FLAT PLANET

I am wearing a tuxedo and listening to Boards of Canada in my bathtub. I have set my television on top of the toilet seat and unplugged my electric razor to free an outlet to plug it in. I tune the television set over to a news station and The President’s face flashes before me. The television still on mute, Boards of Canada still playing, I watch the squabbling motions of the mouth as a blue banner across the bottom of the screen informs me of another closed door. I myself have closed the bathroom door and locked it. I have taken large pieces of wood and strategically nailed them to the door of the bathroom to ensure I am safe from the flat planet on the other side and it from me. In the bathroom stall at Sputnik, somebody wrote Make Stabbing Nazis Great Again. I hold a strong fist for non-violence but I fear that if I release the grip of my fingers I may find a dead butterfly in my palm. I hear a door slam shut in Wyoming. My cellular phone is ringing but I am too shattered on the tail end of a coffee high to gather myself to answer it. A cuckoo clock tweets. Boards of Canada continues to play. My cell phone rings again. My yellow home telephone rings as well. I could not be bothered to move. My hotline phone rings. I have opened my window to let a winter breeze in and outside of my window I can hear a nearby payphone ringing. Every phone on this flat planet is ringing. The President continues to move his marionette mouth. The television set remains muted and even if it were not, the sound would be drowned out by Boards of Canada and the ten billion phones ringing on the other side of the door which I have boarded up in case of anything. I have nightmares but I just try to fall asleep when I do. One phone is ringing for your state senator. The invisible voice on the other line recites a love poem about tolerance. The line stutters and turns to a solid beep before the voice of a robot operator speaks and requests that you try your call again. Another person leaves another voicemail. A slave song. A song that would sing the body electric but it is cast on the other end into an ocean where the electric sting fizzles out and is ultimately swallowed by spineless jellyfish. For a split second, I escape my tuxedo and my bathtub and I think about the purple lipstick kiss that you left on my kitchen cabinet. I imagine what it must be like to have time to love another human being the way that the marrow in our bones so desires. Another phone rings. It is my dear friend Cathy asking me if I will be marching for equal pay and I say no. I have to work that day. Jessie asks me if I will be marching for affordable housing and I say no. I’ll be working my second job that day. The bathroom door seems to shake and I have a heart attack and I recover. I pull my heart out of my chest, wind it, and put it back in. I ponder if the door really did shake. I place my ear to it and on the other side of the door I hear the breathing of a police officer in riot gear. I can hear the condensation of his breath on the curved clear mask that surrounds his face. I start to wonder if this is real or imaginary. I reenter the bathtub, having another heart attack while fact checking if there is in fact a police officer in riot gear on the other side of the door. I check multiple websites that a website told me are credible websites. They point to yes. I still hear the police officer’s breathing beneath every phone through time ringing and beneath Boards of Canada performing an electronic composition based on the ethereal horror of 1970s horror films. I realize I may be in a 1970s horror film. I stand up and look in the mirror and my tuxedo has become an evocative dress spattered in blood. I am now the main female protagonist in any of several slasher horror films. I look at the blue bags beneath my hollow eyes. I look at my barely covered breasts. I realize that I have not slept in several days as I am being chased by a man with a giant knife. He shakes the door. I retreat into the shower and curl into the fetal position. Closing my eyes I hear the ringing phones again. Beneath the sounds of the ringing phones I cannot hear America singing. I see three little girls in glittered red white and blue dresses dancing at an inauguration. I taste the bloody residue of a hamburger on my tongue. The sink drips. Each drop an unfulfilled promise. A window appears on the wall. I watch as a singular brown leaf levitates up to the branch of a tree out the window. The leaf turns golden. The leaf turns bright green. A dedicated army of leaves follow suit levitating up back onto the tree. A return to their parents’ home. I watch a boy on a bicycle drive by out the window in reverse right to left. I watch as a demolished building becomes undemolished. It is a big box store. I watch as the big box store brick by brick is unassembled. Construction workers use their crane to pull steels bars out of the sky and back onto the ground in piles. Slowly the buildings disassemble. Smoke goes back into giant cylinders. A park with trees. Winter Fall Summer Spring. The sun sets and then rises. Cars drive by backwards. It is all so fast. A toddler walks, then crawls, shrinking back into a newborn baby. A mother drives with her newborn baby to a hospital and doctors work carefully to put the baby back inside of her. Each day she shows a little less. I watch a political bill, a mainsail, disappear one letter at a time. I watch bathrooms relabeled colored and white. I watch a painter paint over a black president with white. Back in the bathroom the drips from the fountain float upward, scared they return to where they were. I see refugees fleeing peace for war. I am alone. I pant like a dog. I sweat like an intelligent woman in a Russian cathedral. My hands brittle. Sledgehammers pulling back bricks. Walls being built. Dominoes. Flowers fold up into buds. The television turns to static. It disappears. I unboard the bathroom. I disassemble my one bedroom apartment in Denver. I drive to Aurora. Police cars outside of a movie theater. I drive to Aurora. I kiss my girlfriend goodbye and then lay on the bed where we make love depressed as all hell and wondering where we’ll be when the sun stops rotating around this flat planet.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2017

Author: brice maiurro

Denver poet. Author of Stupid Flowers, out now through Punch Drunk Press.

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