I’m about to reach max saturation Turn completely spherical Leave a slug trail when I roll
At first it’s frightening Feeling more and less of different intervals and levels
Then it’s exhausting and awful Then you get used to it
Still I bet you this One day you’re out somewhere maybe the park You bump into someone you haven’t seen in awhile Between the how longs and now what’s they say something Maybe the time you puked in geography Or marital problems Or trees smell like antique cardboard
When you roughed up the snake charmer you forgot about the snake and got bit. Don’t worry I will bring a hammer. When I get there I will bring the hammer down. For now keep one eye on the snake and one eye on your swelling venom filled blood vessels. Today started with such up-tempo preparation drinking coffee standing up thinking you could walk into anywhere and talk them into hiring you full time, thinking you were headed towards an X marked treasure chest. Soon after, the day revealed its inability to send positive plotlines your way. I even heard 911 left a voicemail message word for word imitating a voicemail message you left them proving you are a cotton candy brain. You’ve probably got soft fluffy bunnies in your picture book. I get bundled up indoors and go outdoors. One week into January I am disintegrated and reconstructed into a bag of frozen vegetables. I cartwheel over moving traffic headed your way. When I get there you are dead and the snake is gone. The charmer sees the snake in his dreams.
Mostly we are waiting For whatever crumb From the table of grief Has lodged itself into tonight’s parade Of mashing buttons and gnashing teeth To name itself then disappear
I get the sticky controller That Mac spilled a Natty on in August And am stuck jumping the whole game But still beat Chris Who’s almost a year behind in practice And refuses to choose any character but random
I’m high as balls and my cousin is doing 90 around the f-zero highways I’m a little worried cuz he’s really ripping the pen but His tolerance is way higher than mine which also worries me but in a way less immediate way
the drunken mess of my little brother dragging him home in the night away from the party he had become militantly comical screaming in the faces of other party guests and laughing in a strangely glottal way i had never really heard from him before his breath humid with beer and wet cigarette butts his torn military jacket faded
My Tupperware™ container of used batteries is a constant source of anxiety I’ve been putting batteries in it because they aren’t supposed to go in the garbage, but the container is almost full now
I think they can be dropped off at City Hall or a school—some sort of institution, an institution where they have the solutions to these kinds of problems Unfortunately, I haven’t been to any institutions lately I serve no institutional purpose; I have no institutional knowledge
When the time comes, I’ll probably just dump the batteries in the garbage Or maybe I’ll recycle them Yeah Putting batteries in the blue recycling bin almost seems eco-conscious But if batteries don’t belong in either the garbage can or the recycling bin, is one choice better than the other? Is one decision less destructive? There is something to be learned here of intent
I guess I could try the composter— try composting the batteries for a million years Maybe Green Peace would laud my dedication; an NGO committed to keeping batteries out of landfills would be founded in my name
Let’s be real, though When I inevitably throw the batteries in the trash, They will meet their landfill fate They will marinate in the soil; their acid will mix with Earth
But until then, I’ll feel good just having them right here in the Tupperware™ container on my table It’s like I’m saving the world a little
Have you heard about the great bristlecone pine? It’s the oldest living thing It can grow to be, like, 5,000 years old That’s what it felt like when I met her Like something 5,000 years old was suddenly alive
I said, “Describe his apartment for me”
I was a detective of depressing facts You were a criminal of nothing You told me you’d hooked up with him, and I thought you were joking
I said, “Describe his apartment for me.” And you said, “He has these shitty leather couches.” That’s when I knew you were telling the truth
I have this special power random people give me free food
This lady I was sitting next to at the bar ordered chili cheese fries She did not seem like someone who ordered chili cheese fries. She looked to be around 40 and took care of herself perfect white teeth She asked me if I wanted some of the fries
I said yes and she asked the bartender for another fork. She asked if it was weird sharing her food with me
My friend and I laughed and said it happens all the time.
The fries between us. I poked them with a fork and took a bite. Got drunker talked
in walks the biggest douche bag in the world Alone, wearing designer clothes and a big diamond watch
The biggest douchebag in the world sat up at the bar next to my friend. ordered wine, asked a bunch of questions about the year of the bottle and shit
he worked his way into our conversation And once that happened the conversation was only about the biggest douche bag in the world
He told us he went to Africa and started his own mining company He wanted to impress us The mine collapsed and 50 workers died He had to flee Africa and lost a bunch of money He was upset about lost money He really wanted us to know how upset he was
We all just nodded along But I couldn’t anymore I said, “man, yer like the biggest douchebag in the world.”
My friend slapped his hand on the bar counter and tossed his head back laughing The lady giving me food giggled The bartender bent over, covered her mouth, her hair drooping over her face, she twirled around and quickly walked away
“What did you say?” said the biggest douchebag in the world. I repeated with a dead stare, “I said you are the biggest douchebag in the world.”
