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December 6, 2020

4 Poems

Matt Mitchell

Hot Burrito #1

they say god created the earth in seven days.

and then, on the eighth day,

he created wawa convenience stores.

but then, george harrison wrote a song

titled wah-wah. but that was so long ago

i’m not even sure who was first anymore.

it’s kind of a chicken and egg deal for me, personally.

my high school biology teacher

liked to dissect animals with us

and pull their carcasses apart like rotisserie chicken,

just to put them back together at the end of class.

he taught us about evolution,

how there was the made-from-scratch bacteria

and the acid washed jeans. then the bath salt zombies

and the aurora borealis—

but before it was aurora borealis,

when we only knew it as sky,

when daylight savings time

was just early morning coupon cutting.

if the ice age had abided by daylight savings time,

maybe there’d have been no melt.

maybe there’s a tear in the space-time-continuum

we can climb through and go back

and flex-seal the titanic.

of course there’s the risk of endangering

the glaciers. it’s a big what if.

but what if the strokes had never left new york city.

what if the jazz had beaten the bulls in seven.

what if our bodies are bursting,

just waiting to be put back together.


Plums, which is just to say

there’s a scene in the Evil Genius documentary on Netflix

where Bill Rothstein calls the cops about a dead body hidden in his icebox.

but, as I’m watching this all play out,

as I’m washing my dinner of chicken nuggets down with a root beer,

all I can think about is that William Carlos Williams poem

about the plums in his icebox and his subsequent consumption of them.

instead of immersing myself in the complicated plot

of the Erie Pizza Bomber bank heist,

I imagine Bill Rothstein on the phone with the Erie Police,

admitting to keeping a grandiose arrangement of plums in his icebox

instead of a dead body. I imagine this whole documentary based around plums

and nothing else. no dead bodies on ice, no conspiracies, no collar bombs.

just frozen plums, the glow of my television

trickling up into the moon’s mouth,

and tomorrow, if tomorrow decides to come.

I have wasted my life. Whoops, wrong poem ending.


Neil Young and The Band perform Helpless during The Last Waltz

I am on the phone with you,

and we are watching The Last Waltz together

on different screens in different states,

and you ask me what I am seeing on my end.

I tell you Neil is there and he is singing so hard

he budges the coke rock

from the clutches of his 1976 nose canal.

And there is Joni Mitchell,

because how could there not be Joni Mitchell,

and she is singing background vocals

better than Neil is singing lead vocals,

but she is singing behind the stage’s curtain,

all for mysterious effect,

so I guess we’re not supposed to know it’s her.

But we all know it’s her. We always know.

I get all hyperbolic and tell you Neil’s harmonica

is, realistically, probably made of wood

or injection-molded plastic,

but I think we should just say

it is really made of butterflies.

There is Rick Danko being all cute, like always,

and there is Robbie Robertson

smirking his electric 10-dollar asshole smirk.

But I can’t find Levon Helm, I’m sorry, I say.

I know he is your favorite.

You ask what else,

so I tell you there are the yellow moons

and the blue, blue windows and the stars

and the babes singing with me somehow.

There is the San Francisco ocean really watching

its hugging shore for the first time,

finally realizing, My god this is so beautiful.

I could put it on top of the junk chair

across the room and look at it forever.


The Shining

We went to a screening of The Shining

at the Cedar Lee in the Heights one summer.

It was an afternoon showing, a 3 o’clock getaway,

because matinees fuck and that’s on god.

We each got Coke and popcorn and milk duds.

We stuck our faces up close

to the neon of the coming soon posters.

We played the pre-movie trivia because it’s tradition.

You didn’t know any of the answers because it’s tradition.

The lights dimmed and the previews each said a prayer

before saying goodnight to all six of us in the theater.

There was the opening shot, the shot we’ve seen a million times.

The autumn leaves and the western vacancy of untouched land.

T H E   S H I N I N G    in Microsoft Word default font,

its powder blue serif body forever nothing but water.

We giggled at the beauty of such a misleading introduction

and started making out quietly, but brightly,

because our bodies were so much more than water.

They were ecosmart light bulbs wearing denim jackets,

or two potato clocks dainty, pearled, and tonguing rainbow.

They say as soon as you set a clock it already starts going slow,

which must explain why we were making out.

Our meridian lips afraid of losing time,

that guy four rows back yelled at us,

asking how could we possibly be making out during this.

And I said to him, How could you not be making out during this?