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February 8, 2023 Poetry


Blake Middleton

fragments photo

in the midst of a historic crisis, i ride my bike to the river


the perfect amount of wine is 1-8 glasses


the government should give me millions of dollars


the inexorable seriousness of life and the detached hilarity of life


the hallway smells of tater tots


unregretfully i’ve written off entire years


everything happening outside my apartment is not happening


i stay in place for a while and it’s good


the weather is nice and my hangover is zen-like


my brain is thinking of itself as a beached fish


the louder the world gets, the quieter i want to be 


conflicting self-interests occur all the time


i’m tired of paying rent


i’ve become close friends with a park bench 


ironic detachment as an escape from routine


a sunday afternoon prolonged for months


mistook bacon sizzling for heavy rain


outside it’s cold and i don’t want to go to work


would like to be a college professor so i can have a little room in which to hide


my doubts are ferocious


i feel senile


i live in the united states


i drink wine with j. and a.


i read cioran on my off days


i think about money until i’m exhausted


i stare at the river


i think ooh la la at the river


just saw a puppy the size of a dinner roll


eating garlic knots naked at 2:30 am


insane coworker: ‘the moon is hollow, bro’


admiring some clouds from a park bench, trying not to think about anything


i’ve been tired for a while, but i still love the world


i use wine to activate my brain


i feel bad for people


i concoct succulent fragments in droll isolation


i nurture life-sustaining delusions


i don’t think about the government 


i go through the motions while thinking ‘rock n roll’ repetitively


stoner coworker: ‘i’m in love with my inflatable hot tub’


i make a habit of emitting dramatically prolonged sighs while staring at the river


a couple at the park instructs their baby to stop eating tree bark


watching a reality show where the winner wins a reality show


i accept the many disappointments of life


i drink wine and act gremlin-like


meanings accrue; questions arise; you laugh when you least expect to laugh


stimulus check doubled my net worth


i crave situations that don’t require thinking


necessity nudges me and i move through the world


a stranger: ‘i go out to the same bars over and over again’ 


sitting outside an empty bar, my unemployed friend explains various alt-coins to me


sat down on the toilet to pee in complete darkness


i get sweaty on my bike ride to work


i don’t think about the future too much


i give in to the noises of actual life


i pay my car insurance online


i nearly choke to death on fried rice


age softens disappointment


nostalgia and irony replace overt intensity


npr: ‘this has been a really rough time for babies’ 


i focus on the immediate, what’s in front of me 


i laugh at a frondless palm tree


lately i’ve been baffled that no one cares about aliens


can’t stop plucking out my eyebrows


we work so hard for such small things


my car breaks down


my uber driver is a 9/11 survivor 


that says god blesses him with everything he needs


then: ‘maybe i should start playing the lottery’


sartre: ‘man is what he wills himself to be’


sartre: ‘after i took mescaline, i started seeing crabs around me all the time. i would wake up in the morning and say ‘good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?’’ 


e.m. cioran: ‘in the days when i set off on month-long bicycle trips across france, my greatest pleasure was to stop in country cemeteries, to stretch out between two graves, and to smoke for hours on end. i think of those days as the most active period of my life’


richard brautigan: ‘all of us have a place in history. mine is clouds’


vegan coworker: ‘my mom smokes dmt’ 


the grease-trap alarm screams  


people need alcohol


it’s almost unbelievable, everything 


i get my second vaccine shot


in what used to be a sears


in what is still designated the ‘ladies intimates’ section


i’m eating fried chicken in a dive bar


i spend $180 on an uber to central florida to crash with friends at a cabin near a spring


the uber driver blasts tool and yells about skydiving and guns


i’m singing jimmy buffet with the boys again


i suggest we empty out a milk jug and fill it with alcoholic seltzer water and bring it with us to a state park


z. eats mushrooms before we go tubing


while floating down the river he argues that we live in an anti-cumming society, then tries to catch a fish with his bare hands


an argument about subtitles ends with c. shaking his penis and balls at v. 


i alternate between the pool and the hot tub


c. is wearing his flashiest tracksuit


gradually december feels unreal, like it never happened


other people can have big thoughts about things


i’m happy just knowing what’s good in life, and holding onto it


i’m behaving irresponsibly with fireworks


e. holds up a tomahawk steak the size of his head next to his head


i’m boarding a plane to nyc with a. 


we approach the runway


instead of taking off, the pilot drives the plane around aimlessly


i look out the window


we’re back at the gate


the pilot comes on the intercom and says the plane is broken: ‘there is a chance that one of the engines might kick the plane into reverse mid-air’


they kick us off the plane; we’re sitting in the airport chili’s, ordering airport chicken fingers on a's phone 


the reading starts at 7:30; the flight has been delayed until 4:00


i’m supposed to read at, and also host the thing 


we uber straight to kgb with all of our luggage


i drink five budweisers faster than i’ve ever drank five budweisers


i introduce a. as a poet and firefighter: ‘that uses water to put out fires and words to ignite the soul’


he reads ‘i wish the cats that fight outside of my window had guns’


and: ‘no one tells you to stop what you’re doing before you’ve been doing it for way too long’


g.g. reads about tying his penis in a knot and jizzing on a burglar


b. reads a poem about livermush and waffle house 


back at the airbnb, i have a hamburger in one hand and philly cheesesteak in the other


the sun comes out again and we get lost on the subway


eventually we make it to the 9/11 memorial museum


i sweat a lot inside of the 9/11 memorial museum


i sweat more than is okay and speed-walk toward the exit


some guy tells me to stop vaping while staring into the 9/11 hole 


to calm down we drink $20 dollar cocktails with h. and s. 


