Probably Named Jim
Whoever came up with life
insurance was a genius or
a sucker. The value of dissolute
minerals, the odd carved shell
weighed against the shareholders’
faith. I am at my best when
I’m recycled, a worm’s timeshare
he dreams of retiring to someday.
Everything you die for is
a long-established lie, except
Chocodiles, which exist
as part of a publicly traded
entity. Find me an ounce of love,
justice, quiet. There is a kind
of machinery, oiled with the sweat
and blood of somebody else. It grinds
ever onward while we all try
to pretend we’re not screaming.
Remember, as a child, how you
thought nothing? And then,
the first time you realized what
they’d made for you, you raged?
This is how I heal.
I wash enough things
to make me forget
my hands. I count
until I’ve forgotten
how many times
I’ve started over.
I make a video in
the stairwell I just
cried in trying to
sell it to the French.
Offer the squirrels
outside the window
nuts until they pancake
on the glass. Then feel
strangely ashamed. Some
people who don’t
understand time think
it exists all at once.
The past is now.
The present is the past.
And the future is
something that happens
to other people, who
were better at planning
or just had more luck
than I ever did.
To Know Thyself
Start with the proper accoutrements:
a bowtie with soft colors. A hawk’s
wing draped across your clavicle.
Look at what the pretty people do
and then don’t do that. If you don’t
know what to wear, I know a guy
who knows a guy. What I’m saying
is it’s good to have friends, even
if you have to pay for them. Who
do you think isn’t collecting a check
from you? When the villagers come,
slip a mustache onto your upper
lip and tell them the bastard ran out
the back not five minutes ago. Grab
a pitchfork and a torch. Hope
to God that mustache glue holds.
They make it from the neediest horses,
so. The thing is, you weren’t meant
for any of this. No one was. You
were supposed to be a dancer or
lay on the couch for three weeks
straight or find someone who sees
the you you forgot to make yourself
The one that’s clever and cool. Someone
who somehow isn’t disappointed
in the you you became instead because
of traffic and poor time management.
Good luck. There’s not a one of us who
wouldn’t settle for a nice dessert and
something to talk about that isn’t ourselves.
Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than twenty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, Trashcans in Love, and his newest, Grief Bacon, as well as the Necro-Files novel series and the flash fiction collection Ray’s Sea World. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue located here: https://medium.com/@howtoeven. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.