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JD Scott


He Leaves Mt. Olympus to Go Home for Christmas


Sometimes the top button being buttoned

is cuter than it being unbuttoned


I am not trying to teach a lesson

or create a binary out of buttons


I would just rather be out back

on the lanai smoking a cigarette

with the other people who smoke

cigarettes and slap mosquitos

in between puffs


Somewhere there are giant insects with cartoon

straws blowing blood and today I saw a sign

that said FOG SMOKE although neither

filled the air in that moment


And do you think you could drive

a car into a cathedral made of mirrors

and what

if anything

does that have to do with being brave


I saw a photo of a rhino on the internet

with its horn cut off just lying there

in its pulp waiting to die



my mom told me she wanted a dog

and I said she should adopt an older one

which we both knew meant I was afraid

that the dog would outlive her and I

would have to look after a dog that would remind

me of my dead mother so she will not be gifted

a dog on Christmas

which is soon


In the morning it will be Christmas

and I will wear

this vertical striped button-up that is white

red and green


Mostly it reminds me of Little Italy

but tomorrow it will remind me of Christmas


I don't need an answer tonight because

it’s past midnight and yes technically Christmas

and everyone is asleep except me

who drank coffee in a rental car in the suburbs

while I convinced myself I deserved to be loved

and met my eyes in the reflection

of a closed storefront

with fake snow half-obscuring my face


Which means tonight I want to be forgiven


Tomorrow I will give the others as much

as I can


I mostly mean something beyond the physical


The caffeine haunt I keep tight in my chest


My mother who will die one day

like that rhino

like me


But until then I will stay quiet and listen

to the passive hum of the lights on the tree

and button my shirt up to the top button

in the mirror because that is what looks good

right now

in the present

and isn't that what counts in the end?






Heaven's Gate

“No one wants to go out—except when they are at their brightest.”
I am cautious of your platitudes. The marble pillars, the gold leaf
carefully wrapped around the metal fence. Come to think
of it—we are always standing outside of some promise,

some edifice. To escape all this dazzling hurt that has been done,
I must continue to have epiphanies like an ormolu mansion

forming upon clouds. Something both flashy and absurd.
Do you think it snows in heaven? I grew up being told
we would die, residing in impossible sky manors. I am unsure

this prescribed destiny fits me. By my wager, the streets

of my afterlife are paved in pewter, and I still provide free

labor for all eternity—paying rent for some formica-and-

knotty-pine fiasco. In my heaven, you still punch plaster walls.

In my heaven, every room is coated in reproductions of French

excess. In my heaven, you still backwash into the wine glass, sleep

on the wrong side of the bed, believe in platitudes like, “We all die

alone!” If an angel holds a book, that book does not contain

my name. If I die with change in my pocket, that coinage

is not enough for the interstellar tolls of some cult’s passing comet.
In heaven, I hope there are pineapples. In heaven, I hope
you are not there. I summoned you only to cast you aside again.

I quote you out of hatred. This is a feat, my attempt at bioluminescence.
I loved you so much I let you bash me in the shoulder blades
until angel wings formed. If there’s wisdom in these words,

then let me die now. Let a single stone bash me in the temple.
Each line in the Book of Names is an analog to the wicked.
Ink, bruise, white Nikes, snow. I no longer believe in atonement.
This morning I slipped on the slush, as it's February in Brooklyn,
and the sun warmed me as I laid on the cement in my neighborhood,
and I saw an old women carrying a religious text, and she laughed.

I slipped, saw the sun, understood how something so warm and bright
could come into being as its own god. Or, a shiny alloy of a god.

I wonder if you thought the same thought when you slipped down
the stairs and your brain swelled into a frozen mass. In the hospital,

I still wonder who gave the order. I am not a doctor so I don’t know
the right words for when down starts to grow out of your skin.
You said not to be presumptuous about the body’s failings,
but you were not the one who had to keep on living. There is
a horrible crown of pushpins I wear over my robe when I walk
down the street when it snows, which is does, as it's February,
and I'm afraid of walking beside iron gates, of slipping sideways,

spearhead finials entering into my brain. I'm afraid that when I die

there will be no light, that when I go I will have nowhere

to go and these dog shit wings will keep flapping and flapping and flapping against the earth.

JD Scott is a writer, editor, and the author of two chapbooks. Recent and forthcoming publications include Best American Experimental Writing, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Salt Hill, Sonora Review, The Pinch, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. More of JD can be found at

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