Justin Karcher

In the beginning your life
Was a special kind of speed boat
Racing across waves of Morse code
Over a seafloor littered with dead languages.
You were never very afraid of getting lost
In translation, because you were confident that love
And sometimes passion shoves life back into
Unfamiliar bones, that although history is one big closet
That billions of skeletons call home, all it takes
Is the strength of your heart to fling open the door
To emancipate the pain and set the world free.

But that was a long time ago, when your overconfidence
Overflowed in abundance outta you. Now look at you.
Tonight you put much water in the pot when making pasta,
Because you were distracted, lonely and needing pasta,
Because pasta suggests there’s a foundation of family in your life,
Or so you think prolly because of the whole Italian thing.
It’s especially sad when you crush up your antidepressants
And sprinkle them like parmesan cheese over the cheap noodles.
It’s even sadder when you’re eating it
While watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
For, like, the millionth time, because the mind’s so monstrous
And you understand that forced amnesia
Is sometimes the best option and anyway, Kate Winslet’s
So adorable in it, working at Barnes & Noble
Where you worked at for six years. She’s so cute
You want to flagellate yourself because she’s a manic pixie
Dream girl and you pride yourself on never objectifying anyone
And you feel like a hypocrite, but goddamn, that dyed hair!
You’re always anxious thinking you’re not living your life
To the fullest looking for your own peace of mind.

As you finish the rest of your antidepressant alfredo,
You make quips to all of your imaginary friends
About how Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Is from an Alexander Pope poem, that maybe what you need more than anything
Is to go on a vision quest inside the cataracts
Of cracked-out angels, but none of your friends - real
Or imaginary – ever listen to your cries for help.
Things, it seems, never quite go according to plan.
There was a time, maybe long ago, when you and everyone around you
Understood each other’s Morse code. Now look at you all,
Scratching at deafness hoping to erase the itch of words gone unsaid.
Blessed are the forgetful. You look at a baby, and it’s so pure
And so free and so clean – and adults are, like,
This mess of sadness, so you walk the streets at night
Weeping for millions of mouthless streetlights,
Because deep down you know how thirsty they must be.
Struggling against the persistent darkness,
Losing too much of themselves in the war for shine.
You imagine they’re desperate to drink themselves to death,
Especially when the daylight takes all the credit
For holding the city’s sanity together.
These are nights you take your lumbering body
And scale up streetlights on Richmond Ave.
And punch their faces open to create mouths,
Then you pour in whatever liquor you swiped
From your ex’s apartment – usually gin
And you don’t care much for gin. Whiskey’s your lover,
Because you imagine it’s what God’s piss tastes like,
That when he created the oceans, it’s because he broke the seal.
Then you imagine that the ocean floor
Is just one giant whiskey dick. Sad, but when it gets going –
Boy, does it ever – those tsunamis of rage
When libido is more like a shipwreck than proof of procreation,
When silent dinners with lying lovers suddenly erupt
Over the breaking of tectonic plates, when everything starts to shift,
But you’re not ready to move on. You’re never ready to move on.

Oh, these are nights you water board streetlights with cheap gin
In hopes they start dancing, that they start feeling good about themselves,
That they finally kick the darkness. Sometimes you try to transform yourself
Into a flickering streetlight by rooting your feet into the ground
And lighting your hair on fire until you’re dazed and contused
And the darkness feels safe again, until we’re all beautiful birds
Perched on podiums of hope and preaching that we should never abandon
Each other when we’re at our worst. You tell yourself

That you should be breaking the chains that you have seemingly been
Held down by. Not falling into the statistics.
Making it from poverty. Fighting over the smallest words.
Because there’s the chance you might die in a car crash
And there’s still so much love left to thrust, a thievery
Sandwiched between ear and shoulder, when the knot in your brain
Bursts and a million thoughts build you a skyscraper of what you want
From the ground up – so give it another go, because there’s beauty
In getting another chance to fuck it all up again. Everything happening to you
Right here, right now is proof that destiny is making the night sky go all leprosy
And the moon is shitting out binoculars for your eyes to get another go
At finding silver linings. There is already so much light
That you carry in your hands, that you should carry it toward the darkness
On the other side of us all. Maybe if you try to be the best person
You can possibly be, then maybe your bones won’t limp to the finish line
Like jellyfish tailgating outside of funeral homes.

You’re better than this. You’re better than walking alongside railroad tracks
From cerebellum to crotch hoping all the poltergeists in your life
Will stop pussyfooting around and possess you completely, so that you’ll derail
Into rock bottom, so that by morning, you’ll be gone. The end…now don’t erase this
From your memory. Look at you, your eyes ablaze, playing spin the telescope
With speakeasy astronomers. Everything’s going to be okay.