This Is What’s Known in Fairy Tales as “A Big Fucking Deal”

after Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Some thing erupts or bucks, goes rogue, cuts
ties, ouch ouch, now may I pet you,
doomed puck cooling in the chest.  But nothing
ever ends. A little cold comes
and collects what you’ve got left,
one family or two begins to weep
or dry up drier than a piece of paper
nailed to a post in a desert, drought inside
and out—Each is hidden from the other,
plain sight is a terrible lie.  We describe a life
by its punctuation but we never know
end stop never know other side, echo fading
corroborates our suspicion re: symbol, re: metaphor,
re: hope: it must end to mean.  It’s the yoke
on the gush that gives us our excitements
plus threatens our entertainments with dissolve,
dissolve, how about that, detective?  Being ended,
does it endure? And how?  Just now
the children next door swell into
the squeaks and cries that are their music,
the lofty and awkward desires
just becoming acquainted
with all of gravity’s hair-trigger trapdoors.  Life
is not a fairy tale, the fairy tale is what’s left
after life is gone and the story’s a story
of shadows only and if you believe that
suddenly a need’s seeded in some remote earth
for the next new fairy tale.  Make the noise stop
or make the stops in the noise carry the caterwaul
into music.  Let us be big fucking deals
on this dance floor even as the men are executed
one after the other.  Today one died.
One died today in one place
and another man died in another place,
the subtraction dressed as addition
doesn’t stop, won’t stop there.  Some thing
shuts off, turns traitor, catches fire
inside this costume.  This needs more salt.
Today a man was put to death.  And another man
was put to death.  Who doesn’t want to play
poker and get buried for whole seconds
in the mists sheared off the surf. Who doesn’t
want to swaddle oneself in the soft blanket.  We are
in the business of being and the business
of ending other being.  Let’s make that latter
business a cape we sink in the wet salt of the ocean,
a ladder business carrying us up, the surfboards
of our enemies are better than business let’s
drought its as usual let’s do it now. Let’s yesterday
do that, let’s do in any case some not
gruesome like now. Right now
yesterday in the light the children
say “No, no, we are robots” and the children say
“I know we are” and the children say
“We’ve got the guns.  We kill the bad guys.
We are the robots”—that old song.
One who is shuffled off had to live with
igniting the internal combustion engine
which propels a truck which drags
a screaming man into mess, into less.  He asks
for a feast fit for seven, does not touch a bite.
Otherwise he is unrepentant.
He had no problem living with having driven
a dragged man painfully into nothing.
He had no problem living
with having driven a dragged man
painfully into nothing. And how, I ask, and how
I curse.  One other made to shuffle—I don’t know
what he ate, I don’t know that he was ever asked
what he wanted. I don’t know how to tell
your parents, and mine, about this world
they are trying to wash off their suitcases.
And now another child
in another corner says “Come down
Come down,” and nothing just collapses
and/or catches fire. Again,
the child says “Come down Come down”
and I get it, like God’s a kitten up a tree.
Who won’t come down,
or doesn’t know how,
and won’t be shown.

 

***

Marc McKee is the author of five collections of poetry: What Apocalypse? (New Michigan Press, 2008); Fuse (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); Bewilderness (Black Lawrence Press, 2014); Consolationeer (Black Lawrence Press, 2017); and Meta Meta Make-Belief, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019. Recent poems appear in Rockhurst Review, The Laurel Review, Copper Nickel, Memorious, Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming from Bennington Review, Inter|rupture, Los Angeles Review, and The Offending Adam. He teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray, and their son, Harold.

 

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