May 27, 2020KR OnlinePoetry

Chronic; Bad Romance


which is another word for again which is another word for relentless let’s talk about relentlessness three autumns on a dimmer switch three pale winters where I can’t get warm & three electric sparkling green springs collapsing into summers hung loose at the hinges skin waking up once numb now reanimate & alien bursting with sensation I feel my shoulder jump & I twist it & I twist it & I twist it I scratch my palms & the soles of my feet the itch that can’t be reached I wring my hands until they ache & aching they find something is it relief I need & buy & search & buy & want & buy & can’t bear it until it gets here what’s coming again today there are more perfumes than I will ever wear standing unsprayed in the perfume closet yes I had to make

a perfume closet now the door slightly ajar & unmoved for seven months seven months that feel like forty days why hold back I have been in bed since my last best day I passed a test drank a beer I sometimes strip the gunk from my teeth never wear socks socks are hard first find clean ones pair them up sit down put them on sitting down is hard my shoes I can slip on from standing that is to say I only wear shoes I can slip on from standing canvas pull-ons slipping sideways into ice puddles my toes freezing a shower per month don’t get close let me tell you again don’t get close I’m going back to bed I love you but I’m going back to bed I remember I loved you but I’m going back to bed & I’m putting on the space heater don’t speak to me unless you are

a space heater this stuffed bear is big enough to hold me I named him bear because I can’t & being held I will hold this stuffed penguin & this weird clay doll my grandfather gave me in the ’80s her name is Nancy as in Reagan because my  dad worked for the Republicans she is part solid earth part velvet all top heavy ponderous her eyes closed she looks vaguely dead & I understand precisely how she feels vaguely dead she & the animals can stay with me in bed not the cat he prefers the floor with the clothes & the garbage OK fuck we’ve come this far let’s talk about the garbage I’ll tell you what there is in this bed wrappers for Twinkies & Snoballs & SuzyQs there is Snapple & Gatorade & boxes of lemon-creme cookies a collection

of Häagen-Dazs cartons cause that’s what they sell at Sarah’s there are mood stabilizers  & antipsychotics carbamazepine lithium risperidone quetiapine clonazepam there is no ziprasidone that one made me comatose there is no gabapentin that one made me slow as in my thoughts felt like tadpoles small & slippery & I was too slow to catch them no nortriptyline or duloxetine they made me want to grow my debt & talk too loud & fuck everything there’s also metformin verapamil rizatriptan ondansetron diphenhydramine & cholestyramine because I’m forty-two & my head hurts & my gut hurts & my sugar’s up there are romance novels pink covers with frothy bodices muscles lots of cowboy hats romance novels good ones & bad ones I like the bad ones


Bad Romance

Protecting Caroline Marrying Caroline Protecting Fiona Protecting Summer Protecting Cheyenne Protecting Alabama Protecting Alabama’s Kids Protecting Dakota Protecting the Future Defending Allye Defending Chloe Securing Caite Securing Sidney Securing Piper Rescuing Casey Rescuing Macie & though I have never thought of myself as needing defense or security or protection or rescue I run out of good romance my paperbacks from the ’90s already quintuple-read I am left with e-books insta-romance as uncomplicated as Chicken McNuggets they are available & cheap  delicious (if you like to get it the way Susan Stoker likes to get it) & downloadable the way no one intended series on top of series + crossovers + side novellas + sneak peaks of prewritten sequels self-edited  complete with typos & guarantees stamped HEA for happily ever after a talisman against ordinary catastrophe Susan likes her men hyperbutch gigantic & eager to marry & her women infinitesimal clever beautiful without makeup cool in that they never complain nothing like me they feel smooth & soft & as real-like as silicone I take my HEAs straight to bed & I stay there for months while my mother says hello says Mandy says I love you says it’s Thanksgiving it’s Christmas come to the table now it’s Easter put that device down baby your life is passing you by this is what being rescued looks like a hand & the refusal of a hand I roll over on the bed too inert to phone the hospital I keep my schedule a novel a day my dose of obliteration as regular as antipsychotics even their titles seem machine-pressed if you like one there’s a series read Protecting . . . twelve more times one device ×twelve hours ×infinite days each warm & snug & decisionless & safe