ode to hedonism and hepatitis vaccines
shake some salt into my tea: the acute, perverse
agony you know i’ve grown to love, a salve to scare
me into submission, make it through until morning.
no pleasure’s invoked without a past begging
for its sweet relief; indulgence is the contingency plan.
vermouth delivers a gut-punch and some primal
instinct kicks in: pupils dilate, cheeks flush. a glimpse
of who i might’ve been: hard and sharp like a spade
driven firmly into virgin soil, enunciating the “k” in fuck,
dress hiked up just enough to show some peach fuzz.
he’s a sucker for the first signs of summer
and i know it—call it a wounded woman’s sixth
sense. i know when the vacancy sign is on.
it’s a desperate scramble, lunging for the devil i know:
a few glasses of tanqueray down, predictably sloppy, flashing ones
and twos at the cards table to anyone who will look my way.
no match for the sharks— i can’t keep my composure.
far from prom queen, i’m the common fool on the boys’
bathroom floor again, crawling around in a drunken stupor—
wet elbows, skinned knees, puppy-dog eyes gazing under the stall
doors—looking desperately for what i’ve already lost.
you’ve stopped going to birthday parties
you bite your nails to the beat
of songs on the radio, close your eyes
and wait for the other shoe to drop—
instead, an anvil falls through the ceiling
and lands at your feet.
nobody cares whether you’ve made it five days
without thinking of the sea, the bridge, the car.
people call to say i’m sorry, scarcely getting
the words out before they hang up.
i’m sorry means that’s too bad, an admission
of the fact that your struggles are those
of an overgrown child, an incompetent adult.
those little sleeping beauties with brushed hair,
they'll never know what it’s like to be stripped naked,
to be caught molting, halfway to neurosis,
to be known as the mortifying creature you are—
not someone who throws parties, but somebody
who would leave them twenty minutes in,
the threat of wandering eyes too imminent.
you’re entertaining spacemen, airheads, people
who don’t know the difference between the ground
and the wall, the one you hit first and the one
you save as a back-up plan.
you can’t talk to people like that, let alone trust them—
people who speak of knives as things that stab the other,
foreign struggles that could never reach their doorsteps.
you can’t trust people who don’t spend their lives running—
it’s all right there, in the backyard, behind the streetlight, in your chest.
it’s only you, in the dark, feeling for the light switch,
just as it will be only you in fifty years, still in that room.
there may be people watching, but they’re bit parts
in a seventy-year long epic, gentle mouths to kiss
and warm hands to hold but people who,
nonetheless, draw a blank when you ask them
to point to where it hurts.
there’s a sink.
there’s a razor.
you’re certain of it now.
Meg McCarney is a part-time poet, full-time student, and friend at Lesley University studying Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. Previously, her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and is forthcoming/published in Commonthought Literary Magazine, Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, Oddball Magazine, Apricity Press, and Plum Recruit. McCarrney adores Jeopardy re-runs, corgis, and baking oatmeal raisin cookies.