Poetry

Shut the fuck up with your open mouths like
gaping red wounds and various other
tired metaphors. Imagine the lipstuck
orifice as something new: two rare and
exotic plantains or some such foreign
fruit; a pair of the sexiest dead slugs
ever to be stepped on in Christendom;
whatever third example you’re thinking
of that might be better than the third that
I’m thinking of; a crescent-shaped backyard
pool well after midnight, two long banks of
cherry-colored LEDs lining the sides,
saltwater, not chlorine, and I’ve never
in my life been so in need of a swim.

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(to the tune of “Finnegan’s Wake”)

Plastic Paddy lived on Linden Street,
A mutt with a tinge of Irish blood.
His North Shore accent wicked sweet
and in his life, smoked too much bud.
So he had a sort of a tipplin’ way
With a love for jäger bombs he was born.
And to help him get to class each day:
Sambuca in his Dunkies ev’ry morn.

CHORUS:
Chug, Chug, Chug, bro, let’s do shots
’til you hit the floor and your stomach aches.
Dudebro, it’s a rager here
At Plastic Paddy’s wake and bake!

One night he shotgunned too much beer.
His head felt heavy, which made him shake.
He fell from the second floor balcony
And they gathered around to help him wake.
They moved him to the futon
where they slapped him twice upside the head.
Someone panicked, “Call the cops!”
when they felt for sure that he was dead.

(Repeat Chorus)

His friends assembled in the living room
And Dave O’Reilly called for shots.
Whiskey, cream, and Guinness chugged,
then finished with a rip of pot.
Maggie McDonald flipped her shit:
“I’m so fucked up, but seriously
we should probably call the cops.”
“Yo, that bitch is tweakin’!” yelled Al Giovanni.

(Repeat Chorus)

Then Suzy Kaplan spoke up with haste:
“You’re killing the buzz, so there’s the door.”
Maggie then gave her a slap in the face
And left her sprawling on the floor.
Then the war did soon engage;
‘Twas woman to woman and man to man.
The kegger war broke out in rage
and a violent riot soon began.

(Repeat Chorus)

Then Teddy Davis ducked his head
when someone threw a can of Natty.
It burst beside the futon bed
and the beer exploded all over Paddy.
Paddy revives, see how he rises!
Paddy risin’ from the futon!
Says, “Whoa. Shit. I’m good now, bro.
Let’s do car bombs! Party on!”

(Repeat Chorus)

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Let’s build ampersandcastles
on a moat that’s made of words
with turrets turning clauses
where the arrowslits are heard

and a drawbridge joining predicates
from subjects made of stone
that punctuate the pillars
of the stories we call “home.”

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as opposed to talking, speaking, verbally
expressing myself, articulating, perhaps
enunciating, or maybe even communicating;
I’m just saying. Words have power when
they’re stated, spoken, told, disclosed, but
those linguistic weapons are swiftly disarmed
if we simply say that our saying is “just,”
because just makes us blameless and right.

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She came to life on a cold, flat slab, a thin slice of pulped plant flesh cut down to 8.5×11 inches and college-ruled with blue lines and pink borders on the edge. Her master made her through an ungodly alchemy of other fictional females, the edges of their words stitched together like skin. Her fingers came from Garden State; her left leg from Elizabethtown, while her right came from The Perks of Being A Wallflower; her luscious lips were culled from High Fidelity‘s Charlie; her fashion sense was stolen from one Holly Golightly; and her voice was ripped straight from the throat of Zoe Deschanel herself.

In short, she was perfect. So he flipped the switch and brought the page to life — his beautiful, monstrous bride, unnaturally thrust into reality and forced  to do his bidding. He cackled wildly as the little black inkjets spit her out upon the page in all her bubbling two-dimensional glory. “Arise!” he screamed, “Arise!” as the thunder clapped behind him, its cavernous boom breathing life into his creation.

When her eyes sprung open, he saw that she had a heterochromia — one green eye, one brown, a subtle quirk that brought her unrealisticness to life. She looked at him with those sparkling, mismatched eyes and said, “Where am I?”

“New Jersey,” he replied. “Or, maybe LA, I don’t know, I haven’t really decided yet. Williamsburg? That’s kind of in the middle, right?”

“Williamsburg, wow! I’ve never been to New York City,” she said as she sat up on the table and peered around his office laboratory. She saw posters of indie rock bands tacked up to the walls, and fraying composition notebooks building wood piles in the corners by the sagging full-size mattress that he pretended was a bed. “Do you have any tea? I could really use some organic honey chamomile with ginger, one Stevia and maybe just a splash of almond milk. Have you heard the new Arcade Fire record? I haven’t, I don’t listen to music released after 1973. Oh! Let’s go dancing! I’ve never danced before. Is there weather outside? It should definitely be raining, unless it’s sunny, which is also good, too. Do you have some kind of whimsical pet name I should call you?”

“Jesus Christ, shut up already,” he said.

“But…I don’t know your name,” she said with a sparkle in her smile.

“You can call me ‘Master’,” he said. “But just don’t talk right now. That’s not what I made you for.”

“What do you mean? A free spirit can’t be made like this. I’m independent, a free woman. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Well, yes, but you’re not supposed to…I don’t know, want things. You shouldn’t have like, opinions or whatever. Jesus Christ!” He crumpled up the paper, crushed it smaller, smaller still, until it turned into a little ball that fit inside his fist, then he threw it at the trash can and stomped out of his bedroom, slamming the door behind him for dramatic effect.

