Austin Beaton

Heartbreak Effigy


Suppose something happens other

than a stranger grabbing her mocha

when I hear my ex lover’s name yelled by the barista.

Maybe I die one Tuesday later

or a wide receiver in Louisiana—

where I’ve never been,

& can forget is the holster for New Orleans—

contracts his sixth concussion & so retires

(one short of assuring he would kill his mother, himself,

the Labrador Retriever). It could even be smaller.

If the sickness of finding a photo of her

with smiling alien humans

space traveled from Planet Closure

causes the man on my bus

playing Peekaboo with his reflection

to pronate his hands outward & face himself--then what?

Would this be better? Let’s say conspiring with her

to trespass barbed wire guarding the subconscious

while I touch myself

allows a freshman to counterfeit tickets

to see Rihanna

in the basketball arena on campus.

It’s a little like taxes: I forget her favorite cousin’s name,

which nostril the nose ring lived

& months later an intern remembers

she shouldn’t feel inadequate

when she hears the word affidavit.

Quite possibly my imagining us married

in the part of the multiverse

where I’m a chocolatier who plays cello

helps your imagining the office keyboard

a beige piano making love ballad email.

I don’t know, but right now

I want how I feel to have everything to do

with productivity, the pain

an extra joule spun in Earth’s crank

& not just my brain coming off its dopamine,

not just me circling the suburban cul-de-sac of grief,

staring at the downtown skyline,

wishing it on fire.

Austin Beaton poems

Austin Beaton studied Spanish and grief at the University of Oregon, where he was a finalist for the Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Competition in Poetry. His work has appeared in Boston Accent, Peach Mag, The Stay Project, (b)OINK, Porridge Magazine, Voicemail Poems, Anti-Heroin Chic and is forthcoming in The Airgonaut and the Angel City Review. He lives near the ocean in San Luis Obispo, California where he swallows figs and gives nicknames.