ISSUE TEN | SPRING 2018
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
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
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
in the present
and isn't that what counts in the end?
“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 jdscott.com.