i ain’t reading all that / i’m happy for you tho / or sorry that happened

By | 1 September 2023

“She owed us so many poems” – Keaton Patti’s AI-bot-inspired obituary
Constructed one sentence per day

What if I don’t have any poems left in me? Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my cosmic comeuppance. It doesn’t matter what happened to me in private; people will only ever remember that I was publicly insane. I used to love honey and fear drugs. Now I’m all drugs and bees, no sweetness. Perhaps I’m only human if you believe in me hard enough, if I’m sensible and sympathetic and ever so good. Enchanted by another snail, I weave desire paths through my own muck. Would I still make an iconic lollipop lady? Something something something fugue. In the emergency department, we are a series of questions without an appropriate checkbox. The waiting room full of false rainbows and unknown variables. My coming out story is the ballad of Earring Magic Ken. I don’t want to perform wellness, but I don’t want to perform sickness either. In your dreams, my mouth is Velcro, spilling scratchy secrets. In mine, my fears crumble to salt and I eat them on French fries. You untie my shoes for me when I’m too tired to put myself to bed. I don’t notice until the next morning, when I’m moulding my feet back into shape. In the (psycho)tropics, nine out of ten GPs are frothing to shame my body for how it responds to antipsychotics. I recover from the eating disorder, and they breathe a sigh a relief that I am fodder for their fatphobia once more. I am diagnosed as a character from Chicken Run. I am both the nerd and the ditz in Chicken Run. I am the utopic lesbian aspirations of Chicken Run. The world is full of scheming plasticine rats, just like Chicken Run. I’m in love with the shape of Chicken Run. What does it mean when you get the Tuesday Suicides every day? I masturbate: is that a little suicide? I make a nest from my own hair because I don’t trust anyone else’s. I am a private menace, disturbing my own peace. All I want is to dilly dally. Too much dilly, not enough dally. Or vice versa. A dilly dally dilemma. I wish I could stifle the sound of my chaos into the tune of The L Word theme song. A different song plays. It’s the music from reality TV dating shows that indicates a contestant is an utter clown. I don’t want to kill a fly for buzzing. I don’t want to destroy something simply because it’s annoying. January melts and mumbles. Sorry for setting off your uncanny valley detector. My dad tells me of when his family home burned down around him, but he refused to leave until someone made him a ketchup sandwich. It’s this, more than the shape of our elbows, that convinces me of genetics. I’m one minor inconvenience away from becoming a cartoon supervillain. I name my absent children after the noises in the attic, and all words lose their meaning. They call it semantic satiation. I fill in the blanks with lorem ipsum. Under this roof, we go off impulse. I’m addicted to competition shows where the judges cry a lot. I watch Insta videos of some guy eating porridge while covered in rodents. Frisson itches. You go away for a week, and I forget to nurture the parts of myself that make me a person. I let a spider claim the kitchen. The dog claims the bedroom, the cat claims my skin. I’ve never once felt refreshed in my life. Standing around like a person emoji, I fixate on hyperdontia. Hyperdontia wish your girlfriend had teeth like me. I want to be angry so badly, a pre-emptively clenched fist. My fursona is the dust monster from Round the Twist. It’s easier to live in corners. Each cluster of breath tastes like a mistake, a sunflower smoke. Are these pareidolic faces mad at me? I am Zac Efron’s pond reflection in the ‘Bet On It’ number in High School Musical 2 – a shittily edited facsimile of a star. All lesbians are jellicles, but craving oat milk instead of rebirth. At a social function, I tell someone’s grandpa that I’m a tooth-eating dentist to conceal my identity as a tooth-wearing poet. Is it so wrong to write? Less of a river, more of a sludge-covered rock jammed in its craw. My assailant is now someone’s husband; I’m wed only to my willpower. He’s the apple of her eye, but he squirms at my core, a toxic gut full of worms, soured. I’m the bridegroom of sweet revenge, cold revenge, of revenge for the ragamuffin, rascal, rapscallion, rat bastard. There’s a bunion bioluminescent on the cusp of my life. I’m ripping out the tags and cosplaying in your old clothes. In queer company, and only here, I’m suddenly feminine. I was always the boy in the playground, the honorary husband, frog, or piece of furniture, if I was ever permitted to play at all. I’m a disaster of a girl, but I refuse to be anything else. Mrs. Jingles died today. I spent my first day of school playing hide-and-seek, with no one coming to find me. I don’t own an accurately functioning clock, not even the Shrek one. Time skips. I step out of this poem for a few days. I’m more flexible than people think, contorting into yoga poses in the liminal space, packing myself up like a saggy old mattress, drenched in campfire beans. There’s an apricity to my burnout on a crisp morning, curling my singed edges. If life were an urban legend, I’d be a mere gerbil and the world would be Richard Gere’s butt. All my targeted ads describe themselves as ‘buttersoft’, and I develop a Pavlovian response to my non-dairy margarine alternative spread. I doomscroll too hard, entering a dimension where my least favourite person lip-synchs my least favourite song (and they’re not even a drag queen). At dawn, I walk past all the rich houses in a neighbouring suburb, their silence like a status symbol. I pick my wedgie as I pass the fanciest mansion. I am the Garfield of this very moment. Every alien abduction story is weirdly horny; I just want extra-terrestrial kinship. I rejuvenate my line readings, soap-scummed and palms pruning. We load up on discount vegetables, but you’re the only one who envisions what they can become. Alone, I puff up spores. I’m that person buying the trendy flavours of classic products – Oreos, crisps. Is it my fault there’s Vegemite everything? The world’s greatest poem is whatever is going through my dog’s mind when she nibbles on my fingernail. I can’t compete with that, but why are we always competing? Maybe this is enough, whatever it is. Scream-happy in a Spotlight store, I stifle conspiracy theories about their ugly, bland fabrics. I morph into a nightmare femme on the floor of a Bunnings, bleeding glitter glue. I saw a turtle today, but there were already two people with nose rings taking pictures of it, and I didn’t want to make it three of us. A villain, or cat from Cats the Musical, says ‘I am’. A hero, or a poet, says ‘I want’. But I am what I want, and I want to be a poetic cat. The teddy bear on the side of the road destroys me with a siren song. Each day is an heirloom fruit. I never learnt to play chess. I fill my time with rodent funerals, spacing out beneath an uninvited daytime moon. I lived with someone for four years without ever knowing the scrawl of her handwriting. I want to plant enough trees to offset my existence. This sounds like shit when Siri reads it. Does it sound any better in my voice? In your head? Why must I always wait to be emboldened, struck by lightning, before I can say a word? Poetry is so fucking embarrassing.

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