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Two Poems | John Lapine



Sprawl


“And there's no end in sight,

I need the darkness

Someone please cut the lights“

—Arcade Fire

I tell my class I’m feeling blue today / Each time I enter the freeway, I feel closer / to death /

My armpits get damp / In my fantasies / you still hold my hand / Someone offers up homesickness / A coworker reminds me that driving requires a kind of cognitive dissonance/

I teach them about fake news and Prop 187 / You’re rubbing my finger as I’m falling asleep / Always check your blind spot / We never talked about what we were until / you decided we weren’t / I almost nap in my driveway / and the heat in my car wakes me up / These days, I swallow multivitamins with wine / I choose red because it feels like I’m driving a stop sign / There’s always some new building springing up in this town / My students frequently tell me they feel / hopeless / After the fire / many of my students are / homeless / On the drive home / I pass a semi with no tailgate door / For a moment, I think about / calling / to ask / What made you stop calling? / For a moment, I imagine driving into that black gape / The way it might swallow me like wine / She says, You have to forget that you’re always a sneeze away from a crash / What would disappearing sound like? / My knuckles blanch at ten and two / I tell my students, We're the adults now / We make the change / I am curious / and afraid to know the answer / if / something bigger waits for me / at the end.



Unpack


I surround myself with loneliness

intentionally. I am not permanent.


Once, afraid to unpack and buy

furniture, I spent three years living


out of cardboard boxes. Sometimes my edges feel

like cardboard. I can spell that out, if you’d like.


I have an app for pizza delivery,

sandwich delivery, and Target;


I have an app for blowjobs, and it rarely works.

There’s no emoji for cuddling and I find


that sad. One day I want to be somebody’s

dad. To marry you in Portland.


I am my biggest problem. Trace the places

where blood pools and makes me


pink: my lips, ears, knuckles. There is still

room in my heart for a man


who I’m not yet sure exists. At night

I feel myself become more real. In my palm


I cradle a box of matches and make

believe I've burned this all down.





John LaPine earned his MA in creative writing & pedagogy from Northern Michigan University (NMU), where he volunteered as an associate editor of creative nonfiction & poetry for the literary journal Passages North. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: The Rising Phoenix Review, Hot Metal Bridge, The /Temz/ Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Under the Gum Tree, Rhythm & Bones, Midwestern Gothic, & elsewhere. His first chapbook of essays, An Unstable Container, is forthcoming from Bull City Press in 2019. He teaches English at Butte College.