Best Worst Year

Best worst year.37. The number of dicks sucked by Dante’s girlfriend in Clerks. Not the most magical of images or numbers (Yes even in a row, dear Quick Stop customer.). I know what you’re thinking: where’s the poetry? Mister Fancy Pants. Mister I have an MFA. Mister I Got Two Copies of Otis Blue on Volt Records in Mono(!). But I will argue that this number is the poetry.

Follow me on this, won’t you?

I am a whole six months into the best worst year of my life. No, this isn’t a coming of middle age story where I was (like Kyle Kinane) a Whiskey Icarus flying too close to the sun. This isn’t even a reboot of the Hallmark Network nod to dropping out, Chris Elliot’s Get a Life. No, this is a guy who is unemployed, single, and sleeping on friend’s couches. It’s not slacker revisionist history. It’s not a frenzied dash to reclaim a former beat poet-derived glory.

Nope. It’s poetry.

Much like the scented Pecan Pie candle currently burning in my cousin’s kitchen, I am a tiny flame flickering through hours in a day. I religiously Instagram the records I spin throughout the day. I split my rigours reading schedule between all the novels I’ve ever wanted to read (in a Burgess Meredith “Time Enough At Last” sans breaking my glasses kinda way) with my almost Catholic like devotion to DC and Marvel comics. And, if there’s time (sic), I’ll take in a good ol’ fashion Pinoy mother earful about a variety of sundry topics including (but not limited to):
-recently dead relatives I may or may not know
-finding a local gym that defines me as a person
-getting a haircut
-finding a girlfriend who can produce a grandchild, thus securing the Warner family estate of commemorative Elvis Plates and state spoons totaling almost 14 states (The
current whereabouts of the Ohio spoon is unknown.)
-reconsidering my position on being a priest
-passive aggressive comments about living relatives (my lawyer advises against any more details but let’s just say my mother telescopes her angst via comments on dining and/or prepared covered dishes)

Oh, did I mention my birthday this year fell on Thanksgiving? …and that I spent the first seven hours of it driving to Philadelphia to pick up my cousin from the airport? …and I had to leave Danville (yes, that Danville, PA from the newspapers and AP wire) at about 4:45 AM? …and that my sleep schedule is typically a cataclysmic dumpster fire? …and that I had to fight through a series of rival gangs on my way of clearing my name in the assassination of Cyrus? (Okay that was The Warriors, but great movie, right?)
So Batman: Year 37 begins with a Turkey Day drive to Philly and ends with me listening to my cousin having sex with her boyfriend. I mean there were other details I could get into (Like the fact that my parents decided to have a Cocconut Custard Cream Pie in lieu of a birthday cake…or the fact that I hate Coconut Custard Cream Pie…or I forgot to move Andre Johnson from my fantasy football team’s bench and he scored a shit ton of points…or that my Fantasy Football team is called the Macedonian Babycrushers…or I got a Keurig for my birthday…or I won a Vestax Handy Trax portable turntable on Ebay as most fools aren’t involved in online auctions on a day set aside for family and giving thanks…) but isn’t this what Twitter is for?

(By the way, follow me on Twitter @whoismisterjim.)

Alright, I can tell some of you are still not sure how any of this is poetry. Let me reel this one in, kids, Mr. Belvedere style:

22 Novembre (because the British are always swapping their er’s out like theatre or…theatre).

The cold which comes at Novembre’s dying reach has a knowing sense of hurt attached to it; like it knows how to slip a sliver of frigid between your spine and the crook of the day you’ve quietly been keeping to yourself. It never seeks to sever the bond between the contemplation and the day but Novembre cold is there to remind you that the Autumn months have passed long and far enough that none of its gathering chill has September’s naivety or October’s awkward missteps of Indian Summers. Winter is never so sudden and neither is the time passing around us.

What keeps the inevitable at bay or brings surprise to a morning snow storm isn’t our ignorance but our ability to live with the the hiss and pops of our days. I think distraction is too obvious a word but it’ll suffice for tonight. The distraction is where we live, and the older I get, the less concerned I’ve become at seeing the flaws in such cheap diamonds. Rather, it is how we savor the distraction which truly matters. Are these diversions just the filler of space or are they the passion by which we chase thought from the physical movement of minute hands across a watch face?

What I love most about playing records is my need to be present. The act of flipping a record over, dropping a stylus on wax, brushing away lint and smudges are all labors of love which must be committed in real time. Better still, sharing this liminal space with friends and lovers by any way possible, and these days it may be the only saving grace to the great social media experiment. I hear too many bemoan how connection has become such a sad disparate way of life–how we’re trapped between the geosynchronous orbit of smart phones and 140 characters; how publicly private we are; how intimacy is as dead as God.

Maybe being born at the juncture between two ages informs me differently, I don’t know (it assumes a wisdom I’m not comfortable admitting I have or a pretense that even out pretenses this faux journal entry). What I do know is I embrace the distraction and the tools which permit me to shorten the proximity between me and you.

(Closes journal.)

If I am going to be an active conductor through Year 37, my bestworstyear, maybe you’ll consider riding shotgun? I don’t promise profundity or any Kevin Arnold Wonder Years voice overs. I can’t even promise that it’ll be as witty as I’ve attempted to be over the last 1100 words. This isn’t the foundation to an Oprah Book Club selection; this isn’t even Harvey Pekar slice of life. All this little guy is hoping to be is a distraction, best shared between those who want to know and those who want to be in the room when I flip the record over.

Jim Warner is the author of two poetry collections Too Bad It’s Poetry and Social Studies (Paper Kite Press). His poetry has appeared in The North American Review, PANK Magazine, Word Riot, and other journals. Jim received his MFA at Wilkes University. He is currently sleeping on your couch.

Twitter: @whoismisterjim
Tumblr: whoismisterjim.tumblr.com
Coming soon: www.misterjimsneighborhood.com

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