This week, an excerpt from Tommy Pico’s book-length poem IRL, forthcoming from Birds LLC.

 

IRL

 

I text Girard do
u wanna come
over? Watch me stuff
swim trunks into
a weekender bag
and maybe a movie?
Regret is a gift
that keeps on giving I
think it was Sontag
or Sonic the Hedgehog
who said just dash dodge
weave faster than you
can think n there’s no
time to shame spiral
Crushing
on Muse—whose
even slight squint bursts
me into high July—
while dialing,
essentially, a trick.
This is my argument:
Muse crashes into
the edges of my nights,
isn’t crushing,
doesn’t love me,
doesn’t have his shit
together (tho neither,
frankly, do I) but yanks
me n my hand onto the dance
floor til tilt-a-whirl Goes on
like land, just accum-
ulating in my eyes.
Girard is a grown ass
man, sly winks
Snakes free drinks
from the bar because
he can pay for the
expensive ones, all
calm n body n blue, and
all Muse and I do
is wander from party
to party, pop off w/ Popov
or Georgi or Poland
Spring Whatever
is deeper than well
and gives you a hang-
over just riding
the subway home.
Lavender candle,
string lights, sage
sticks gathered by my
brother from the rez
to smudge my new
apartment—staging,
I’ve learned, can be just
as important as what
you whisper into
Girard’s ear when
you set the Espelón
down on the end
table beside him
and blow a little
and back away slow,
locked eyes. My room-
mate Jess is a singer/
social worker going
on tour next week,
Danny’s in Baltimore,
Deegs visiting parents
So I’ll have our four br
apt all to myself when
I get back from the Ham-
ptons. Today a roach
died under my keyboard.
When I sat down
to play, I saw a leaf
and bent to pick
it up. I touched the stem
but it was antennae
and I screamed
bloody murder
and Jess ran in
with a napkin, scooped
it up to heaven. She’s
in the other room
humming “We Found
Love in a Hopeless
Place” Struts in
every ten minutes
Asks my opinion of
the design of the
t-shirt she’s making
for her tour—higher low-
er bigger smaller left
or right etc.—then
does the exact
opposite of what I suggest.
I’m like, why even ask?
She blank blinks,
stands there for
a second drag
from her cig and
walks back to
her room. Ten
minutes later
she busts back
in, asks do
I like where she
wrote the band’s name?
I blank blink, stand
there a second, look
down to the swimming
trunks/half-crammed week-
ender bag. She
laughs, says touché.
Girard is not coming
over, which almost
makes me mad
But he says sorry,
says he wishes he
hadn’t made plans
Wishes he could be
with me, and the
phrase “be with”
is a deference
to a kind of growing
infection
I mean affection inside
him that is not
growing inside me, so I
don’t respond. If he
said “I’ll fuck you
Tuesday” I would
have :-) :-) :-) If
Muse ever texted me
I would :-) :-) :-) If
Muse texted “I
want to be with you”
I would have a
minor coronary incident,
would have to dic-
tate this from Woodhull
Medical Center as I
surely would have
passed head-
first into the evening’s
net of basket of
hammer
of stars.

——

TOMMY PICO is the author of IRL (Birds LLC, 2016). Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn and co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker. @heyteebs



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