His face got red.
“what … you can’t say that to me.”
I took a big drink of my beer then said, “yup, sure can. Just did.”
I ate more fries I closed my eyes
The fries hit good with spices. The cheese so gooey and warm The beer so cold Tasting like exotic berries
I knew I would never drink this beer again I did not know what kind of beer it was. I don’t know anything And never will
My brain swam in the warm electric pool of an afterglow acid tab Smiling mermaids as brain cells Don’t bother me
“You can’t talk to me like that. You need to show some respect.” Oh I’d forgotten about the biggest douchebag in the world. I opened my eyes Turned to him “Bro, nobody cares about your problems. Get the fuck away from us.”
It got quiet.
The biggest douchebag in the world left without finishing his wine
The chili cheese fries were gone now
The lady next to me put her hand on my shoulder I felt the tips of her nails softly pressing into my skin. she asked if I wanted to try the mac & cheese next I did
We don’t carry baggage, we carry lassos and the time has come to move on, rope someone else with our feelings, drag their nights behind our galloping will and hope they survive the long, painful cut through the mud. It’s not that I mind the gesture. It’s hard to sever ties, so we might as well start by trimming the fat before we remove the heart entirely. It’s just a picture. Two people smiling about something, with a filter that made us look like sepia gods, soaked in the sun of a beautiful, infinite day. But I can’t stop thinking about the morning of. We stopped for breakfast and you told me, in between bites of your McGriddle, that thing I promised I’d never repeat, I reciprocated and we cried, guiding our horses for another round of circling the barrels long-since filled with poison from our respective upbringings. But we drove and eventually, we parked. We found the sun and shed the greater weight for the smaller moment. For company so perfect we had to save it. Smile into your camera and preserve the day. Celebrate. Not because we found happiness, but because we’d found each other.
But fuck me, I guess.
Timothy Tarkelly is a poet from Southeast Kansas. He’s had two books published by Spartan Press. When he’s not writing he teaches English to Ninth Graders. One of them recently described his ponytail as “immaculate.”
There is an Asian man on the subway He likes swimming with dog sharks I know this because I just overheard him He said this to his friend:
“I like swimming with dog sharks,” he said “It’s nice,” he said
I have never been swimming with dog sharks It is a regret I didn’t realize I had I don’t even know what a dog shark looks like I picture a German shepherd underwater It is gliding towards me with fangs exposed The dog shark has tiny fins and they are wagging frantically like so many tails
I should have asked the Asian man what dog sharks look like if only so I could picture them better and relay the details to you
If I was ever in the water with you and saw one I could say, “Look, there’s a dog shark” My knowledge of dog sharks would totally impress (I hope nobody asks any follow-up questions about dog sharks)
I guess I’ll just search “dog sharks” on the Internet but it’s not the same
I often eavesdrop—it’s something I can’t help but I’d never overheard anyone talking about dog sharks before So I really should have asked that Asian man on the subway
I should have asked him about dog sharks I think I would have learned something
I want to write the Jurassic Park of Great American Novels But I’m worried that might actually just be Jurassic Park
I call the help lines on subway ads
Look for answers in phone books
I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of failure,
and I’m a glossary of defeat
What’s a synonym for all of this?
My life seems beyond definition
—only because nobody has come up
with terminology so bizarre,
vernacular so flawed
I read Web MD entries to satisfy my neurosis
There are sick plot twists in books
about the Bermuda Triangle
that I read as a kid
Josh Sherman does run the @iamdave_hello Twitter account.
light blowing through slatted bamboo | across faded carpet spottedwith reds | mustards | strands of pale pup fluff and shreds of shattered leaves | washing tides rolling and ebbing like the years of psychedelic trees inconsistent in design and direction independent of the moon
the last warm sip the next morning is even sweeter than golden nectar of dreamed up gods luring me again inside a predestined quicksand Wednesday by hungry overlapped voids unwilling to be shuttered unfed
Don’t Forget Breakfast
my nostrils flare & flap like dry gills suckling air unsettled with churning richness of butter- drenched popped corn sagging, stubborn, in its own congealment – salty, lip-puckering & liquified sunshine crème. or maybe it’s the peeled & boiled eggs I left in a foggy bowl next to the sulfur- dank sink, steam twisting, oblique, for the hills. I squeeze them between finger and thumb like plump cysts to be certain they’re ready and, pleased enough, I lock them away, droplets dangling, tucked roughly on a too-tight shelf that squeezes them like shackles on a beauty awaiting an unavoidable fate as the next scheduled snack for a giant, drooling ape.
Stephen Ground recently packed his life in his truck and drove to the centre of the continent, where he makes movies and writes poems about the weirdness in the air.