Country Trash Proud

City Mouse, Country Town

Mishap at birth, rebel at fourteen
little mouse lies, train tracks steel
by the brook, by the trees
tickling weird thoughts, imminent train death
what a monster, some kinda beauty
a trolley problem, a metal man
lying up starfished, wheels dig ribs
Horrorshow an apocalypse, harvest guts glory
stab a stone, throw the birds
crunchy leaf steps, construction ongoing forever
needlework needless work, jackhammers sound normal
accountants on strike, bars still run
neighborhood union meetings, nowhere to go
skirts or denim, sneakers or barefoot
alcohol a no-go, juice down cold
i’ll grow old, parents at home
inherit the house, inherit mom’s madness
inherit spiked taxes, inherit the truck
inherit dad’s rage, his road kind
inherit forever construction, inherit this unprogress
inherit country town, open wide manholes
fall down ditch, carapace sewer crab
condemning jailed exits, missing teenager posters
streets papering faces, parents crying wolf,
friends crying silence, inherit no tears
cat always away, cat never return
city mouse alone, country town outgrown
a trolley problem, a metal man
i lie starfish, you lie beached
by the brook, by the trees
train bridges over, train spares us
hide below metal, keep heads down
inherit mishap birth, inherit mishap rebellion
the train bellows, the train rushes
city mouse alone. inherit being fourteen,
inherit standing up, inherit walking away
construction to forever, nowhere to go.

Living in 1307

meant that I had to look at my life before you
moved into mine. Remember how I’d wished
for magic to be real? I’d think of any god
to undo the lock on the pantry
that my mom kept me in. That my dad
was complicit to. That callous, cruel gods
choose to remain listening and never impede
on this suffering. Buckets cradle this ceiling
rainwater. The old couch of the curb seats three,
two if we’re lying down. Our floor sinks in a way
only water damage is responsible for. Dingy PC
set-up by the bunk serves me well. I bring flowers
to my mom in the home like she deserves it. Dad is dead.
Brothers enlist for the military. I stay home with you,
sly fox, needless romantic. A knifeful. Couple of cups
put on your ears. It’s this charm you have—
gripping your kiddishness like a gun to the man
and how I’ve let go of mine like water to a fire.
Life is this twin-sized bed now, our mansion dreams
of owning a farm, a family of cats, very much away
but never too old to bicker about over late breakfast.
But you’d have chosen to sleep in on a day like today,
arms splayed and legs hanging off the bed somehow,
even for how short I make fun of you for. You’re not
the result of any god, cruel or kind. You’re not a love
my family has always wanted of me. You’re drooling
on my side of the bed.

I don’t get how you can smoke here

I found you left damp in the rain,
out on rooftops. How small you were

with loose clothes stuck to your shoulders.
How cold I felt ignored. The riverside,

jaded and away, mirrored your vacancy.
You’d have smoke stirring your mouth.

I wish that, one day, it’d be some stick
of lollipop instead of straight cigar.

Petrichor hangs the air. I’ll never be you—
killing your lungs like deadbeats do.

The pictures of dead babies on the box,
of alligator teeth shriveling a yellow I’ve seen

sprinkled on pissed-on alleyway walls.
A body failing doesn’t move you to change.

A light moving farther into the distance, you staying
in the same place, doesn’t help you live anymore. Please,

there are more painful ways to die than slowly
and in front of me. I have nothing to offer

but my hand in your dry refusal. I have hurt
more than I have care. Even when I can’t take that

we’re different, I’ll remember this: Proximity counts for a lot
you say, and I’ll agree. The brand of cigarette you chew

reeks of the nearby pizza place. This place is hot city garbage.
We are not raccoons hoping to scavenge something good out of this.

Everyone who picked the constellations is dead now
after Longest Night

Supposedly, if you follow the food chain all the way down,
you will find mice—inventors of a written language,
the fire-breathing pattern-finders. Mice days
are numbered, they were like 6, literally being speared

through the guts, breathing bad news for the rest of history.
The end of the world, nature’s snack cake, mice.
There were supposed to be thousands of them.
Their deaths might mean something to speak against.

So we immortalize them in the night sky: Arrowed to death.
A city yet to have suburbs. Diamonds in the dead
middle of nowhere. The first thing that talked, laughed, and
opened its mouth and consumed fire. A synthetic lifeform.

But there’s only so much sky and only so much river
to drink the oceans, to make the fish cry. So much constellation
for being a great thief, a failure in all things. Instead, we have
full-time jobs, new again next year. Home is not gonna call itself.

Mice Writers are a sign: you don’t want to take the bus.
This is your new life. Screw the man. Steal the diamonds.
Think whales are fish. Do god knows what. Find mice.
I’m warm. I’m breathing. I’m literally being martyred.

Casey’s away message

Cool kid cat smoked by the train tracks,
skipped town, wordless. Goodbyeless to the band,
to the family. Crazy cat lives on in memory. Ice sparks
of endymion youth, brick walls bleed eyesore paint.
Criminal cat hijacking boats to test run on flash floods.
There is no sea to boat in Possum Springs. Cryptic cat,
last status blaring: BORN 2 LOSE. COUNTRY
SK8 2 CR8. BOUND FOR GLORY. Off-grid, so everyone’ll say.
Hopped on a train, left us while I was away, everyone’ll say.
Some people are one way and that’s how they stay.
Some people find one life and live that way. Some people
go missing and what I know of the cat’s life, the cat’s death
is all that’ll stay. If you have any information as to the location
of CASEY HARTLEY at any time since his last known sighting,
PLEASE contact the Possum Springs Police Department immediately.
I only knew him my whole life before he went away.