~*Emotionally Unavailable*~

Hello [patient name],

This is a courtesy call from your local clinic to inform you that you have tested positive for a sexually transmitted neurological infection known as emotional unavailability.

The progressive symptoms of emotional unavailability include: a boundless initial excitement at the prospect of a new romantic interest, the formation of an ill-advised ad hoc relationship with said romantic interest, an overwhelming annoyance with said love interest, and finally, the public dumping of said romantic interest. In the middle of the night. In the spot where the two of you had your first kiss.

While emotional unavailability is doubtlessly uncomfortable for its carriers, remember, it is always most debilitating for the stupid, stupid fools who fall for you. We suggest you begin to notify said fools of your infection ahead of time in a way that portrays you as emotionally unavailable, as opposed to badass, mysterious, or in desperate need of someone pretty, smart, and alluring to crack your hard candy shell of handsomeness and lies.

We hope you will take this news in stride, and start to practice some goddamn self-awareness until you are able to heal the gaping void that has become you. With a regular regimen of forgiveness, acceptance, self-validation, and maybe some penicillin, you should be able to recover from your emotional unavailability within one to two calendar years. The typical sign of a completed recovery is a cinematic realization that you’ve thrown away the best thing that’s ever happened to you and hot christ why were you so stupid you need to go get her back right the fuck now and tell her for the first time that you are actually capable of love and all of your love is hers right now and for the rest of time and always and forever.

Please call to make an appointment as soon as is convenient. We thank you in advance for your conscientious behavior.

The Little Deals We Make

I.
The boy has been gone for five months.
I made a profile on a dating website.

This is all I get in three days:

“do u lyke 2 give hedd?”

This man has a confederate flag
tattooed on his neck.
If this is the kind who wants me,
I will kill myself.

“You like good books,”
says someone disruptive in his cuteness.
“Can I buy you a coffee?”

II.
The boy won’t answer the phone. It’s raining out.
I made pancakes. What else was I going to do?
If one more burns or fails to flip,
I will kill myself.

My roommate, disruptive
in her spatula finesse and irregular work schedule,
comes home early.

III.
Three states away, the boy needs me again.
Turning left in rush hour traffic is impossible.
Okay. When the fifth car ignores me,
I will kill myself.

A mother in a minivan,
disrupted by her children, lets me go.

IV.
A long drive home from a pointless fight.
Here is Pointless: If I cannot hold my breath
past the next seven telephone poles,
I will kill myself.

V.
If it rains again tomorrow, I will kill myself.

VI.
If he doesn’t say he’s sorry, I will kill myself.

VII.
If [              ]
If [              ]
If [              ]
If [              ]
I will kill myself.

VIII.
et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera
et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera…

Zombie Apocalypse

My therapist asks whether I have considered suicide this week. I respond:

So you know that scene in every zombie movie
where the attractive white male lead boards windows shut
and then locks himself in some basement shelter
as the zombie horde slowly becomes visible over the
horizon like tangible impending doom—like not even
a metaphor but actual impending doom—
and then he sits in a corner of the basement
with a shotgun and listens as they all bang
on the windows and rattle the chains and he kind of
has to just sit there and wait for whatever happens
to happen to him? It feels like That. It feels a lot
like That. Like, we keep adding all of these boards
and locks and yeah, I know I’m really honestly probably
pretty safe in here, but listen. There are so many things out there
that really want to kill me and even if I do not
think I want to let them…how am I supposed to sleep easy?

The Nature of Light by Ashley Opheim

This’ll be the day that I…

While the last piano
knelt ablaze in the streets
The final guitar smashed to driftwood over a wedding cake
The last flock of violins caught,
accidentally drowned in nets meant for tuna

We smoked backstage
We pretended to be sober for dad
We continued to bob our heads like corks
like nothing had happened
like it had always been this quiet
Didn’t notice our voices slither down
our shower drains

The day the music actually died was sunny, peaceful
The years that followed were deafening.

Every birdcall unexamined another symphony lost
we tuned our ears so fine
we could hear the earth grinding its plates
while it slept like teeth

Eventually, because of the absence of Jazzercise classes,
society began to crumble
A global emergency declared,
We began devoting all our energy as a species
To finding the notes we could barely remember
the taste of

Scientists were charged with reanimating
Frankenstein orchestras from
megaphones and moon dust and coyote hide
the concert was a failure
so they got more funding,
and retreated to their hermetically sealed garages.

We sent space shuttles out to blank targets
Submarines to the depths of ocean trenches
None returned, each captain believing that
they heard the ghost of an aria reflecting
off the wide throat of the void

Of course we prayed
government mandated, but with passion, nonetheless
Underground internet petitions started
to pool souls for one final deal with the devil

Poetry played on loudspeaker at weddings instead
but it wasn’t the same

After making love, the unsatisfied
wondered aloud to the smoke on the ceiling
Where we went so wrong as a people.
if only some song, with an immaculately catchy
chorus, had taught us to love better…

When they did return, the instruments,
it was under cover of night. That morning
we found trumpets sagging from the gutters
Oboes melting on the front lawn

But when our greedy hands lifted
their long-absent lovers to play,
no sound came.

Weeping, we moved our mute fingers
trying to remember what it was, exactly
we had so desperately needed
to sing about.

Estate Sale

The first man to say marriage
like saying bread put his mouth

on my breast, the two of us
under the splintered sign
that advertised the lodge,
blue-eyed sonofabitch
with rough hands, kids
and dogs always loping to him,

his damp orbit. In barter
I go lisping through a billfold

till he lifts the conversation
like the shards of a dish I’ve dropped.
He compares a bargain to love

or poker. Talk,

never show your cards
or wallet.

Grave Types & Goods



Girl can give                 what god will not

I come to the habit of giving               more

than good         or useful              Girl’s job

to watch the men          asleep on trains                 Dispassion

is the girl in god                         First to redress

although in the right

Someone’s got                            to keep custom

bind the corpse             lead the mourners         Blame

the unattended

giving                 of herself           A dog listens

at the grave       I want to kill

what remains  of my uses                       Stay
inert                   total