I, knee-locked and clearing throat on the edge of a cliff, toe life and death. I tremble before the treble patch in my vibrato. No audience. No purpose nor functionality. The garble of brook is a raspy whisper behind me. The sky: a cheek dabbed with rouge lit sanguine and metallic. I am forgotten by those who I have forgotten. I second-guess my outfit: a cardigan stitched with my father’s silver linings, my mother’s blonde hair slicked down onto my crown, my brother’s skinny jeans unable to hold back bulge and chill, and God’s own pair of high-top Converses colored with liminal spaces between hope and vanity. Shades of grey, off-white. I inhale, exhale an uncivilized mountain call. I immolate a Swiss-army knife thrust into the thigh of nightfall. I came to scream through this controlled torture. I came to find absolution over the deep drop into ravine and let sonic-blood out of voice-box. Even my echo is caged. I am nothing to write home about. I am nothing to write about. I am about nothing. I am nothing. I am something in a world where suffering is a lost art only learned with patience. I came to sucker-punch God in the throat and take a heavy breather: I’m all out of breath. Can you guess who never showed?
Call me anti-romantic, but I always dap up the devil. He says we are just animals disguised with wit overcrowding in cities. He says there is no one who believes in magic anymore. I figure this is because we discover better ways to ruin ourselves with technology.
Once, in a bruised twilight, my dead girlfriend walked through the trunk of an oak and laid down next to me. I thought it was the LSD but she told me there’s no such thing as hell. I believed her and her cyanotic eyes, her split lips, the umbra shadowed on each cheek.
The priorities of animals are as follows: birth, see, hunt, fuck, and die. Once, in a concussed midnight, I cried. The tears were minuscule, dripping diamonds fading into my hands.
I watched an old friend ride by on his signature Schwinn (the same he let me borrow to visit my deceased girlfriend). When he waved, the moonlight pierced straight through his gesture. He yelled that we should catch up sometime. I had already forgotten his plot number.
Call me nihilistic, but, ever since I was five, I have wanted to unlearn to be alive. I have exhausted the verb survive. I’d rather observe the way ravens peck flesh from bones, listen to the coyotes roam toward the spot where life rots, and listen to the applause of old friends before ascending into the night.
What good is an animal if it cannot be trained? What good is an animal if he can’t thrive on what must be done? What good is an animal? What is good? What good?
Uncommon Laws that Shouldn’t Be Broken
I once danced with a bear on the tile floor of my near pocket-sized kitchen. He engraved claw marks in the calk between already scuffed tiles. His voice gruff, his beard brownish. Both are whitening. He says he misses those days. If you must dance with a bear, be sure to let him lead.
I had a lady friend (had). She liked to pinch my right butt cheek. I wasn’t sure if this was her kind of affection. Sometimes, it hurt. I still think of her after we parted ways: her hair sun-burnt and windblown, her left eye golden-wheat toned while the right a slight greenish tint. We abused love arguing over who wore pants. When the shit hits the fan, it’s never evenly distributed.
I’ve never jumped out of an airplane. Why step out of a perfectly good chance to receive complimentary B-rated movies. Why waste jet fuel? I had a model of a Jet (once). I worked hard in my childhood to build it. The ceiling dropped it on my head one morning: kamikazed into forehead and bombed its way into splinters. I will never jump out of a plane. It’s quite obvious that a falling object will always land to impact efficiently to do the most damage.
My heart is made of multiple things: a dying four cylinder engine, Plexiglass, rusting bolts; a bear paw, beard trimmings, and canine encased in a ballet shoe; a small vice grip and shreds from a ripped pair of jeans, plus epoxy and gasoline to keep its going together. It works well enough. I’ve always believed in an old, bitter maxim. If something ain’t broke, better not fix it.
Samuel J Fox is an M.A. candidate in English at Western Carolina University. He writes poetry and nonfiction/lyric essays. He queers the lines often and refuses to concede with social norms. He has been published most recently in Luna Luna Magazine and A Quiet Courage; he is forthcoming in Polychrome Ink Literary Journal. He lives within the mist, foliage, and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.