If I ran a marathon, you say, I would end up like the guy in the Greek myth. I would cross the finish line, rejoice that I’d finished, then drop dead.
You tighten your grip on the shot glass, testing its frailty, its resistance to your stress. know what’s going to happen before you do, so I ask the bartender for a towel, a couple of bandaids, rubbing alcohol, and more alcohol.
I would drop dead, you say, staring at the front door. When it rattles on its hinges, you’re so absorbed in its clatter that you don’t notice your palm as it splits across the countertop.
1968 Problem: The former vice president, and soon-to-be-crook, is leading in the polls. Solution: Allow the presidential convention to take place while a riot is happening outside, and allow the news cameras to film students being sprayed in the mouth with tear gas. Do not refute the soon-to-be-crook’s position as the “law and order candidate.”
1972 Problem: The crook is leading in the polls. Solution: Schedule the nominee, a senator best known for supporting acid, abortion, and amnesty, to give his acceptance speech at three in the morning. When the running mate is revealed to have had depression, support him with 1,000 percent certainty, then drop him.
1980 Problem: The costar of Bedtime for Bonzo is closing in on the president’s lead in the polls. Solution: Keep the president, who was only elected because of the crook, in the Rose Garden, giving speeches about economic malaise and the virtues of wearing sweaters. Appoint the president’s twelve year old daughter as his advisor on the geopolitics of nuclear weapons.
1984 Problem: The costar of She’s Working Her Way Through College is leading in the polls. Solution: Have the nominee, the vice president of the preceding, failed administration who is best known for quoting Wendy’s commercials, confess in his acceptance speech that he will raise taxes. Do not make age an issue of the campaign, while the president is 73.
1988 Problem: The vice-president of the costar of Cattle Queen of Montana is closing in in the polls. Solution: Plop the nominee, a Massachusetts governor whose hobby is writing weekend passes for convicted murderers, in a tank to appeal to veterans. Tell him to smile and point at reporters like he’s a dork trying to impress a prom queen with his performance of “Wonderwall.”
2000 Problem: The former co-owner of the Texas Rangers and the nominee are close in the polls. Solution: Train the nominee, the vice president of the current administration wracked with sex scandals, to act like a disapproving dad from a sitcom during the debates. Have him work in the word, “lockbox,” in all sixteen answers about the federal budget and Medicare reform.
2004 Problem: The misunderestimated Rangers fan and the nominee are close in the polls. Solution: Train the nominee, a Massachusetts senator who has flip-flopped on the Iraq War, to brag about his war record instead of talking about the economy. When Osama bin Laden publishes a videotape, write the nominee a speech saying nothing that the president hasn’t said.
2016 Problem: The second-best host of The Apprentice is doing well nationally.
I hide in my middleness overlookable, a noiseless witness hanging over families like a forgotten Mickey Mouse balloon
smiling though no one is paying me to I am coming home, Orlando he greets me:
a catcall from a beat-up truck snake tongue but slower
a voice that drags like a stranger’s hand on my back
I will come home to someone my man is the one who brings me hotel soap shiny and papered labeled until placeless piling on my shelf my precious
my lonesome body made clean and still alone but clean
my disaster spreading like a suburban housing development eating the land under us
spreading like the terror on his face the man next to me stiffening the air getting even staler the plane rattling between clouds his face squeezing like an orange in an invisible fist until we go down and everything stops.
Even when I’m in the dark I’m in the dark with you.
Like an unlucky fish plucked from the blue I imagine God tossed me for a reason a message shot straight through me so that I’d fall to the floor and pay attention
when I was 15 I used to dream about fainting into my Unbeknownst Beloved’s arms a plea for the fact of my existence to be suddenly made obvious I wanted helplessness sinlessness, suddenly made worth loving I thought falling was a kind of worship imagine my luck.
now I faint alone, dumped onto the icy tile wake up and the Dog stands over me asking why are you so graceless his scruffy visage now a tower of white light forever
I like to catch myself in a window, as my form shocks a storefront or to see my eyes drip down my cheeks in someone else’s eyeglasses. In a shadow, my hand hangs on to my wrist by spit my expanding-contracting neck shifting over my dendritic arms. Car windows tell me I put myself on the line for vanity, and lobby doors tell me my triangle nose points telling my triangle coat where to go.
we wander downtown to a bar in the gay neighborhood, block vacant save for a few cars and a shopping cart, and take a seat by the window. The bar is covered in rainbow pinwheels and Lady Gaga music videos play on the TV. We sit in silence and flip through a travel brochure. The bartender, in her most believable accent, pretends not to know of our youth. Stiff smiles and a salty bar. Blue Moon, please. When you leave to go to the bathroom you get stuck behind the small crowd. I catch your eye from across the room, heart boiling up in my chest. Twist the dial to make the colors brighten. I can’t hear you from across the bar. It’s gotten so loud between us it’s like we need a megaphone to shout, How are you feeling? to yell, to plea maybe. Come back here! Earlier, at the Thai place, we were caught kissing in the bathroom and left out the kissing part when we told the story. Earlier, we tried not to talk too loud, texts sent in the same room. I want to take you back to before. Where what we had was love in clear sentences. Right now I’m slurring my words. I can’t remember what I meant to say. I think it’s just, I love you. Louder. I think it’s I’m sorry.