ARE YOU HERE TO LISTEN
hi it is me noah & i am here to hear why are you here to hear what are you listening to i am listening to you speak i am listening to you listening to me do you fall in love yes do you fall in love often yes do you fall in love forever no do you see the end of the world before your eyes yes do you think that human beings are inherently evil given our current circumstances no i do not think that i think that human beings are not inherently anything i think we can only say we inherently are & are you feeling nauseous yet no are you feeling the pressure yet no do you think socialism has a future in america your questions are making me scared do you think that we are living at the end of civilization yes sometimes why there is a trans genocide & we are at war all over the globe & they will bomb ukraine with nuclear weapons do you think that love is the answer no i don’t know i don’t do you think that our government cares about you no do you think that our government cares about anyone no who do you think they care about i think they care about themselves are you in support of bombing the capital yes but not in the way you expect & i won’t say any more do you think you portray your gender clearly no i do not but i do my best are you a man or a woman i am neither are you the type of person who is overcome with bystander syndrome no i have intervened many times are you feeling depressed only sometimes but i am ok now what helps you when you are depressed drugs sometimes people sometimes but mostly the ten years of therapy i have been in since 2013 do you think therapy is for everyone no why do you say that i think that there are some bad therapists out there do you think there are bad people out there i don’t know if i would say bad people do you think socialism has a future in america yes do you think change is possible yes do you think bad people can change yes do you think everything is forgivable yes yes & yes
A BIRD PERCHES ON MY RIBS
This is a story—the embroidered seams of what seems to be real
burning down with the terror in the wall. I hallucinate and place rocks
on the graves of the damned, place bits of cut-off skin to my lips. There is a stone
fruit rotting on my windowsill and all I can think is this is my body, imperfect
and impressionable. Memories are held in the muscles, emptiness
held in the skull, bags under my eyes and ready to leap from buildings
my past selves are ghosts and have inhabited the urns which house
the ashes of perishable idols. A tree sprouts from my torso—Acer saccharum.
Transformative Tantalean punishments under an ugly sky
with thunder and my arms are outstretched to its clouds overdosing
on Klonopin wasn’t enough I had to scream at my father and lock myself
in a white room where there are bubbles of drool hanging from my tongue. Blood
-streams from my temple where there are burnmarks.
There was a blood alcohol content of .28 when they pumped my stomach
I am on drugs and pay gladly for my destruction. There have been times,
times where I have swung sledgehammers at rocks which have been thrown
through windows. Times where I have left knife scars on my necks, times
where I have placed my lips to the chests of beautiful bodies. Molotov cocktails
spin towards those I kiss. I am at home here, in the archeological skin
act of placing letters to my fingertips.
And I’ve lived in this body so long that it is incidental with the mask
of the enemy and I am not one of them. I misread horoscopes
and tarot decks inform me that I will not live past 24. It’s too late
for that desecration now. I have defied all of the old gods,
no matter how hard I’ve tried to fulfill prophecies of pejorative degradation.
I grew up with my grandmother and when she died I poisoned myself
with the same acidic toxicant that almost killed me, lived
with an animal who saved my life, tried to die twice and twice failed.
I ask my friends to place pistol whips to my forehead, pray to the holiness
that has become me to create new worlds in the psychotic mind.
All this I present to you, a ribbon holding my skull to my neck, the only thing
keeping me alive. A statue has broken arms until it is
restored by wrinkled hands in an autopsy room. Outside, a sparrow
on a telephone pole lets loose a melody, and there is nothing
like there is love whispered into my cochlea by
voices disembodied. It is an ugly thing that I see when I am asleep,
wrapped in bandages, arteries outstretched to medical machines
and there is nothing like there is love whispered into my cochlea
by the ones who scribble notes on the cast that surrounds my revelation.
There is a forest inside my body and I am preventing flames from spreading
as I transform into the angel that I once was again.
TRANSFORMED BY MUD
after Julie Howd
Every day it is the same. I blow
through my bank account. Burn
bridges until they sink into the water.
Desperately die to try. Desire a life
full of firsts. There is a forest
in my mind. Every day it is the same
and I lie down in the mud. Slop of
eternity house to a thousand trees.
Nyssa sylvatica. The mud stretches for
miles. Every day it is the same. I
commune with the dead with the
eternal. Tear at my flesh
until it is scabbed. Every day flagellated
in the face of raw entropy.
ON BEING CALLED FAGGOT AT THE FAMILY FUNCTION
I come from dark matter and
troubling tumbles down stairs
and have fallen directly into
my body; there’s something
upsetting in the air. I was a child
when you knew me last and
today I am a girl on fire, a doll
tied together with rubber bands,
bunker of deception, I am a
girl today, and tomorrow I will
not be. But there’s still a war
and massacres in Colorado and
Quercus palustris or my own
protection is shrouded in snow and
even with all of this I’ve travelled
through 9 rings of hellish suicide
and drug addiction and loss
and everything else
and somehow I’m too sensitive
for asking about the woman
whose home you left a dead squirrel in
and I know you fight
and you are a big strong man
but say it to my face, coward.
You have to be insane to have lost your mind. You
overwhelmed with distrust, you overcome with
the shakes. You have to cut yourself into
rags and tie them around trees, looping ribbons
of flesh around bark-collared trunks. You have
to desecrate. You have to scream at your parents
when you took acid at 19 you were touched wrong.
You have to steal from them, you have to tell them
you’re worthless. They have to hit you when you’re young.
You have to wrap your fingers around
the shaft of a hammer swinging towards the window,
glass explodes leaving slivers in your hands and face.
You throw up when you try oxy for the first time. You
have to try oxy for the first time. You have to be poor,
in the slums of capitalist hellholes; have to be degraded,
having no worth; waste your money on tattoos and
drinks; manically tongue someone else’s mouth. You
have to walk through rag and rudder, down the trail
to the lake of dark water in which you were born.
You have to be immune to communion and
a rebellion of love. A puritanical heart never
got anyone anywhere. You have to be a slut
when the apocalypse comes. The more bodies
for the pile the better. You have to get in fights
and be knocked down by officers, have to storm away
and run off and abandon and torture all those you love;
have to watch as they do the same. You have to not know
anything else than this. You have to be flagellated,
like that guy in Da Vinci Code, worn with scars
and teary-eyed. You have to try to die, you have to
let this inform your thirst for living.
All of this I’ve done, and it’s brought me here,
all for this, a conversation, a tumult.
Noah David Roberts (they/them) is a non-binary poet and artist based in Philadelphia, PA. Roberts has released 4 collections: Us v. Them (2017), about the nature of sexual trauma and political violence; Strips, a divagation of the self, an endless ranting masterpiece; Slime Thing [and other poems], a scream of anti-capitalism and stream of frustrated proletariat consciousness; and Final Girl Mythos, inspired by classic 80s and 90s slasher movies. Since publication of their first book, Roberts has been published in Big Scream, Big Hammer, Tribes Magazine, Horror Sleaze Trash, and more. In 2022, Roberts won the Judith Stark poetry contest. Their Instagram handle is @the.apocalypse.poet.