But what he didn’t realize was that it was already too late. He had already let his creation out into the world. In all her quirky wonder, in all her hypomanic majesty. And it was a world that she could never understand, a system of rules that she could never truly fit inside. So she grabbed the nearest hoodie, crawled out his bedroom window, leaving the curtains flapping behind her in the evening breeze, and she escaped, setting out to find a place where she could spread her manic pixie madness and be free.

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It was nearing sundown on that late autumn evening, and soon the frost would settle in for the long winter months. Mordecai Willington III was tending to the last of his crops, surveying the remaining gourds that littered his field in a tangled mess of pulp and vine, like a spider’s web in orange, brown, and yellow, speckled with flecks of green. It was the end of the harvest season, and though his yield had been high this year, he wasn’t selling as strongly as he had hoped. Soon the gourds would go to waste, buried beneath the snow along the cold Atlantic coast. Without the money he had hoped to make, his family would be forced to ration their goods until the spring.

Mordecai was gathering the final fresh gourds when a blinding white flashed across the field. It was radiant and burned without pain, as if God Himself had come down from above to bless the land. Mordecai was then surprised when a young girl emerged from the glorious haze, wearing boots to the middle of her shins that were covered in the fur of what appeared to be some relative of a sheep. Her long hair seemed an unnatural auburn shade and her clothing was immodest: a form-fitting pair of slacks made of some material he had never seen, and a button-down shirt in tartan tones that clung tightly to her well-supported bosom. She did not appear to be a harlot, though her face was indeed painted, giving her an angelic glow.

“I’m Alyssa,” she said, and when she smiled, her teeth were neither yellow nor jagged, but rather like a child’s in a full grown mouth.

“The Lord knows me as Mordecai Willington III,” he said, and bowed his nod. “Are you a messenger from God? Have you come to tell me how I shall feed my family through this cold, dark winter?”

“I do, but not from God. I come Northeastern University, four-hundred-and-something years in the future. Well, technically I grew up in Jersey but now I’m studying marketing. This is my internship semester.”

Mordecai turned his head and looked curiously at the strange woman. “Your words, they sound like English. I know them, yet I do not understand them. There is something queer about them.”

The girl — Alyssa — rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated. “Ugh, it was one time after volleyball practice. I’m not like a dyke or — you know, forget it, that’s not the point. I’m here to tell you that you need to take those leftover pumpkins, and turn those into beer, so we can get fucked up in the future. Oh, and from now on, you should probably ferment at the start of the harvest, so we can drink them starting in like, August. Got it?”

Mordecai laughed and said, “Others have done the same with their leftover gourds. It tastes retched compared to true ales! But it does indeed get you through the winter. But if we were to use our pumpkin harvest in the summer months, before the crops are ready, it would taste so green, and soiled. And then we would not have the crops to use in the fall!”

“That’s why you just dump a bunch of nutmeg and cinnamon and crap in, and you’ll be fine. And then you just sell that and you’ll make like a million dollars and you won’t even to worry about selling more crops in the future. I’m telling you, I’m marketing major, and I’m doing all kinds of alcohol brand ambassador stuff at  my internship now. I totally know what I’m talking about.”

Mordecai took a step towards her and peered at her with squinted eyes. “Why would I waste such valuable spices? We do make ales from pumpkin at the end of the harvest, but only out of necessity, never for flavor, and certainly not with pride. Why should I listen to you? How do I know that you are not sent here from the Devil?”

“Ugh, why does everyone hate Jersey so much?” the girl replied. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts and said, “Just trust me, okay? Think of me as like, the Ghost of Frat Parties Future. Or something. I don’t know. I never read that book, just the SparkNotes.”

#

The next summer, Mordecai took his entire pumpkin harvest and did precisely as he was told. But no one would barter or pay for his beer, and without any other crops to sell, his family went cold and hungry, and over the course of the winter, his entire family succumbed to the elements. But their sacrifice made for some like, totally sweet parties in the first few weeks of the semester.

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instead of gesticulating, gesturing,
balancing akimbo, crossed along the chest
or thrust deep into pockets, fingering
the holes and fiddling with change
or sticking lint beneath the nails;
an alternative tic that keeps the time
ticking while you await your turn
to speak, and so you lift and sniff
and sip and swallow, let the glass
drop slowly to the table, listen,
rinse, repeat.

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you don’t know that there are ways of responding to tragedy without being narcissistic and self-serving

you don’t know how a national crisis and the death of at least three innocent people could not be about you

you don’t know that you don’t need to take advantage of every single situation by turning it into another outlet for arrogant self-promotion that excuses itself from criticism by somehow pretending to be quote-unquote performance art

you don’t know how to stop

you don’t know what it’s like to live without the comfort net of privilege that has supported you your entire life

you don’t know why you have to keep explaining your art to people who just don’t get it

you don’t know how to explore the mind and perspective of an alleged killer in a provocative or intriguing way but you still insist on doing so

you don’t know that this isn’t about you

you don’t know that this isn’t about you

you don’t know that this isn’t about you

you don’t know that this isn’t about you

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On the 8th Day, God created the Internet. He looked to it and saw that it was good. Adam & Eve were delighted — they finally had something to waste their time on while they were wasting their time in Eden.

Then one day while Eve was poking around the Internet on her Apple device looking for more videos of cats when she stumbled upon a link to a news article. A snake appeared in the grass beside her and hissed, “Ssssssssssscroll down.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, not having seen a talking snake before.

“Passssssssssst the article. Sssssssssscroll to the bottom of the page.”

And so she did. But Eve was still confused. “Okay, but now what I do?”

“Sssssssssssimple,” the snake responded. “Read the commentssssss. All the ssssssssssssecrets of the world will yoursssss if you jusssssst read the commentsssssss.”

And thus was borne original sin. And then Adam came by and said “First!”

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