Achilles

Take a shot

Self loathing and Consciousness walk into a bar

 

and of course, it’s the beginning of a joke, because what would you be if not the funny friend with not enough to laugh about

 

So it goes like this self Loathing arrives twenty minutes late and asks the bartender to open a tab

 

of which only he will be paying

 

And the first round begins

 

Self Loathing is already on his psycho-analyzing bullshit says

 

You take while knowing you can never teach your hands what it means to be full.

 

hours spent clinging to the phone waiting for friends to call just to never pick up  

 

you are most at home in the rusted static of a voice-mail, in runaway Goodbyes and Hellos at arm's length.

 

And so I ask for a drink.

 

Take a shot

 

You snap a wisecrack across your knee and tell your friends about the siblings you will never know, poking fun at empty bedrooms conquered by dust and distance.

 

On bad nights, you lay outside the threshold and slide your smallest finger underneath the doorway cuticles carpet-burned and pink, imagining someone else’s nail bed just within reach

 

Take a shot

 

When you were ten you could block out anything with the hums of a video game cartridge slotted into a gameboy

 

TV static

 

Yelling

 

Window shatter

 

Slammed doors

 

now, you’ve traded pixels with sweated bedsheets and empty cups cemented to desktops. 

 

Take a shot

 

                      You don’t clean your room,content to live pigsty

 

Your closet door will not slide shut because of its rusted hinges you do not ask your father to oil

 

You do not ask your father for anything

 

he has already taught you how this joke goes: Self Loathing and Consciousness walk into a bar

 

and your father keeps beer bottles by the TV set

 

you’re taught by age nine how to use an opener. The first time you try to pry off an aluminum lid, you slice the soft pads of your thumb open.

 

 That night you learn to get blood out of the carpet and cry for hours.



Your father does not stay home; at age ten you teach yourself to use a stove and sear the face of a spatula into your palm the first time you try to make eggs

 

So you get sick on take-out and scrub down the bathroom sink once your father goes to sleep. 

 

Your friends say you smell like bleach in the mornings; they laugh when you say you’re in the business of drinking a cup before bed.

 

And there’s a mother underground somewhere, with a missing face and your smile, and your father claims he does not remember her



Your father does not remember your fifteenth birthday 

Take a shot

 

And you’re afraid

 

you’re afraid that one day you’ll look in the mirror

 

and see that you look exactly like him

 

The last revenants of your relationship found in the color of your eyes

 

the strands of your hair

 

Self loathing tells you to burn it off

 

Consciousness tells you that this is a trick mirror

 

I want to tell you that this is all a trick

 

one elaborate prank.

 

A J o k e

 

Because the punchline has to have hit already.

 

Because the funny friend is still performing

 

and no one is laughing. Of course

 

Because how can I be the funny friend if I’m not constantly cauterizing my wounds into a stand up routine?

 

 Because I’m still performing and no one is laughing and the bottle is empty.

 

Take a shot

 

On the last day of eight grade 

 

you get the superlative for Class Clown.

 

During lunch, your friends laugh and tell you there’s never been a more perfect fit.

 

That night, you go home to a father asleep on the couch and kitchen lights blown out. 

 

The only lift is from the flicker of infomercials on a buzzing television.

 

You turn it off and draw a blanket to your father’s chest. You tell him goodnight

 

you pretend he says it back. On your way to your room you pass by his liquor cabinet

 

You pause

 

You pretend you didn’t

 

Take. A. Shot.

Comments1

  • Keith

    Wow!! Terrific.



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