I am hiding in a state north of Virginia. Bomb shelters are cheaper
there. In the state north of Virginia I am always looking out
of a snow globe or into a can of low sodium black beans.
I am marrying a girl who is also hiding in a state north of Virginia.
We are building a bomb shelter because nine year olds are being shot
in grocery stores. We are building a bomb shelter so we can fuck
with the lights on and feel weird about it. Alternative title for this poem:
“For Breakfast I am Going to Pretend to Still Be Sleeping.”
In 2008 I went to school where that guy went to school,
but nobody talked about that guy who went to school there. I didn’t know
the guy, saw a picture maybe three times, but I know he chained
the doors and promised no dessert before bed. Instead of talking about the guy,
we talked about the price of pita pizzas and how beer tastes good always.
I didn’t write in my journal I see shootings. I wasn’t in Virginia when other
people were leaving Virginia. I was in Virginia when it was okay to feel
normal in Virginia again. That is the motto of my bruised heart: Feel
Normal Again. The state flower of my left shoulder blade is a fan
I buried in my backyard, watered it every morning before I watered
myself. Watch the fan tree grow, watch it cool the earth.
In 2008 I didn’t watch the news, so what I learned was that cows shared
fields with sharpshooters. Count the black spots on the cows, count
the Kevlar vests on the men with guns. Connect the dots. Find Waldo
hiding in a bathroom stall. Let’s rewind. If I were writing a poem to 1985,
I would write Are you sad you’re over? Do you miss the ground
the way I miss a juice box and her face painted across my chest?
If I were writing a poem in 1985, I would be nothing years old, maybe two
weeks old, maybe five months old. In 1985 I was 12 weeks old and fell
out of my high chair, cracked my head, rivulets of blood in the cracks
of tile. If I had died, I would still be dead, I wouldn’t have swallowed
a bottle of Klonopin in 2005, a few weeks after I tossed a handful of pebbles
at my ex’s second story window and thought This is how movies are made.
Rewinding without a remote is hard work. The state bird of my spinal chord:
an origami swan lit on fire. In 1999 I watched a high school fall apart,
cops pointing their guns at students. It could be anyone the cops or the news
anchor or my mother said. 2007 was my year of no fucking.
I held my breath in the shower, counted the seconds till worms
danced across my eyes. In 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed
13 and injured 21, but the cops pointed their guns at the students.
Someone’s been building pipe bombs in their garage and the pipe bombs
smiled because it was true. I was 14 when I watched students run out
of the school with their hands on their heads. I was 14, and I hadn’t
met my future wife yet, just watched the news and ate something,
not sure what. In 1985 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were four years old.
If I were writing a poem to 1985, I would write Did they tell you secrets
about how they wanted to eat flesh, paint the hallways like a horror
movie? What I remember from yesterday: a latte with aspartame, a blowjob
that felt like the moon. In 1999 I never had a fear of flying, no desire
to soak my hands in sanitizer. Fast forwarding is easier when you’re
in love. What I remember from yesterday: nothing about poetry, nothing
about the way air carried me like a pink cloud. In 2009 I smoked my last
cigarette. It tasted like a cigarette. What I remember from today:
holding myself like a dirty flagpole.
In Vermont No One Can Hear You Scream
In Vermont I am always looking out of a snow globe.
Today I am pretending I know what origami snow would feel
like. Watch the bottom of my snow boots, watch them fold
into dirty swans, Chinese finger cuffs. Next term I am running
for mayor of Stowe, Vermont. There are so many signs outside
my house that read NO MORE POT HOLES, NO MORE TANK
TRAPS. My wife Lysols the couch before we fuck on it
and still rubs my belly after dinner. I tell the lotto Thank you.
I tell them This was worth not dying. I open a lemonade stand
15 years too late. My beard is creepy behind a pitcher of Country
Time. As mayor of Stowe everyone will wander the streets
in daylight like sick raccoons. Most days feel average in my heart.
I tell Vermont not to worry, eventually everywhere will melt
butter in November. In space no one can hear you scream
because of gravity or aliens or because no one screams when they
are completely alone. My wife is always on top because
we are not ready for a baby. Gravity tells her uterus no, tells my
sperm to find another room. If this poem were true, I would be dumb
as shit. Watch the bottom of my snow boots, watch them fold into a half
used tube of toothpaste, a shipwreck in a bottle. As mayor of Stowe
everyone will take their blow dryers to the ground. If I say
something about snow globes here, this poem will have come
Please Move to Vermont and Break My Heart
I am writing a book on how to write a book so I can learn how to properly explain why you look better with the lights on. I listen to a song but it doesn’t mention your name so I stop listening to the song. Your heart is noise pop. White noise is ghosts missing the streamers that fall from your ears while you sing in the car. Vermont is not far if you are already in Vermont. My cat looks at me and then walks away. He is named either after a famous musician or a body of water. There are so many words I refuse to learn how to spell. Still, I spell check your thighs after I bend you over my desk. I spell check the inside of your left ear while you bite yourself on the kitchen table. Prostrate. Today I am writing in grunts, I am playing in fonts. My chest hair is size 44 Comic Sans. My eyebrows are whittled away before I leave the mall. I have sat under the same sun as you for 25 years. Sometimes I have walked under the same sun as you. Once, I played tennis under the same sun as you. Repetition sun. Staccato sun. Wrinkled sun. I tell your skin that covers your clavicle We’ve got at least 53 more years of holding hands on a bench under the same sun. The sequel to this poem is John Cusack holding a boombox over his head under barely any sun. Fact: I want to kiss your nose even when I’m not inside you.
The Things I Do When I Am Not Doing You
I Google my name and your name. I wrote another poem that started like that but fuck it, I like this poem better. I Google swift touch. I Google Swiffer Wet Jet. There are coupons on the website. These coupons make the Swiffer Wet Jet affordable. I will buy two in case one breaks down. I will clean my floors for you. I will clean myself after I clean my floors. This is how you will know I love you. I Google why does chocolate melt? and then I lick my fingers. I Google licking fingers and find out it is a Swedish independent record label. I Google Swedish Fish and get hungry. Swedish Fish are like gummy bears but they are all red and have gills. Gummy bears don't have gills and some of them taste like pineapple. I don't Google squirrel on jet skis, but I Google the poem about the river that eats a boy who was supposed to be in class but wasn't in class because the river ate him. That river is really fucking mean. I Google meanest river in the world and discover that Gustave is the world's meanest crocodile. Gustave is greatly feared by people living by the shores of the Ruzizi River in Burundi. I don't Google Burundi but instead think Bundt cake. I Google emotion. There are dirty dishes in the sink. I miss your neck between my teeth. There are so many girls I will never have to kiss.
In addition to penning the poetry collection Heavy Petting (YesYes Books, 2011), Gregory Sherl is the author of The Oregon Trail Is the Oregon Trail, a novella in verse, forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press, January 2012, and I Have Touched You, a chapbook of linked stories, available now from Dark Sky Books.