we stop at a bodega to pick up some beer on our way to p’s


the bodega looks like a storage unit that also sells beer


outside the bodega is a poorly-drawn joker mural; the joker is hanging out with biggie smalls


at p’s we sit on couches and watch a visual album he made during quarantine


the actor in ‘jonathan franzen’s assistant messaged me out of the blue’ is very convincing


i don’t know enough about what jonathan franzen looks like to know it’s not actually him


‘thicc wario’ is a beautiful work of art


i feel moved by ‘peter bd, bitch’ 


we climb a ladder inside of his bathtub up to his rooftop


a lawyer that loves cocaine yells about being confused that he’s a lawyer 


a guy with an awesome mustache asks a. if he’s really a firefighter, then tells us that we lie too much


i’m having trouble remembering the rest of the night


i’m out in the world again not remembering things


in the morning we take the subway to barney greengrass and eat delicious smoked fish then walk through central park, sweating heavily


we sit at the top of a long hill and watch bicyclists struggle up it


at moma i stare at les demoiselles d'avignon for fifteen minutes 


i’m in a crowded museum, feeling moved by priceless artwork again


we meet h. and s. at a restaurant called mexico 2000 because it was close to the airbnb and called mexico 2000


we drink tommy’s margs and sangria and presidentes and h. discusses deep fake porn in front of his fiance


it’s saturday night and we’re the only people in a restaurant called mexico 2000


we walk to a bar in williamsburg that used to be a pool supply store and meet h’s awkward improv friends


i’m wearing a tracksuit and drinking red wine from a water glass


it looks like i’m drinking eight ounces of fernet


some dude from the show i think you should leave is there and i fail to convince h. to whisper ‘i think you should leave’ in this ear


back at the airbnb, a., g.g., and i dance to songs we love and hug each other powerfully


‘seasons chaaange’ we sing


‘i’ve been waiting on you,’ we sing, and point in each other’s faces


the sun does it’s thing again and we walk to kellogg’s diner and i eat three onion rings and some egg that’s hanging off the side of my breakfast sandwich


a. and g.g. eat some mushrooms


g.g. goes to the bathroom to poop or throw up or something


i accidently gave k. the copy i was going to read from, the one with a lot of lines marked off 


we get in the uber to governors island to read at a poetry festival we know nothing about


there’s no air conditioning in the uber and i’m just in there hungover crossing out lines and ripping out pages from my book and it feels insane


a little kid tries to ride her bike onto the ferry and the ferry dude gets upset: ‘who’s kid is this?... you gotta be kiddin’ me... unbelievable’


we’re on a ferry; we’re taking pictures; some idiot looks just like ginsberg


at a little bier garden on the island i order three alcoholic seltzer waters and a boxed water, chug the boxed water, fill it with alcoholic seltzer water, and put the other two alcoholic seltzer waters in the inner pocket of my tracksuit


we walk to meet the publishers and an alcoholic seltzer water falls out of my tracksuit pocket and it’s funny, the way it plops and rolls


g.g. reads about the fascists at claire’s refusing to pierce his penis


i read ‘herring fish communicate with farts’ then make a farting noise into the microphone


there’s less than a dozen people in the crowd


we hangout with the publishers again and one publisher is wearing big cowboy boots and i ask him if i can trade all my future royalty checks for his cowboy boots and he tells me no (which was smart, i made like $50 from that book)


we go buy more alcoholic seltzer water at the bier garden thing


we shotgun alcoholic seltzer water together and g.g. screams ‘i love reading and writing poetry’ then throws his alcoholic seltzer water on the ground


near the manhattan ferry we’re at an outdoor bar that looks too idealyc to be real and g.g. pees in a stall with his entire ass out


i refuse a shot of tequila because it’s the middle of the day and i’m too drunk for how bright the sun is


back at the airbnb we make videos of g.g. ripping up/kicking our books on the sidewalk


we go upstairs and share my leftover breakfast sandwich and dance in our underwear


‘seasons change’ we sing


‘i’ve been waiting on you,’ we sing, and point at each other’s faces


but it’s time to go home again


at the jfk airport a janitor asks a. and i if we’re confused


we say that we are


‘where are you trying to go?’ he says


‘to the place where planes fly away’ a. says


outside the gate, there’s a small bird sitting on the chair across from us


a. asks me if i see it


i tell him i don’t


he stands two feet from the bird, points directly at it, and yells: ‘tell me you see it’


i say ‘there’s nothing there’