FOR HERE THERE IS NO PLACE

You’ve figured out the colonization of Mars
and the need to live in caves for five hundred years.
You’ve predicted private nuclear weapons,
deciphered symbols of bigotry on some trump cards.
You’ve held cookouts with revolutionaries
on the wrong end of a burning national park.
But when they Skype you up,
flashing their press credentials,
all they want to know about
is your seven-year relationship.

You’ve built roller-coasters under the boots of soldiers.
You’ve fed dumbstruck children tales of exploding blimps,
only finding rest for an hour or two
in the triangular living room of an angry oat farmer.
You’ve noticed it usually rains on the evenings you give public speeches.
But when they ask about the source of your depression,
they fail to notice all the dead trees in the forest
and the garbage patches around the oceans.
They just want to know your ex’s rating
on the attractiveness scale.

When you scoff at them, they liken you to a deer
stupidly dashing away from a Lego car.
They photograph your belly from below.
They wait till you open your mouth at a crooked angle
then invite an award-winning sketch artist to meld your face
onto the body of a beached whale.
You get into indie films, but they put a pomelo
in your mouth and laugh at your eyebrows.
They pay for an ad on the side of a passing train
condemning your manifesto on acid rain.
When you tell them to fuck off, they revoke your voice.

At a cafe, you’re one hundred seventy pages
into the second draft of your hardball reboot
of personal responsibility
when a honcho with an insecure grin
streams your ugly forehead to the world.
When you can’t help but talk for several hours
to a disgraced firebrand with a stunning face,
a ripped lilac dress, and seventeen Twitter followers,
the honcho writes an editorial arguing
that you’re one of the world’s bigger problems.

And so you dream of walking into the sea,
just melting into the waves. You want to
no longer care about the people who disown
family members for simply knowing your name.
You come back to the national park to see
if the revolutionaries are OK. You become
the firebrand’s eighteenth follower and can’t stop
tweeting at her until she agrees to meet you
for macchiato. You iron your best flannel shirt.

But the firebrand has googled you
and won’t act normal until you tell her
all about your depression. Sure, she’ll discuss
her documentary lit entirely by rockets,
but she always circles back to that seven-year relationship
that landed you in the hospital with a knife
sticking out of your forehead. And you’d resist her,
but there’s something about her eyes.

And so you tell her of your ex’s blush and curls,
and the cabbage kitchen you ran together,
and the charity she had made you a mascot of,
and your favorite goldfinches and philosophers,
and your symbolism-for-two, and your foggy mountain,
and your fights, and the hours you passed in your car
getting up the nerve just to see her again,
and your badminton of humiliation,
and your guilt the night you stopped feeling
anything, and her face on the day she told you
you objectively deserved to die.

The firebrand’s blue hat rests on the coffee table and smiles
at you like a misplaced archaic
torso of Apollo. Nothing moves,
not even the doorframe. And the firebrand shrugs and must go.
And you waddle down your childhood avenue
in the general direction of your favorite stump in the forest,
the one on which you sat for hours one day
talking to your ex about zombies.

–Anton Yakovlev


Poetry

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