That One Week Where I Thought I Had The Death Disease

there was that one week
where i believed i had the death disease
i put quarters in every gumball machine
and i chewed so many gumballs
i kissed my lover ferociously
like a tiger, like a cracked out tiger

in some strange twist of events
i still found myself brushing my teeth well
you’d think there’d be a resolve but no
i still found myself valuing brushing my teeth
i also began making my bed
maybe because i thought to myself
well, i’ve got this death disease and my days are numbered
i deserve fresh breath and a well-made bed

i deserved all sorts of things that week
twenty minute breaks at work where i’d just wander
to other floors in the building
pacing like a mindless patient in a psych ward
through other people’s drudgery
i’d wink at strange men
sitting at their desk just trying to feed themselves

i stared out the corporate window at the rocky mountains
and i tried to capture frames of them
blinking erratically as if the optic nerve were a classic polaroid camera
the green foothills, the brown mountains, the white snowcaps
like god saying fuck you, my tiramisu is better than yours
like god saying fuck you, i love you this much
and realizing that every person in my life loves me that much

i used my water cup for soda at tokyo joe’s
i didn’t feel any shame
i stared the assistant manager right in his patchy bearded face
as i slurped down dr. pepper like it was the classiest wine
i looked at him in his eyes and i saw myself
i realized i was the assistant manager at tokyo joe’s
that even in the nucleus of my death dance i didn’t quite know how to be

i wasn’t a communist insurgent overthrowing the capitalist structure
of the world of the everything

i wasn’t death riding in on a pale horse

i simply remained me
my lymph nodes swollen like small galaxy

this didn’t allow me access to the manual on how to universe

it seems it takes time and space and patience to universe
it seems to me that communion with everything is more of a goal
than a possibility
it is still a good goal to have
i thought, as i finished my sample of dr. pepper

as i walked out onto the median of the road
as i straddled the double yellow line of mattering
as i realized that it seems to me i put way too much energy into things
like defiance, or worse yet, self-destruction
as a means to matter

that this is probably not the ways to remain a child
that as ugly as responsibility may seem
as much as we want to believe we are babies in oversized suits
the truth is we are animal skinned drums
that never truly explore the echoes of our sounds unto ourselves
we are too fascinated by the big room to dig deep into the small big room
the one that paces its cage in the haunted marrow of our bones

believing i had the death disease
all that was revealed to me was the mirror of what i wasn’t
all that was revealed to me was gratitude
buckets and buckets of gratitude
my eyes broke down in temper tantrums of gratitude
lying on my bed in antibiotics
i began crying thinking about the way i tried to ring you out of your love
and i promise you this, poem, i will stop trying to weigh love in grams

believing i had the death disease
i spoke frankly each and every day to my mother and father on the phone
who still reminded me i haven’t paid my toll fees
who said yeah you just can’t think about it
and i said okay good luck to me with that
and they said no no no you’ll get it
and i said ok
and all of the phones on this floor kept ringing and ringing
so i just kept saying ok ok


Author: brice maiurro

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

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