Best Worst Year: Episode 97 (Or, Place to Be)

Pour a cheap Malbec into the frying pan. You scrape the morning away from the cast iron surface with a spoon, beneath the boiling glaze. Vapor smells like burning oak and chocolate roses with a fatty roundedness to the scent. You can feel humidity in your fingers, it seeps into bone and joint—inflammation and ache. You have your mother’s hands—at the cusp of an arthritic wither. You have seen the future in bird-wrists and bone sculpture. She was the first artist you knew—bone china canvas, a painter’s palette of soy sauce, cumin, and ginger. Medium of rice and egg wrappers, the undertow folded into edible origami.

doctors inject
Cortisone in your mother’s neck

What drew you to a crown of thorns was the quiet ritual. Backs turned to the faithful, latin, hands washed in holy water over golden dishes. The clean linen. Absence of doubt. Call and response. Like breathing. The clockwork of lowering kneelers in wood pews. Dress shoes on marble. The scarlet ribbon of carpet behind the alter. The mystery wasn’t in the teaching but the serenity of repetition. Even as you walked away from dogma and the leprosy of silent institutions, the act of routine was as much a learned prayer as any commandment handed down to you.

rewriting psalms
in broken english
physical graffiti

Nick Drake’s third album was hand-delivered to the Island Record office in a plastic bag, passed to a secretary with shrugged shoulders and little fanfare. It wasn’t until days later that the label president discovered the masters, as well as the fact that they were brought to the offices by the artist himself. Pink Moon clocks in at barely twenty-eight minutes, recorded over two late night sessions. Compared to his first two releases, the spartan instrumentation felt as if he was vanishing into space between his chords. Within two years of its release, he was full gone. You hear his ghost, decades later, spilling out of a Volkswagen ad. Moonlight convertible summer, his voice as familiar as fireflies. You find him in your record collection–tucked between sophomore year and second wave grunge CDs. The rest of your fall, you find a space, twenty-eight minutes wide. It’s always before the rest of your punk rock flophouse is awake, a small gap between last calls and hangovers. Tomorrow is crawling between the blinds to slide into bed. You start keeping a notebook next to your pillow.

solid state faith stereo static prevails


Jim Warner is the former Assistant Director of Graduate Writing Programs at Wilkes University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The North American Review, New South, No Tokens, and The Minnesota Review. He is a contributing editor for Quiddity. Follow him on twitter @whoismisterjim.

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