for Gail Morse
I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. I feel fine, totally fine, one hundred percent fine, yes, like a hero, like a god, like a pin-up, like frame me in eight different poses looking airbrushed, like oh my god, like what, like seriously, like try not to worry about me because I’m golden, because I’m peachy, because I’m keen on kicking this, because the pain is worse than ever and I feel fine, yeah, absolutely fine, yeah, yeah, yeah, like one more, like two more, like three more, like shut the door and give me the bottle, like shut the door and forget I ever smiled at you, like shut the door and forget I ever told you a secret, like shut the fucking door and like open the door, like come on let’s make snacks, like come on let’s cuddle, like come on let’s play Monopoly, like who the fuck is asking, like who the fuck is fucking asking, like a leg infarction, how’s that, a leg infarction, I’m fine like a leg infarction, fine like that, fine like the unraveling of tissue death, like a buraku doctor telling me it’s hopeless, like a person I don’t know who asked me a simple question who I’m pissing off, like words that I don’t want to say that I’m saying anyway, because I’m this way, this particular way, this way that I am. Which is fine. Thanks for asking.
for Kevin Holloway
I did all of the things I did, and I did them downright. I did them for decades. Benefits of a long life, but that’s no excuse for you. I changed, I made music, I butchered, I farmed, I performed sacraments, I conned, I designed, I cheated, and I blew things up. Then I drew a breath and I comforted, I earned, I was elected, I cured, I litigated, I sold, I pitched, I programed, I loaned, I fought, I fiddled, I fixed, I served, I cooked, I fucked, I slaved. I made it up as I made it happen. Sometimes it felt like a fiction. Sometimes it felt like a science. And if I could imagine another world by the simple act of imagining— and I do it often—that world would exist, too. Call it the stubbornness of invention, but I’d do even more there than I did here. Omnivorous towards experience. Still, right now, my mind yields only this: in that world, someone is sitting with his mother and looking at red mountains. Something blue is winding down the landscape. Neither of them care. They’re both rigid with regret. They both wish the other were dead. It would be so easy, then, to mourn never having said all the things they never said, without this pressure of having to actually say them. And here of course it’s the same. But the mountains are blue, and that thing winding down the landscape is red. It all goes sour in an instant. Soon I’ll go to Secundus to die.
About the author:
Will Arbery is a writer, filmmaker, and theater artist who is working towards an MFA in Writing for the Stage and Screen at Northwestern University. His writing has been published by Better: Culture and Lit, decomP, Thickjam, Every Day a Century, Snow Monkey, Chronogram, The Awl, The New Professional, Red Branch, Defenestration, and D Magazine. He was recently selected as one of the eight participants in the Theater Masters MFA Festival. He grew up in Dallas, TX, the only boy with seven sisters.