Dana was busy so I called Anne.
Anne was consoling an entire class
of the young ninja academy after an
especially severe lashing from the
tongue of their ornery but faithful
master. Lisa was coaching the future
representatives of Emptiness about
Emptiness and its appropriate representation.
Juan was writing a story about particle
accelerators, Nina was writing one on
standardized testing. Joe and Leela were
inventing a new pasta sauce. Ed was
researching the mating habits of the
capybara for the Department of Errant
Mammals. Denny was struggling to compile
a list of Creed songs for a black-footed
ferret endangerment awareness marathon
he was running. and there I was, manning
my small wheels, hovering at imperceptible
heights and all my friends were so important.
I really didn't want to believe it.
I was suddenly becoming a focused
character in my own life, a laser of drab comfort.
The jarred and aging preserve of song.
today was ok I guess I finished your
strawberries you were somewhere
else I paced the house making humming
noises do you think I could be a content
creator or at least content I asked the cat
he didn’t answer I did a couple tricks
with a knife and put it in my pocket
walked toward downtown I asked the
universe who is the best spider-man &
I don’t have to tell you what it said
was disappointing & not true I thought
about making a pizza for dinner I didn’t
ask you I didn’t even get the stuff I’m
just telling you about it now you’re
annoyed poking through the cupboards
on tip toe but you don’t really
understand it was these kids you know
yelling & standing there but mostly
yelling what the power of water can
do for you really you don’t
understand they did it with such glee
A small gift, advisor, you
dear idiot. The winds rushed out.
I’m a wide dust of white petals.
Take it as my resignation.
What’s done is. We don’t have to talk about it.
I don’t mind it much, having lost.
LECTURE ON MY NEW HEAD
Students keep asking about my new head.
How much does it weigh? Is it more
flammable or less? How do I keep the bugs out?
Kenny wants to know if it comes with a
different narrator, how much water it can
hold, did I get it on a distant mountain or
whittle it out of balsa wood. Does sleep
still feel like trying to press a hot basketball
underwater with long pickles for arms
asked Mina, which I thought was perceptive.
Do you now understand the sadness of
crocodiles? Kenny again. Can you stop
scrolling? No longer claim the urge to
reach irritably? Was it shrunken when you
found it and did you subsequently rehydrate
it? I was starting to not like Kenny. Did you
steal it from someone higher up? Sally dropped
nonchalantly from the back. I stared at the
ceiling and tried to remember what I was
supposed to teach. Biomechanics, lotion
advertisement, competitive eating. It didn’t
matter anymore. The words were just sounds.
So quickly pummeled by such small and
soft-voiced people, I wanted my old
life back. I felt the whole thing sliding away
like a baby octopus held over dark water.
Then Sally stood up and pulled something
from inside her desk. She walked up to the
podium, a tiny smile cracking her baby face.
Handed me the textbook. We know you’re
dead, professor. We’re just fucking with you.
The doctors had just reattached my arms and legs. I was walking out of the hospital when I saw this guy at a fold-out table selling some knick-knacks in a little basket. I could use a little something, I thought. “What is it?” I said. “A whizzle,” he said. “What’s it do?” I said. “It whizzes,” he said. “It whizzes?” “Yes.” “All by itself?” “Of course.” “That doesn’t work,” I said. “What?” he said. “Take for example the sentence ‘the bullet whizzed past her forehead.’ A bullet is shot by a gun and therefore isn’t the source of its own momentum. A whizzing object has to be thrown or shot,” I said. “Well, this thing isn’t thrown or shot and it still whizzes,” he said. “I don’t think so,” I said. “It does,” he said, making a swooping motion with his hand from side to side and back again. “Real fast.” I looked at him puzzled. “Look man,” he said. “Raindrops can whizz. Asteroids can whizz. Birds can whizz.” “I don’t agree,”’ I said. “Don’t you like life? Don’t you like interesting things? Don’t you want to see something happen?” “No,” I said, “but fuck it, I’ll take one.” I was getting tired. “OK,” he said. They weren’t cheap. I shoved the thing in my pocket glad it was all over with. I walked to the cemetery to talk to all the graves. When I was done, my newly reattached legs were already so tired. I sat down for just a second. When I woke up the whizzle was gone. I guess that’s what a whizzle does, I thought. I walked a little further, borrowed some money, and then went off in search of something other than my earthly duties.
Nothing grows anymore in the crusty circle in the yard
where you were beamed up. It’s been six days—maybe seven.
I can’t remember. The squirrels won’t go near it.
Nor will anyone who could possibly be of any help.
I have e-mailed several law enforcement agencies
about the event and each time I have received no reply.
This morning I droned my way into the kitchen
and dialed the Department of Concern and Support,
and it didn’t go any better.
“But I just saw on the news
that the government admits to being aware
of things like this” I said. “That was another department that said that, sir.
As far as this department is concerned,
those things are still very much nonexistent, sir.”
“Can I have the phone number for that other department then?” I said.
“Gladly I would give it to you sir, but I don’t believe there is one.”
“You mean the number doesn’t exist?”
“As far as this department is concerned, sir—
And I’d like to add, sir, that I am incredibly concerned
On a personal level, but am only able to exhibit my feelings
To the extent that allow our departments to remain mutually exclusive.”
“I understand. Thank you for your honesty.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“I don’t know, is there?”
“Not really,” he said.
Everything is so old and dust-covered
On this earth, Martha. I have tried,
but cannot swallow myself. Late at night
I cross into the circle,
press my cheek against the cold
dirt floor of the world and wait for your hum,
as dead as the ground here.
Nick Minges is a poet in Davis, California. His work has been in HASH, The Bat City Review, Borderlands, Santa Clara Review, Sheepshead Review and others. He is a former reader and copy-editor for the late Levee Magazine and a current MFA student at Saint Mary’s College.