I had a dream my mom died upon impact while I was driving.
I woke up from a coma and asked Where have I been shitting?
I woke up from dreaming and daydreamed the funerals of nine Friends.
Kafka says you can’t be an artist unless unless you imagine your own death.
I read this in the introduction to The Metamorphosis on my mom’s couch
After getting home from a midnight walk on a bridge over a swamp.
Cloudless night with crickets and fireflies and what we thought was a deer
Turned out to be the roots of a fallen tree. Fallen trees are terrifying!
Every day I slink down the river trail and the mossy rotters sink with half-stoned
Entropic slowness. We all sink, no, the earth is always moving up,
Swallowing us. Let’s drink all the beer and not think about that.
Let’s dance on the horizon line and at the same time watch ourselves
Dancing from down the hill. I’d make love to anyone I met from that angle.
I’d charge up the hill and kiss with tongue the first outline I could snag.
The black shape and I would fall to the ground and roll hump down the hill
Until we stop and I realize it is Ron from the mall and I glance up from our embraces
Before the shame can nestle and I see the backlit daughters of Pan a’ frolicking.
Let’s go fuck ‘em, Ron. We unhinge, scramble, claw until we are upright
And running the only way anyone with a boner would run up a hill.
Embrace. Drop. Roll. Run. It takes ten years or so to get to the top,
Did I mention that? Camus doesn’t say that about Sisyphus, but, yeah,
Ten fucking years. You spend eternities thumbing drape fabric. You take
Boring walks with relatives of relatives after proper meat consumption.
You sleep. Wake up. Roll over. Drape your arm over Ron. Stand up,
Eat smooth yogurt with granola and honey every single morning
Until Ron’s ‘buddy’ tells you about GREEK yogurt and everything changes.
So many skin cells. So much lower back hair. Ron’s mom dies of rotting bones.
Your friend in Spain jumps off her roof. You stare at the wall and stare
At the jade plant and stare at the rain in between you and the trees.
You climb mountains out of boredom and talk about how fun it was
Out of boredom. God, it’s all so fucking depressing. And then Ron,
Who was always somehow more fit than you, has reached the top
And he starts humping some woman named Nightingale. Nightingale. No shit.
You stop and stare as they roll past and you watch them until they are twilight.
And so you resume your reluctant charge with new friends in a new town
And you really feel like you are you there. You say freedom every now and then
And you sorta mean it. You say to yourself, Things are good, Gregor,
And before you know it you have found a new shape. Who it will be?
I’m rooting for you, Gregor. I wish I could tell you about every magic hour
Lit moment you will ever have, but that is the future and the future
Is an enormous cup of mushroom tea your stoner friend
Insists tastes real good. Way better than gnawshing. That’s the word he uses,
Gnawshing. He uses that word. Yeah, that’s what happens when you imagine
The future, Gregor. Don’t do it. Whatever words you planned to say
Won’t be said – at least not in the order you imagined would make
Chrystie Mitchell fall in love with you in seventh grade. Oh the way she said
Guava. Nope. Don’t do it. Ah, you are doing it. Your camera zooms in on the horses,
Black horses, with black gear, and they tow your black coffin on a black cart
And all your beloveds trail behind. You can’t tell at first, but Ron is crying
With his arm around Nightingale. You can’t believe it, but Chrystie showed.
They are all here. Their loss feels good. And then the hearse starts climbing
A hill and you run to set up your camera so when they reach the crest
They will be perfectly backlit. You know the spot. The horses hit the top.
The hearse. Your friends. And what’s this? They are dancing. Someone
Brought a boombox and is blaring AC/DC’s You shook me (all night long).
You feel your legs shake. You look around. It’s the same damned hill.
This time I mean it, you say. You crouch down like Carl Lewis. You feel
The tension mount in your thighs. A syllable begins TH-stopping
Right behind your teeth. What is it? You spring into action like a gazelle
From prey and you have no fucking idea why but you are screaming
Death! Death! And the dancers are in a frenzy. And Angus is soloing.
But something is wrong. A tightness somewhere. What is it? Aw, it hurts
Like hell. Fuck. You are having a heart attack. You crumple like a Post-It
In the hand of Zeus. It’s been a good life, and you have just enough time
To think that you really need to call your mother before the blackness
Takes you and makes you one with the silhouette you so always wanted to become.
Dan Chelotti is the author of x (McSweeney's) and two chapbooks, The Eights (Poetry Society of America) and Compost (forthcoming from Greying Ghost). He teaches at Elms College and lives in Massachusetts.