Finalist

Alinea

Watching Grant paint in twenty-thirteen, and he was asking why food must by limited by cutlery
and dishware. I’ve had the answer since the day I ate a bottle of Tylenol. My father bought me
the econo-size out of love, and I’ve never repaid him. How much forgiveness can ten dollars
buy? I am restive at night, when the roads are as empty as these words. Trauma indelibly alters
the brain, and I’m just a scrambled egg head. Ketchup is only outdone by cheddar and poblanos,
but if this world needs a new beginning, let it be born from the blood of the convicts that murder
child molesters. The men who would carve their redemption from between Larry’s legs deserve a
diver’s first lungful of air. Someday, I will place a ghost orchid atop a tombstone, and hope that
such a moment is my creation. Until then, I’ll disappear into hours of nothingness. The Doctor
saving yet another species, in yet another universe, and no matter how old I am I’ll always hope
she is coming for me. To take me back to when I was three, when I was sixteen, before the
busted guts, blood, and misplaced glory of waking up daily begging to be dead. It is true, Christ
rose again, but I’ve risen more than eleven thousand days and have no church. I’ve inherited
nothing beyond the sins of other men. And what can I give? As I was butchered in the brain and
body before I could read, what do I have that is not founded upon his hands? I went to Iraq
hoping to die. To give my mother a gold star, and a tri-folded flag. In death my body means more
than filth; it means liver, kidneys, eyes, and heart. Worm food and nitrogen, if nothing else. I
used to believe that survival was victory; but to breathe is to sing the song of the republic. The
republic of don’t tell, of our little secret, of this is how they do it in the movies. The old salts
from Vietnam remind me that the war will never leave me, as if I need reminding. They mean
Iraq, but the molested child knows as much as any soldier. If we’re all inhabited by the spirits of
intergalactic criminals, doesn’t the world seem sensible? Perhaps Earth is just a penal colony.
Perhaps we’re just serving out our time. Or maybe, I just deserve to be here.

 

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