Imagine a completely different version
27,000 feet above zero.
There I am, a pseudo-Greek statue
frozen amidst the Death zone.
I’m trying to tell you something.
Please continue the search and rescue.
I am making my debut in a plush pressure suit.
Blasting my trombone, which sounds
like an asshole having a stroke.
Imagine that that can’t be edited out.
Also, my spit hath frozen to my mouth.
I need to evacuate. I’ve already dropped
40 pounds. I’d rather be down
at the villa, in the arcade, i.e. in outer space
with a suitcase, eating a plummity plum
on July 29th, 1891.
But the Sun hath started to come down
with the heralds of passing out
and a guy selling nitrogen.
I need more oxygen?
I think I have some. I think I am some.
I think I am sailing for charm and concision.
I am aching for this swan to become my wife.
I am frozen, a completely pseudo-version
of life, the degenerating type,
the most bizarre of all equations.
One who is clear and as abruptly bright
as an l.e.d light. At any height, any price—
We shineth like an atom! Even as you become
conscious that that is a Sherpa, frozen
at the summit—where one must recount
the darkest of appetites.
In what storm, off which side
of the mountain will I plummet;
by which painted pumpkin
will I be found? In chainmail, in the heartiest
of spells? Breathing fire and ice
into the most bizarre of equations,
which does and does not
behave as a binary notation,
according to Quantum assumptions.
ONE AUTUMN EVENING AFTER MARK STRAND
I dropped into an evening party of B-picture personalities
who, in a perfunctory fashion, were walking through
the actions of the characters they had never fully become.
One was pressed against a glass door, and in the attire of a mail
carrier. Another was holding a bowl of cherries, which he said
had broken his heart. I tucked a couple into my breast pocket
and excused myself, just as I watched him touch my mother’s hand.
Later on, my opinions being confused, I continued to walk
until I had walked through an entire dance hall, which had
no roof or walls. The quiet chant of the air in an unstruck
hour—might have been so much that I woke only in a crimson-
leather jacket, a bird in my hand.
How to account for the difference of light that would fall from her blue
and yellow shoulder? That too—a dream I do not wish to comprehend.
My favorite keepsake would be a ‘93 six-pack of Coca-Cola, marking the North Carolina Tarheels' triumph over the Michigan Wolverines (77-71) at the Louisiana Superdome. After the game, most headlines read “Webber’s Timeout Gives UNC the Championship.” The six aluminum cans are blue instead of red--in honor of Dean Smith's second national title. The rumor went that the coke inside was blue instead of brown. I've kept the beverages in a bedside chest ever since they arrived in the spring of ‘93. From time to time, I check for signs of erosion. A sticky, tar-like substance now marks the bottoms. It is brown.
Eric Helms holds degrees from Furman University and Columbia University's School of the Arts. He works at Columbia University and is an editor for Redheaded Stepchild. His latest work can be found in American Athenaeum and Death Hums, Issue 2.