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Jared Coffin

How one time I ended up sleeping in
my car in a snowstorm after being called evil

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I don't show up to Christmas colored with a bluebird
tattoo and a cast like a hard, blue fish slipped mouth-gaping
over my left arm. There is no girl dabbing her lake-black curls

on my chest, no mud-veined man using up all the light. Or if
you can see it, there is. Before the story ends, the man turns
yellow as the men he tried to kill. Then the storm, snow

slow as feathers. The girl with black curls is ash
in my stomach until we are both sanding in refrigerator light
and I notice her black eyebrows and tell her about her

beauty. When I say refrigerator light, I don't mean it
the way you think. I mean it ends perfectly. I mean we
hook our bodies like fingers hook into a wound and it is slick,

illiterate distress, us shining our loneliness
into each other like flashlights, forgetting our hands are
hands. But never mind. Can you see him on the table, the yellow

man with his lips letting in the light, his teeth all gray
pebbles? And the men in tears, sending their voices
into the room, trying to fill it up and suddenly everyone's

hands are untrained, are cantankerous and rubbing the yellow
man's arm whose lips only get wider, whose eyelids
collapse into big toenails. Everyone looks at him

like he's the back of a photograph - everyone says
he needs clownish makeup and a somber party full of people
apologizing. And I laugh, but I am evil.

Notes after unpeeling the bandage:

Do not worry about the feathers. Later,
they reappear, lithe as ever
beneath your skin. Of course
you will not remember if, before,
fingering them under the pine
boughs at the zoo, shadow-jacketed and
coltish, you held them to your arms, tentative
with lightness, smoothing their barbules

between your momentary fingers. The Velcro
shoes that turned the dirt-floor basement on
and off with each step are long rotted and soon
enough you will forget the bison, too, your love
for the bison, how you broke from sleep, and raked
by your love for the bison, turned to mother
and the bright box ready to stiffen the air
with color at her touch. Worse,
you will forget the lurid packages
of your dreams, the bison muting
the plane with his hoof-boom, the faceless
horsemen glossy and letting off
arrows, crosshatching the circus
of blue before the numb cliff drop, the chaos
you painted on paperboard for art
class, adorned with tulip-orange
beads, smooth
and calm to the touch. I am only here

to say everything
subsists. The bison, the crosshatch. Even
the beautiful wounds called lilacs will
repeat in an eventual neighborhood, after
the feathers return to your arms, suffused by the dark
darting drill carrying its noise and its
ink to your skin which has only been revised
over and over as self
deciphers self - the boyhood blankness,
the freckles occurring and punctuating and punctuating
and punctuating until the crosshatch of scars
sprouts dark as lupine when you realize you have
forgotten the feathers and the zoo magic
with feathers where you ran, mangled
your body over the jungle gym, contorting to match
the quick monkeys in the cage beyond the soft
hill and you have forgotten them worse
than the time you forgot the bison,
your love for the bison, despite the two
brown heaps dropping their feet in the field down
the road, ineradicable as the feathers inking your arm.


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Shut the fuck up she yells because she can't
sleep because her roommate is blowing
a guy, noisily, on the couch, because she can't

sleep sponged by noise, because the noise is her
roommate blowing a guy on the couch, the noise
of the guy, the noise of her roommate, the gush,

the pop and gurgle, because she waited
three hours on her back listening
to sirens failing into the city because she wanted

to be polite, not scream dirty shut the fuck
up words, because she believes it's important to be
loose friends with roommates even if they blow

guys every date too soon and have bad collarbone
tattoos over their collarbones and because she is
new, anime and poetry and black twisty-tied trash

bags of clothes growing everywhere, because she just
got kicked out of her parents' school bus-shaped, school
bus-colored basement at a damp 11pm because

she mistakenly told her parents, mom
and stepdad, that she would visit her
boyfriend, beard and gauged ears, on Christmas

because his parents are also assholes but they are mostly
disappeared because his mom is thinned by
chemo because his dad is lost to a California

villa because the now-hospital woman, years
ago, cheated so said the private investigator, the letters,
the ring, the taxes, because no one needs to get caught

hard or wet or both to be counted
a cheater because disappearing counts
as revenge like screaming I think

I might be a dyke to your mom counts
as bonding because even half of this was enough
to spend Christmas because she believes that spending

time with someone is worthwhile
because swapping body heat is comforting because
she is a biological creature because she is

flesh and nerves because nerves need comfort
because chemicals count as emotions even if the word
is too mythic because words count as meaning

and meaning, when mouthed in small apartments
under fake-but-still-shedding pine trees
without ornaments, somehow, very trickily, counts

as commitment which she believes is important
because her parents were never committed except her
real dad because he threatened to kill, with possibly

a fertilizer-crusted shovel, possibly some
fists, left, right / left right left, her
stepdad because he threatened to hit her, lady

or no, because she mistakenly said she would
spend Christmas with her boyfriend
which is why she is telling me this

because she believes I am her
friend because she believes friends, romantic
or not, should be committed because she believes

I believe she is my friend because she believes
I believe that she believes I believe we are friends
because belief is all we have to go on

because we are not gods

except our words
which count as meaning which counts
as commitment which is why,

which is one reason why, I will never
tell her I love her.

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