Poetry & Prose

parasocial (do you copy?)

my downstairs neighbors keep spoiling patriots games for me.
guess their cable is a bit faster than our streaming service
their hoots and hollers give away the score, seconds before.
otherwise, they are perfectly quiet,
perfect neighbors.
despite years of dwelling in the same structure,
i do not know them
except my mild amusement on sundays
at their overblown reactions.
there is something sickly, half-anemic
in living atop each other’s breaths and feet
the whole time only grumbling,
hello, how are you, doing fine, you,
only silently synchronizing
taking turns shoveling the snowed-in sidewalk.

i’m thinking of you again
and when we met, years ago,
entwined in newborn adolescent panic.
how with eroded hands, rubbed raw
i joined you in drowning
in a sea of mundane horror,
rhythmic, everyday woe;
the expected crest and fall of darkness
when the sun starts departing swiftly at three
on the moors of northern england.
i twisted your distant words up within myself:
a cancerous kaleidoscope of images
radiating from afar
replicating themselves under the tongue,
in the biochemistry of the brain;
a collision worthy of fate’s hand
or perhaps a mistake of coincidence.

i begged to break my body
to squeeze through
undersea cables
and greet you with my
bewitched heart in my mouth!
but even then,
you wouldn’t have known what to do
with the disemboweled,
parasocial organ of
a stranger.
now i will never be able to look out of eyes
free of your cataracts, that don’t
leave lines in my peripheral
where your form displaces the light.

i saw a tweet once about
la croix, the seltzer brand,
how it tastes like tv static
and someone shouting the name of a fruit in another room.
raspberry lime!
little licks, hints, whispers
are filtering in,
only pixelated visions
and garbled fragments of a voice…
i feel like a lonely tupperware
lost without a lid
shoved up in a cupboard somewhere.
i see your words replicated,
sprawled across the topography of the web,
i think, they don’t know you like i do.
but i don’t know you either

and there’s a man who always calls
around 11 a.m. tuesday, during my radio show
to make requests or just to compliment the music.
and i always get a little sad when classes end
not to see the same strange faces every week;
an aching departure in miniature
every time a class comes to a close.
and sometimes another neighbor
washes dishes alongside me
we see each other through the windows
our hair in messy knots, wearing old dingy sweatshirts
we mimic but do not approach.

suspended, immobile, webbed in glass
i’m hurling my body at the bonds,
hoping for a hint of a fissure,
seeing nothing.
you, they, whoever, all
reach in and press on me from one million sides.
my teeth are painfully cold
stinging from the static
and our mouths are full of cotton balls
clogging up and
drying out the sputum of our throats.
everyone wants everyone so bad!
(yet in this great tragedy of distance
no one can be had.)