Back to Issue Thirty-Six

Daniel Johnston




sang that whole summer, said since junior high
when he lost his mind he’s been ​trying
to make sense out of scrambled eggs

and I, high school punk, late-stage nerd
perfumed by an overactive limbic
system, pledged fealty to melancholy,

nodded ​damn straight​, like
I’d ever had to know anything
in my life. The drive to dogsitting

felt like a secret: the eggshell horizon
leaking albumen of weak-knuckled light,
an orange suffocation, the old lab

wheezing around those June mornings.
I don’t know how to explain this —
how when I look back at those months

everything was steamed dogshit,
bleaching grass, night buffering into
daybreak, the headache of waking,

watching ​Friday Night Lights
until my eyes closed against their will,
Matt Saracen’s cheekbones, my sweaty thighs

splayed on beige pleather, the stereo, never
getting out of bed, the stereo, Daniel Johnston
on the stereo saying ​I have to live

these songs forever.​ That old lab,
I’d hardly let him pee before I’d go
again, and I couldn’t stand it —

his arthritic vigil at the door when I arrived,
his ecstatic drool, then his panting as
I walked out, the asthma of being left.

Is it ok to tell you this? Sometimes
I thought sadness would kill me.
You know, don’t you? The nausea

of dawn. The not-dead-yet
man’s song playing as you leave
the thing too lonely to love.



Hannah Matheson is an MFA candidate in Poetry at New York University, where she is Poetry Co-editor of Washington Square Review. Previously awarded scholarships to attend The Frost Place Conference on Poetry, Hannah’s work has been nominated for a Best of the Net Award and has appeared in Four Way Review, Pigeon Pages, Solar, and elsewhere.

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