Image: Salvador Dali – Barcelona Sphinx, 1939
Austin Beaton studied Spanish and Creative Writing at the University of Oregon, where he was a finalist for the Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Competition in Poetry. His work is set to appear in Peach Mag & (b)oink. He lives near the ocean in San Luis Obispo, California and loves sparkling water, tennis, and giving nicknames.
Concession a Commencement
What’s the word
for this baby destruction
to vacuum a thumb tack
against knowing you shouldn’t?
Mother, by not saying enough
I lift the lighter
to the balloon
with what holds. Your birthing:
a planet earth given
unasked, gift belated
of dinosaurs & legal segregation,
and ass shape,
the new newest lover
shading over the old
meaning again in love
I watch me
wear your childhood
homesick of my skin.
Have I ever been a me?
Was I ever not dead-ish?
Crawl through your death
but a scarlet room vaulted—
cedar floor latticed of scrolls
cursive with explained secrets—
and it’s disappointing,
a silence that reaches past
towards the morning
swallows 177 acetaminophen
then decides against
the suicide note:
no warning, no notice,
each unanswered question
melted down to its atoms
to a curious infant.
Law of Conservation of Energy
From here wildfire sky
distant like rotting peach
above a dead leaf wind-turned over
into a brown lizard
the size of birthday candle—
sound no more than a disruption,
music made of the same old atoms
rushing to be on time to day care,
never disappearing to a fake farm
like your dead labrador puppy,
not dying of dysentery
but rebranding, playing dress up,
than the solar system of the molecule
as the man talking to himself
on the train
into an associate on a conference call
or a nurse arguing with an overdosed patient
hoping he misbehaves
so he can pin down his sternum
and tickle the daily linoleum existential
coursing through your teen grandmother
so an amoeba can halve under a microscope
and a hit song from your favorite summer
at a radio station in a state capital
many Americans won’t remember
where sleeps your ex
who’s done so much without you
he won’t share.
Shift buddies stock drinks,
talk of heartbreak & moving
then—Jason to the register please.
Jason to the register.
That’s how it can be
with a soft pink colander
straining the days
in its own cranium:
the comforting remixed
with other reality jarring:
sad song lyric
reminding Sweetie is statistically
a future stranger:
errant alarm clock
startling an unproductive meeting:
remembering the coast of Canada
will bend completely by 2097
because of our carbon
ejaculating. Sometimes it’s enough
to be grateful that at least it wasn’t our
son, to celebrate the automatic
nod of a roadside construction helmet
flipping STOP to orange,
the extinction of the possessed woman:
pre-coined schizophrenia jumping-jack
-ing around her skullcap,
(a Roman medic heating the poker
to sear the ghoul out her sternum).
But not this here. This the year the Phoenix
must stumble & drunk stumble
91 nights around 7-11
till she buys the lighter to burn herself
into newer, more refined confusion.
This the morning
it’s the smells I miss:
oil rainbowed into rained on blacktop,
WD-40 sprayed on fish hook.
This the morning
I don’t see the palm trees
and want to go home
but I am.