POETRY by Brockman

by Nathan Brockman

I am a failed snake oil salesman and this is my final pitch.

I was born under a rainbow waterfall but will die under an allergy umbrella.

Our bridge was not made of stone, and when you burned it you never looked back.

You jumped from the coffin and I jumped into traffic.

I nearly drown every time I climb out of my fish bowl.

Bad dreams only remind me of me.

There’s no warmth in my paper hands. They’re out of circulation. They don’t deliver.

The object I am most like is a tricycle—I’m still learning.

I went to a guru and she gave me a mantra. It goes like this: “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter…”

People often stop me on the street to ask if I’m okay. I frown nervously, holding a hammer.

Overheard at the hardware store: Q.: What kind of steak does an anteater eat? A.: Termite steaks.

I row my boat.

I miss your raccoon eyes glowing in the darkness, but I don’t miss the trash you used to bring home.

I row my boat.

This gin is atmospheric. It’s in my lungs. It’s foreshadowing. More of the same with this Charlemagne champagne.

I hope to wake up to the scent of a fresh, woodsy spruce on the morning of my death.

Sometimes I think up new slogans for pharmaceutical companies while sifting through the medicine cabinet. My drugs suck.

“It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter…”

I saw a fat man walking his giant pet terrapin downtown today. While riding past him fast on my bike, I heard him say, “I can’t afford it now. I can only afford pimento cheese.”

You left post-it notes on my desk with little missives like, “I broke your bowl while doing the dishes. It shattered. Also, the pot on the stove is full of water. It’s boiling.”

You sent text messages, too. Like this one: “I’m going to bed. I just wanted to say goodnight and that I have no idea what you said to me after I gave you the finger.”

Landscapes, like humans, are not permanent.

Niagara Falls is eroding, and when it erodes enough the Great Lakes could empty out and dry up. But to what extent will its carcass resemble the Grand Canyon?

Overheard in the men’s room: Q.: Who gives a shit? A.: I’m trying.

I row my boat.

The majority of cowards on Earth are those with hostile, passive-aggressive bumper stickers on their cars.

I enjoy pronouncing the word cerulean. Suh-rool-ee-un. I’ll sing it from the rooftops.

If I had to summarize our relationship with one sentence, it would be: My hands were full and yours were not, yet you expected me to open the door.

I’m tired of struggling. To stay awake. To stay in people’s lives.

“It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter…”

At this point in my life I am fully aware that I’m selfish, rude and awkward, and that I’ll probably never change my fuckface behavior.

We named our sexual misbehavior D.H. Lawrencing, in honor of the author, who was one of your faves. I read passages from your copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover when we first started dating, and I found it amusing that one of Lady Chatterley’s lovers continued fucking her after he had already released his seed into her womb. I used this bit of fiction as inspiration to maintain my erection during our own hamstringing marathons, but whenever I thought I felt my leakage seeping out I’d stop and pretend that I had just reached climax. You never knew the difference.

Wondering what’s worse: to be threatened with bodily harm or with bodily fluids.

You used to mumble things in your sleep, and on one memorable occasion you whispered, “I want to climb inside your skeleton.”

In a town of repetition, I seethe in silence.

One night in bed when the end was near, I started kissing your neck and you said, “Stop trying to seduce me,” and I said, “I’m not seducing you.” And you smiled, “I know.”

Now I’m planning the great American road trip we always said we’d go on but never did, and I’m taking the trip alone.

I row my boat.

Yesterday I fell asleep on a giant map of North America and woke up lying all over the United States. I can now say I’ve been everywhere.

My boat, I row.

I often woke up in the middle of the night with your elbow in my face or your arm resting on my forehead. And when I’d move your arm away, you’d sometimes make a noise or whimper, and quickly shift your body in the other direction, moving your legs on or in between my own. I learned to sleep this way. It made me smile.

Nathan Brockman enjoys tacos, the Criterion Collection, and his local library branch. He is currently at work on a novella, Without Bread & Butter, an excerpt of which is published above.