Back to Issue Thirty-One

Late Stage Capitalism Blues


What are my bones worth again, I think,
and the brown fat under my skin
like a soft stain. Days when it rains
and there are no good books
and no movies that intrigue me,
I’m caught in one fantasia after another:
Minneapolis will adore me
for all frozen eternity
for the glory of my last second touchdown,
even with a broken leg.
Tucson flowers because of my kindness.
The hour I spent in its airport,
which is unremarkable
though the distance was all blue-mountains.
I won’t forget that, ever.
The song goes: I’m all out of love.
This makes sense to me.
I have no argument
with sentiment.
Let me say to you, reader,
all the magic is gone.
There was never any.
This is truer.
I owe this world nothing
and yet my pockets itch
and my poems are elaborate apologies.
I’m sorry for my lungs,
they say to the air,
and I’m sorry for Geraldo Rivera.
Which makes no sense.
I’m haunted by loss.
By the abrasive hymns that cicadas sing.
Breathless, and starving,
and full of pain,
I am waving to the colorless cars that whizz past.
Where are you going
so fast I want to join you
and sing beneath my breath
my name my heart my old sad wound.



Paul Guest is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Because Everything Is Terrible, and a memoir, One More Theory About Happiness. His writing has appeared in American Poetry ReviewPoetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, Slate, New England Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and numerous other publications. A Guggenheim Fellow and Whiting Award winner, he lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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