Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

Tailgating at the Gates of Hell

After swapping spit and getting cozy with a strung out snowman,
I’m in the bathroom and see a suicide note written in barbecue sauce on the mirror:
“You’re killing me climate change with all this cold and snow. After the plows
Got through, nothing left of me but a bag of bones and credit card bills.”
Even when the truth stares me in the face, I’m still in denial.
I find some baby wipes in the medicine cabinet
And try to make the mirror gleam, a desperate bid to swallow the stuff
Nobody else cares about.
Then there it is: my reflection, plucked out of the grayness of limbo.
A man-child wearing a red devil mask and an old Bills jersey
With hands the size of Homeland Security. I’m shaking like slow thunder.
I want to grab life by the horns. Suddenly the bathroom feels like a cocoon
And my old body parts undergo a mint julep metamorphosis
So I exit the bathroom and make my way to the living room.
The house party’s still in full swing. Unemployed hipsters bobbing
For dead starfish in large buckets of ice water. They’re hoping to regenerate
Their missing parts. This one bedroom is crammed to the ceiling
With greasy auto parts. Two of my exes are making love on a bed
Of senile carburetors and bitter spark plugs. Fireworks are flying
Off the pillows, the force of the blasts knocking my heart off its feet
And it’s like I’m stranded on a small life raft in sex-infested waters.
Eventually I’m rescued by addiction and find peace outside smoking with strangers.
In the secondhand moonlight, it feels like we’re all headlong out of orbit,
Like a planet, toward some terrible cataclysm. I truly enjoy the camaraderie
Of people slowly killing themselves. People from Buffalo are strange
And intimate creatures, grinding their bodies against each other
While tailgating at the gates of hell, hooting and hollering and cheering,
Drinking cheap Canadian beer and maybe some strong drink and persevering,
Like pint-size fish that refuse to be swallowed up by a whale or the heavens.

Justin Karcher Bio PicJustin Karcher (@justin_karcher) lives in Buffalo, NY. Recent works have appeared in 3:AM Magazine, The Buffalo News, Plenitude Magazine, and more. He is the recent winner of the 2015 Just Buffalo Literary Center members’ writing competition. A book of poems, Tailgating at the Gates of Hell, will be released in October from Ghost City Press.


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