OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 4
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 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.