Five Poems
by Leigh Chadwick, 3.24am July 10th 2021


 

“You Are Never More Attractive than When You Are Holding a Baby that Looks Like a Baby”

You, missing person’s report. You, house arrest. You, the cabin in the woods. You, hammer and
nail. Whenever someone asks me for directions, I tell them, Take a right at the Khol’s, then turn
your PlayStation on and press down up right left up up down down
. I am collecting frequent flier
miles so we can pretend we actually want to leave the bed. You, forever stamp. The first cave
drawing. Pink dye injected into salmon. A bear crossing the road. Tires skidding. Sometimes Salt
Lake City. Sometimes Boulder. Sometimes Chattanooga. You, forest fire. You, hydrogen bomb.
A liberal arts degree floating in a well. All floss and gums. Broken box springs. A bump in the
highway. A mailbox cracked and bent. You, the park by the lake. You, the lake by the park. The
trail littered with pinecones and cigarette butts tainted rose. A field flushed. You, a swan dive off
the bridge.

“A Mass of Thoughts”

I go to bed a Jehovah’s Witness. I dream Armageddon filing its taxes. I dream people climbing
out of the dirt and dusting off their cellphones. I bathe in ampersands and wake up a
scientologist. I sit on a televised couch. I tell you, Sit with me. Name me a crater. Give me the
sun.
I say, Call me sensible magic. People are dying and it’s not even tomorrow yet. There is too
much gun in guns. It’s 2021 and my t-shirt still reads I’D RATHER BE AT THE FYRE
FESTIVAL
. Every night I wake up with a mouthful of dirty bathwater. I hire myself to play me
sitting on a couch, watching a shot for shot remake of the shot for shot remake of Psycho. I never
cover my mouth mid moan, but I often wake up screaming in reverse. I start a Daniel Johnston
cover band between my hips and cover the pillows with the memory from the afternoon at the
lake.

“Bump in the Night”

I dream you fall out of bed and break your heart and arms and legs and I think some ribs and
your skull chips the laminate floor and the laminate floor chips your skull and mostly
everywhere you can walk is covered in red and now you are dead. I find you moments after you
fall. I dial 911. I touch what skin I can find, checking for a pulse, checking for anything I can
pretend is breath. I find nothing. There is nothing. You have become nothing. When the
paramedics arrive, you’re already the color of the sheet they drape over you. The medics place
you on a gurney and wheel you out the front door. They slide you into the back of the
ambulance, which doesn’t bother turning on its siren or feel the need to ignore the red of the
stoplights or try to catch a speeding ticket. When I wake up, I’m still thinking about you dying. I
think about how most of the breaks didn’t matter: Most people don’t die from a broken arm or a
broken leg or a broken pelvis or even a broken back. They don’t die from broken thrusts or from
a broken-down car on the side of the interstate. Instead, they die from a broken skull, beaten in
from a baseball bat, from being filled with more drugs than blood as they are stuck floating and
lost and scared.

“I Delete Every Emotion That Was Never Worth Capitalizing”

I don’t know the last time we fucked to the silence of alliteration. Minutes turn to miles and
miles turn to decades. In ten years, we will be ten years older. We’ve sharpened our teeth into
knives. We, the teeth, chewing through insurance copays and the congestion on I-95. We, the
second coming. We, the militia. We, raw and hidden from the wind. There are sutures where
sutures were never meant to be. I delete every emotion that was never worth capitalizing. I hum
“This Tornado Loves You” while you press me against the kitchen sink. The dog is howling but
we can’t hear him. Someone is shooting someone but we’re not paying attention. I tell you your
sweat smells like sweat. It’s a good thing. You say you can’t remember if you paid the electric
bill. A river runs down my left thigh. You probably paid it, I say.

“Linden”

They tracked the footprints left from the soles of his Chuck Taylors as he took one of his long
walks deep into the middle of nowhere, a clearing in the forest, one of those empty spaces where
he could sprawl out, where he could stretch beyond the town he was born too big for. They knelt
over the footprints and tasted the dirt. Then, they followed his trail back to the house, the muddy
footprints leading up the steps and through the front door. It was a game—how they thrusted the
blades of their hunting knives so deep inside him that his insides had no choice but to crawl right
out.