Life’s nothing but a hillbilly olympiad to the boys riding refrigerator boxes down the levee. It could be the same for us they seem to croon, if we were a little less deprived. We whisper in the space between when 80s night sputters out and the lights come on, believing it to be a place without time. And to call us Christian goth is not nearly as accurate as to call us goths who happen to be Christian. It’s the difference between being a subset of a subset and being split down the middle but not without hope. We can still talk of how the day the leaves cover your above-ground pool is actually the perfect time of year, when the oaks rise up, cast forest shadows on the graves of all your old pets. Hamster. Gerbil. Hamster. Gerbil. Gerbil. Hamster.
(vi) cold, cold sun
You weren’t like the others at open mike nite. The men’s ties. The cigars. You said we lived in poverty of a hometown. The vacant lots with skinny boys imprisoned in stacks of tires. “The noise we hear in bed is them crying, one to the other,” that frightens us, that makes us reach out for each other. I remember old women burning lotto tickets under your window. How you cried when Christmas got closer, how you rolled up your sleeves trying to explain the best movies are “so bad they produce a separate ectoplasm of themselves that you can watch instead of the actual film,” and flung yourself on the davenport, complaining that even the wine here is candy-colored, though demanding more of it. Now, I feel another layer of skin peel off each time winter is swallowed by the first light of spring. I thought you’d disappear like the guy in mythology who wished for immortality, but forgot to wish for youth, shrinking “till your voice was small as a grasshopper’s leg scraping across a leaf.” Look, I’m sorry I said that. I didn’t mean it. That was a stupid thing to say.
(ix) and i woke to the same
You said “The coffees these days, they give them names like exotic dancers…” It was dark this morning; a wave of crows formed a second sky underneath the real sky. There’s a road that twists through the mountain to your front door. The bullet holes and leg braces in the front yard. Your house has that sweet antiseptic smell, like a bakery inside a hospital. There was coffee, cigarettes. Outside the snow was starting the hard work of burying everything in its path. I tried to tell you about my work. The blades, the smell of meat, the sound of my tools clattering on the stone floor, hoping for some glimmer of pride. You just nodded, as if forgiving some grave stupidity. Tonight, in town, a man will tug the ears of a dog while screaming as some sort of precursor ritual to a night of partying just because there’s no one to say “Look, don’t do that.” But even this can’t escape your notice. I don’t know why I’m telling you.
Justin Lacour lives in New Orleans and has work forthcoming in Natural Bridge and Bayou Magazine.