That I’m ready to be a ship in a bottle, because I’m finding it tough
To find an ocean of greenness where I can plant my roots and grow,
Where my wisecracking flowers can rise from the serious dirt
And pierce the sky with sweet-smelling hemorrhages – oh, I’m so tired
Of mansplaining to the mirror, of telling my reflection that my misplaced anger
Is honest and true – oh, I’m so tired of ignoring the lovesome jazz I hear
When I’m lonely at night, when I’m rolling around in beds of poachers
Who hang my orgasms on their walls like elephant skulls when I’m dead
And gone. Enough is enough! I bash my iPhone on the coffee table
Until there are a billion little Graham Bells chiming in my ears. From now on,
There will only be missed connections. From now on, I’m on my own.
I run around my apartment, gather every book I can find,
And throw them in a garbage bag. I go outside and dump the bag
Into a garbage can. I get some gasoline and pour it into the can.
I light a cigarette and throw in the match. An entire literary history
Goes up in flames and I couldn’t be any happier. I look up at the moon
And finally understand its craters, what they mean, and maybe, just maybe,
It’s up to you to fill the emptiness all around you, with your own words,
With your own thoughts, with your own demons. You must shed your baggage,
No matter how beautiful it might be, no matter how thought-provoking.