by Hannah Lee Jones
The time I drove a nail in my apartment
and the girl who lived (more like hid) next door
hurled an earthquake through the wall screaming
What the hell’s the matter with you, you bitch?
I didn’t so much as flinch, considering instead
in the morbidly obese silence of my 1 a.m. insomnia
whether this was fair – that her Amazon Prime
boxes and grocery deliveries barricaded my door each night;
that the hallways on fire with footsteps
and slammed doors so she would Never Leave Home Again!
had halfway driven a hole in my skull.
And I promise this was more than my ear’s opinion
of the delivery of the latest Guster album.
This was the what-ness of someone I’d seen only in dreams
where she ferried Pirate’s Booty to a mouth half the size
of her eyeless face; the matter of my rage,
downed in a whorl of melatonin and scotch
for a skin that was never thick enough.
In Japan there lived a greatly revered ghost.
The problem was that to look at him was to risk getting eaten.
The gods love a devourer of sins, which is what he was:
retiring and shy until he swallowed a salaryman
with his words want please NOW. He tore
through streets and alleys eating everything,
dogs and lanterns and children until he had to vomit
and start over. The gods must know his hunger
is everyone’s; I suppose the gods also love us,
though when I think of that ghost I wonder if they love
the little hearts a world abandons as it rails at the sky
with glitter on her face and a sunburn on her back
with no words to cry out, no flag even to fly
that says Help! I don’t know how I got here.
So no wonder I couldn’t sleep, amid the pounding
and shouting and screwing (hers and mine), the volts
from her fridge throbbing the earbuds in my head;
I was too busy to pull them out and still am.
But I’m not hungry or lazy or retiring or shy,
just too busy to shout nothing to what’s the matter with you?
or reply fuck off to you bitch. Too busy even to say
yes to could you please sign here? The nail
under my hammer bent once and forever on please.
The Superstition Review