Updated: May 15, 2019
By David Van Etten:
Flapper Press is proud to feature the poetry of David Van Etten!
Public stoning is like the compulsory
draft: if we’re all doing the deed, we
better mean it. I pulled a good, long
pour before returning to my spot in
the bar light. If you’ve never opened
with a power ballad, you’ve never been
here before. I got stuck in the stairwell
without my badge. In ancient Thebes,
they'd kill you for mourning the wrong
person. Gudrun’s dad contacted every
joint in greater Stuttgart trying to bury
his daughter. I didn’t mean any harm
when I retweeted open mic night at
Your Mom’s Gas Chamber starring your
face emoji. I can’t tell where our hearts
will someday harbor. But these bread
crumbs fall lightly across the hillside like
snow flakes. Rhyging was the original
rude boy but King David ruled the cuts.
The raw steak of night hangs heavy.
Heaven is dependable but has a wild
streak. My life will bury everything
I once loved. All you can do is stand
before strangers and twist the blue
burlap inside you. You’ve been here
before but forget when the song starts.
The carbon life of this parchment
is forever but invisible. I made
a pact with the dealer: my blood
for your antigens. In the casbah,
blue jeans; in the fire, flames.
I’m getting choked up by dwelling
in the past, that mud hut that melts
in the sun. We never finished the hunt
of ten-thousand full moons. So many
are the heads that get cloudy with old
age. Stop everything. We need someone
to remember what was going to
happen. The bare bodega of time sells
tall boys and short stories are shared
on stoops. My blood is only a word
that I worship. Wheels was what they
called me in college. My grandkids
will carry Neanderthal words to
their graves. There’s one for bald torso
and another for not sneezing on the fire.
We weren’t the first to name
our firstborn after a flower on the year’s
longest night. Nexus mysteriorum
used to mean something. I’ve been
coding all night and need a light meal.
I submitted the paper several weeks
late but still hope to receive partial credit.
Fentanyl isn’t the best cure
for tomorrow’s foster-care
crisis. Steel country didn’t
vote for some bad acid
trip. Smacked off his tits
is 18 months from poisoning
American slang. Just some harmless
flirtation with speedballs, but you
can’t swipe right. Insert name
of songwriter. The smell of 60-watt
light bulb above flame intoxicates.
Fire-flies survive as small
bursts in the summer night.
They rushed me to the hospital
to tweeze a living moth from
my ear canal. It doesn’t help
to dunk your head in the kiddie
pool. The best cure for hard
living is dental nightmare.
The prenatal video of vacuum
extraction was less terrifying than
the real thing. Elliot Smith.
I felt like a god on the dance
floor, literally. I stopped going there
because it was better before
I got there. The basin called infinity
was an Ashbery line I loved
to pretend I understood. The toilet
never works when you’re an
adult. It’s like I entered some
waking rabbit hole and fell
asleep each night by gum drop.
Five parts CBD to one part THC.
You’ll run sixteen miles on the beach
near your in-laws. Your face will melt
from the guitar licks of the podcast
intro. You will hear chaos before
the doctor carries away the tweezers.
What if I told you this book’s
purpose was to hand wash
Soviet wealth, because the last
book failed as an underwater
debt balloon. We mixed up our
mating assignment; my dopamine
confused your oxytocin for
an eternal promise. Holler if you
mean hollow, brood if you can’t
be bothered, burn if you expect