Two Poems by Justin Karcher

Donald Trump Riding a Dead Seahorse

It’s a little past midnight on November 9

& the best gay bar in Buffalo feels like a funeral.

Drag queens weeping

& holding bouquets of wilted iPhones.

Language is burning holes in our hands.

The bartender tries juggling liquor bottles,

but they all come crashing to the floor.

Some people just don’t give a fuck.

The young kids who snuck into the bar

are ignoring the world around them,

getting drunk, & sloppily singing Beyoncé.

Who thought karaoke on election night was a good idea?

But here we all are.

My shirt’s off

& some guy who looks like Roy Orbison is giving me a tattoo.

The electoral college map carved into my chest.

It’s turning me on,

having my body be a canvas of American mistakes.

Most of me is hemorrhaging in anger.

Whatever’s left is tangled up in blue.

It all seems like a dream,

the way everyone is moving through the bar

Like psycho strung out fish floating in the ocean.

A couple of my friends look like male seahorses

& they won’t stop crying

& now Roy is pouring whiskey down my back

& over my chest.

I feel like I’m on fire

& my friends ask if I’m alright

& now I’m babbling

about how there’s not much difference between the human eye

& the male seahorse, like sometimes a male seahorse

will give birth to thousands of babies at once,

that I’ve seen it on YouTube

& it looks like a sudden snow flurry.

It’s a goddamn revelation,

because sadness works the same way,

like sometimes your eyes give birth

to thousands of teardrops at once.

Now I’m freaking out,

scared that it really is the end of the world.

because only about five

out of every thousand baby seahorses

survive to adulthood,

so that means most of the sadness

we’re experiencing right now

will drift along in the plankton layer

of America’s apathetic ocean

& die alone in the darkness.

Now I’m telling everyone at the bar

that we gotta collect the dread all around us,

that we gotta scoop up

all those baby seahorses lost in the wilderness

& bring ‘em home,

because what kind of person would just sit around

& do nothing while the American heart

becomes a desert full of seahorse bones?

Srsly tho, from this point forward,

we gotta stay vigilant

& we always gotta be pulling teardrops

out of the darkness

& building a future that’s drowning in empathy.

Now everything’s kinda hazy,

but I’m pretty sure Roy’s cradling me in his arms

& singing “Crying”

& I drift off to sleep

as the whole wide world burns to the ground

& in a perfect scenario,

we’d all be dreamin’ sweet dreams

the whole day through,

but that’s not our reality anymore.

You know that awful feeling

when you’re sitting on the rooftop

of a building built from the skulls

of all the single ladies

& you’re sharing a blunt

with a seahorse

as the clouds keep rolling on in.

Father John Misty Describes the End of the World to a New Yorker

I remember swelling the cymbals,

watching people get more & more agitated by

the spirit. The chapel was filling up with young

Hollywood hipsters speaking in tongues. Baptism

by fire, God was going to fall on America.

When the day came, I was a kid, like fourteen,

swooning through bangers & ghouls, abusing

GarageBand for fame & profit, playing a party

with no one paying attention, Neil Young acolytes

in ponchos & heavy sweaters drinking tequila

& puking hearts of gold, because this is the way we

wanted it to be. No, when the day came, I was twenty-two,

some kind of blueblood, a leaky rowboat, how unhappy

I was at drowning. I was beat down, walking up &

down Bourbon Street looking for the best rock stars

of my generation, but all I was able to find was a skeleton

pissing into a dumpster fire, Mother Earth wearing Beats

by Dre & trying to drown out the pain. It was kind of poetic

& I found myself thinking, I didn’t used to cry so much.

I’m despicable as a result, I get it. I should just be by myself,

writing a novel because it’s never been done before. No, when

the day comes, I’m thirtysomething, hanging out in the smoldering

dust of Coachella & playing twelve-dimensional chess with a

grieving ventriloquist whose dummy just died. He keeps repeating

the same thing over & over again: “My God, these children.” While

I’m thinking about that, the ventriloquist kills my queen. There’s

blood on his hands. Oh, my country, my country! I always thought

that it was going to look way more sophisticated than this when

evil happened, but here I am anyway, killing time before a meteor

hits this place & our limbs become untrue & we sink like trees.

Justin Karcher is a poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015), the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs (CWP Collective Press, 2017), the micro-chapbook Just Because You've Been Hospitalized for Depression Doesn't Mean You're Kanye West (Ghost City Press, 2017), and Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire (EMP, 2018) with Ben Brindise. Bernie Sanders Broke My Heart and I Turned into an Iceberg is forthcoming from Ghost City Press. He is also the editor of Ghost City Review and co-editor of the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX [books], 2017). He tweets @Justin_Karcher

Image by Eric Frommer, found on Flickr:

#poetry #justinkarcher #pride #patriotism #popculture #apocalypse

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