poem by michael lottner

illustration by maia boakye

The Afterlife of the Party


People lean back into centuries,

the gesture as natural and silent and steady

as the rains that spawned the world.

What a declension it was

to learn an animal is not a god.

To do a swaying dance with a pet’s corpse.

To teach a new pet its old name.

If the reader is suspicious that they are alone.

Yes. I want this fact to be known.

It is what makes us real enough

to deny ourselves. To be someone

who thinks they hear the phone ring.

Who picks up the phone and speaks and paces.

Who trips over the invisible wire.

Who is next to their body, unwilling to help.

Who drops a plastic bag where no one

would think to drop a plastic bag,

just to prove the existence of—

hold that thought. I have not said anything.

Or everything I have said is invisible.

So glad I have turned hair into a kind

of sweetness, snow into sour powder.

So glad I am not dead. And being

someone’s child? It spreads me like jam.

back to bad faith



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