Souvenir

A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Anaïs Duplan

 

 

 

The Flying Phalangers

You and I are filthy but it is
our filth. Look how quick the clouds
when you expect bad news. Here is
a telegram I have never received:
Please. Hold out hope. The best
is nowhere in sight. Why always enough
time for lonely but insufficient
time for full. My cup of tea held something
dead in it. The fly I named Henry
because it had that look. Remember
when the magpies muttered like toys
outside the cabin where we prayed
for no more rain, no more secret
wild animals. When you face the wolf

do not comment on the color of its eyes.
Do not waste time trying to find
beauty in all things. Reserve your awe
for mammals in flight.

 

 

An Account of a Child Born Alive without a Brain and the Observables in It on Dissection

 

I wept for the suffering of dolphins. By that
I mean the cicadas, by that the rained-over slices
of bread on the gravel, the birds that mistake

car antennae for homes. Do you recall
the words that god said. No.
How could you. It was all in tongues

and arms and legs. It was all
in those children’s hearts, the screamers.
No more solutions. Only this:

my severed arms. Someone has severed me
for stealing the merchant’s peaches.
Someone has hanged me

on a public street for slander. A common
mishearing. I said, there is no
hare on the moon, and they heard,

the tribunal heard, there is no end
to your hunger and fasting, and fastening
the rope, the reaper told me,

the mechanic told me to smile.
I did. He showed me his tongue. 

 

 

Tat Tvam Asi

I met god. He was my dog. We laughed about it.
Hello my loved one, I am drunk. I am
a circus freak. I hobbled up the road
just to see if you could see me. Blur me,
blur me, me. A tribunal of geese
told me to seek my father, to pen
a letter: Hello I am your spawn.
Wherefrom do I come. What’s your nexus.
And the sky shot blanks shot blanks. I will die
here on this planet here on this blur, me.



 

 

The Invalid

 

Daily, a man  would come to   my  door to sell  me peanuts.   He had been  punched in the face, time and
time   again.   You could  tell  by   the way  he smiled.   That  was  the most  romantic part.    His teeth like
shattered  diamonds.   You  have a  mouth  full of chance,    I told him and sucked  on the  peanuts’ outer
husks. You have a mouth full of loss.   That  was  the most  romantic part.   It was the seventeenth  floor,
which is prime and unlucky.  All  things  in their prime  are unlucky.   There were never any lovers in that
hallway  , not even at  night and you  know you know   what  the  night does.  Peanuts  never  stayed  the
night.   Just the please miss  would  you like to  buy some    nuts.    Once  I begged him  not to  go  but he

grabbed his  gut like he  had an animal in there.   Once at a stoplight  I   saw  him   on  the corner  smiling
his   sweet  mangled face  at a  lady  with  two  children.  I saw stars.  The kind you see  when   someone
wrings   you  out.   I yelled  to him leave me  out  to dry  why don’t you and you should’ve seen  his   eyes

then.   Since that day no peanuts  but I adopted a cat and  did  not name it.    That is my   comeback,  the
nameless animal  skulking around the  apartment,   the  invalid.   I make little replicas of the invalid  out
of soggy  toilet  paper and   place  them all  around so the cat gets a startle here and there,  seeing   itself.
Never saw Peanuts again but  suspect he jumped off a bridge. My mother  told  me never to  get angry at
people  because  they   could jump off  bridges but  she’s dead so  I’m back to not  knowing   anything.

One day the invalid inspired me,   how it ate  at its  nameless paws,    and I burned my birth  certificate.  I
come from the  future.   I told that to the man  selling   hot dogs   but all he   wanted to know was  do  you

want  any  mustard.    I wrote  a song  for  Peanuts  on  the inside of  the  hot dog  tin  and  sang  it  to   the
invalid. Peanuts, who touched you that way? That’s as far as I got but someone told me it’s all about soul
and I still have one.  The lady on Elliot St.  tried to  get  me  to  see  god  but  I  told  her  I’ve  already given
everything   I’ve  got  for a chance at the big leagues.   She said when the rapture comes there   will  be no
time for baseball but she’s wrong.

 


All of my tattoos are souvenirs. Right now my favorite is the bear on my back, which I got on Capitol Hill in Seattle a few years ago. He's standing on his back two legs, one paw raised, and has these big blank eyes that are terrifying and beautiful.  When I'm out in the woods, I like to think he scares the real bears off.

Anaïs is the author of the forthcoming chapbook, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Phantom Limb, PANK, Birdfeast, Blackberry, The Quietus, The Conversant, and Transom. She was born on a little island in the Caribbean during a coup d'état. She has a website. It is here: www.worksofanais.com.