to be in the hands of a control freak.
You can send them a picture of you looking directly into their eyes
and they can have an experience they've never had before.
The picture of you looking like a camera discovering a mistake
in the moment people are alone:
1. The troposphere in pieces falling out of the Florida sky
2. The world’s longest floating human chain
3. Entire rivers are missing, meaning
meaning sound sound meaning meaning sound.
You know you’ve been inside too long
when you recognize all the faces and there’s no
replacing them, no substitute of any meaningful kind.
The picture of you in your monkish robe.
Could pull up the blanket and stop
talking but you’d rather touch
the microphone key and say
comma than touch the comma key.
Fear of focus comma fear of
caring comma fear of reality
adding an interface of its own:
They’ve declared a Civil Protection Uncertainty Phase.
New equipment to deal with the earthquake swarm.
The picture of you making a little noose from a weed stem.
The picture of you talking like you’re talking to another person
so the neighbors think you’re on the phone:
“...empire of stromatolites...”
“...putting on my soft pants...”
This nasty feeling you’re doing it backwards:
Looking at the world’s oldest
eyeball it’s best to concentrate
on whatever you’ve lost with
as little verbal clutter as possible.
The simplicity of the object itself,
there is nothing more relieving,
this feeling you are not particularly real.
It might all be true, you think, but you know
it can’t all be true,
titanic tectonic forces,
a world of mouthparts
with mobility, bug eyed and
bristling, as long as
a man is tall.
History has no shape.
Swept from the nest you
built your whole life.
On your own hook.
Fly ball major impairment, anything on a dare, the senses are intertwined without pencil or
paper, varieties of the disorder, my emotional tone is tall dark green, the number eighty
nine resembles falling snow and a
third shape, the answer, forms in the negative space between them like a crystallization, I
pull it apart in my head like leaves, the properties of prime numbers have a pebble quality,
soft and round without the jagged
edges of numbers that can be factorized in a desire for sameness, a year after, bottomless
wells of recognition, authority on forms of afternoons, looking at you today in a new way
that fits with your profile and
what must the others have made of me, I have no memory of them at all, in the background
of my tactile experiences I counted everything, trouble for taking things literally (how can a
finger swear), no concept of
deception to this day, the sound of the toothbrush scratching my teeth, exactly 45 grams of
acquired skills, in the final cut in the cultural firmament, building my memory palace, so
much otherness with apparent ease, a walking exception, you could do it too, what then
would be the difference between you and me, what do we have in common, the nature of
our endless speaking stumps
me, oxygen tank amputee quickening into laughter, the last line of injury, the noble assist,
every fact, every page independently, a fit of such magnitude that Rachel through thick red
frames tilted to the side, a
waterfall of age, from a squirm of discomfort to astounding literalness in only one night, she
likes to be called deeply off, the American heart a fist-sized blister flushed with sedatives,
esoteric, his thick forearms and wrists, handsome of his generation, his watchband slipping
up my forearm as a kid, a deep roar a mystery far too sociable or something else entirely,
our bellies distended at the table, I’m just going to do a little scanning, my
memory palace quickly, I just remember, well-spoken seemed so extraordinary, we came to
with a capacity to narrow, to lie dormant inside, declarative memories so spontaneously, so
and a few gentle days at a "farewell" clinic
and by the time you saw the plane the rockets were already on you
and poked out the meat from the back of the claw
and everyone gets shot except the Judas goat
and let the longing crowd out everything else
and pooled into regional, highly creepy “fusion centers”
and ever since then he’s been keeping the big guns and selling the small guns
and show me what acupuncture on horses is like
and the social smile urges
and been reborn as money
and all we've got left is a patch of his blood that says boo
and I promise you a salamander at the end
and he soon returned to his spot at the baby animal's eye socket
and endlessly saying hello to friends appearing from every direction
and if I lose it which I often do I paint it again on top of itself
and when they land in forests they break great trees in half
and in the end I was the one looking at them through the microscope
and clean indentations around the eye to receive the retracted antennae
and wake from the coma a lefty
and race into the bush, blade-ribbed, begging for rest
and when they find out they become brats
and allows fluid to escape from your chest until your insides are replaced with the fungus
and our nature rubbed its face on everything
and mouths the size of a needle
and it’s my duty to love anything she loves
and fix their eyes whispering in ears and deceiving folk
and black shapes dart from rock to rock over my hand
and when you drown in fresh water the water flows into your blood through the lungs
and puts this look on you of total surprise but not a look of horror because your body has
and go through the bag and recognize objects by touch
and a new human race spawned with a new language
and making their bodies invisible in the classrooms
and when in contact cause their membranes to explode
and bites down with its saw blade
and astronomers fire lasers at them
and flap my new tailfin once
and at every age we’re wrong
and any surrounding areas that may be illuminated by the moonlight reflector
and breaks its neck against the glass
The Some Things Have to Be Killed and That’s It, Period
was a period of great success for dinosaurs.
I love the lag between the moment they died
and the moment they understood their anger
demanded too many resources.
The day after the big round up everyone thinks
we had the home stretch all to ourselves.
And the planet thinks, the proper use of planets
is to send everyone home.
Planets must be cleaned between uses
to reduce animal anxiety.
Our anxiety comes from the vegetable world
and it doesn't mind, the earth doesn’t
mind to receive it again.
Paul Longo is a biomedical engineer and writer living in Portland, OR. He directs R&D at a medical startup developing products that treat traumatic bleeding. His work has appeared in Best New Poets, Fanzine, and Fence.
Photograph by Ash Ponders