Best Worst Year: Episode 89 (Or, Ignoreland)

This time you kept your moving boxes. You kept them in the spare bedroom you had fashioned into an office. Cardboard collapsed and folded into a small stack at the back of the closet. You begin to sort your life into three piles: pack, pack later, and give away. You are awake too early to be making such decisions, and after an hour or so the three distinct stacks become an unintelligible pile of clothes that you will sleep on until the alarm goes off a few hours later.

moving truck
pack your dresser
in blankets

The stoplight washes over the hood of your car. This late at night, it’s only by reflex you stop. One hand on the gas pump, you are steam rising from a coffee cup. You don’t need caffeine to keep you awake–it too is reflex.

Your thoughts are open ended conversations committed to insomnia.

Maybe it’s what the shutter doesn’t capture which makes you mistrust film. You are thinking about the Exposed to light, circular tins evaporate. Natural light floods a red-bulbed converted closet. The developer tells another story. All those battered faces, with the invisible fist of time raining down calendars of luckless decisions. You prepare to the best of your ability, but your clock is Judas-craving silver liquiding into the gears of false starts and wheels spun in mud. You are not a photographer, and the darkroom that places a thumb over your memory slowly fogs your windshield from the inside.

diamonds on a mirror
it rained
for days

You climb the spiral staircase to man the ghost ship. Your office is housed in a converted mansion–home to one of the town’s forefathers. The campus police who would stop by when you were burning through late night deadlines told you that the house was haunted. The porch is pock-marked by ice melt and rocksalt. You feel all the seasons settling into your office window. No matter how many times you set it, the clock on the wall is always wrong, losing speed as the weeks wear on. Only a year ago, this building was ripe with life–the productive hum of copiers, phones, and meetings. This morning, you will be only one of two people working in the entire building. This afternoon, a realtor will accidentally walk into your office, unannounced, to show it off. You feel their footsteps clumsily search the building, like a teenage boy on prom night. You put your headphones on, turn up The Clash. There is a swelling din of expectation and angst as Joe Strummer’s ghost restlessly stirs with the validating summation: “What are we going to do now?” You spend the rest of day packing up books and parts of your desk. The shelves wobble without the weight of pages to keep them steady. You leave your boxes at the foot of your desk.

folding chairs in a hallway
phones ring
and ring

The stoplight washes green over the hood of your car. This early in the morning, it’s only by reflex you go. You ignore the stereo, the defroster blowing progressively warmer, the rumble of your own stomach churns like a peppercorn mill. You ignore the dry cracking skin stretched over your knuckles, the unkept birdnest of bed head, the nagging cough which you can feel in your kidneys. You ignore the empty school bus in front of you, the road cones slowly collapsing lanes of traffic, and the monotonous ding of your email notification. You ignore your iPhone, the primer-painted Ford Focus passing you on the wrong side, and the ticking of your Citizen watch. You ignore the seat belt locking snugly under your chin as you adjusted your seat. You ignore your dad’s phone call. You ignore Hockey This Morning’s in-depth analysis of the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 win last night over the Philadelphia Flyers in front of a sold out crowd at Rogers Arena. You ignore the sound of your wiper blades squeaking with a meditative thump. You ignore the feeling of raked steel across your heart. You ignore the day old Dunkin Donuts coffee sloshing around in an eco-mindful styrofoam cup with a plastic lid made from post-consumer waste. You ignore the empty glass bottle of Perrier rolling around in your back seat. You ignore the dirt under your fingernails, the progressively greying hair in your sideburns, and the uncashed check in your driver’s side door. You ignore the reflex that goes with stopping.

twenty questions
end your sentence
with a preposition

Jim Warner is the Managing Editor of Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program at Benedictine University and the author of two poetry collections Too Bad It’s Poetry and Social Studies (Paper Kite Press). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The North American Review, [PANK] Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Smartish Pace. Follow him on twitter @whoismisterjim.

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