Six Poems by Jill Talbot

Infinite Jest

I’m sleeping under the bed
in solidarity with the monsters,
I’m sleeping in a shed
in support of the fraudsters.

Dan Magnan,
Tonight I’m going homeless,

got a new pair of socks,
got every hipster on her knees
from Kamloops to Fort Knox.

Bob Dylan,
The SkyTrain stops at Hornby,

Rupert and King Edward,
I’ll sleep with all you wannabes
with whiskey on the record.

I’m sleeping under the bed
in solidarity with the monsters,
I’m sleeping with the inbred
in support of the gangsters.

Einstein
says monsters are as honest

as memories set to rewind,
that madness is all relative,
especially knowing mine—

the cup half-full or empty,
he can get a grand hotel,
if I want some solidarity,
we can empty it ourselves.

James Joyce,
A kid can make more on the streets

than working at Papa John’s,
in support I look up tweets—
a portrait of gunman.

I’m sleeping under the bed
in solidarity with the monsters,
I’m sleeping with the skinheads
in support of the wankers.

Kerouac,
Downtown Vancouver calls for rain,

the city drowned in birdfeeders,
Tinsletown joypopers’ call for fame,
the Emperor’s new wifebeater.

Philip Larkin,
I’m speaking out against

the philosophers and the poets,
an old Blockbuster down the tracks—
I’m looking for Leonard Cohen—

Joseph Boyden,
I’m speaking out against the cold,

The Indian in the Cupboard,
Mary Mary quite contrary,
against the bloody sword.

Pope Francis,
The Lord of the Rings you pray to—

Saint Anthony if you conceive it,
don’t forget to look both ways
before writing a goddamn thing.

I’m sleeping under the bed
in solidarity with the monsters,
I’m sleeping with the airheads
in support of the bruisers.

Woody Allen,
The New Yorker
did a thinkpiece

on homeless Yank cadets
reading David Foster Wallace,
a pack of crank cigarettes.

Got me thinking all wrong things,
like Ford as a punching bag,
like sometimes an expiration
is the best news and the drag.

Sometimes you’re better off alone—
sleeping with anyone—anywhere—
that you can think all you damn please
and still end up in despair.

I’m sleeping under the bed
in solidarity with the monsters,
I’m sleeping in pencil lead
in support of the mobsters.

Hastings and Main Bloody Marys,
Wastings and Pain Bloody Marks,
Silver bells and cockle shells—

Vancouver are you hungover?
Searching for Sugarman?
Immortality is overrated—

a portrait of a swan.

I’m sleeping with the Grinch
in solidarity with the women,
I’m sleeping without fringe
in support of the heroes.

 

No Selfies Go

Naloxone kits given out for free at the foodbank. This is where you run when there’s no where left to run, this is where you go where no selfies go. This is where you go like a rat—the closet with a Linus blankie—the closet with no regrets.

The closet where you’re too tired to run and got no where left, but to death like a secret kept between marks on a test, between pauses between breaths. This is where you run.

The Naloxne you’ve got saved up, though you don’t know if you’ll actually use it—what’s the point of running if you stop half way.

This is where all rats have hidden from silence—from lab coats—from presidential campaigns and sugar-free Cheerios. This is where we’ve gone.

The shelter where you left your blanket is a block away from the McDonald’s where you got coffee and saw the ghost of the person you once were when you ran so hard and so far you wished for a life savior—this is where you run—under gutters where the stars are brightest and you can kiss away bruises with paint-by-number

Nalcron kits. In different days I’d say I never wanted any more than being a ghost in the McDonald’s. In different days I’d say I’m sorry it happened to you, but I’m really all right. In different days I’d say opiates were better than poetry.

The opioid crisis is only a crisis when it’s also the only place you got left.

What’s the point of new paint and insurance on bumper cars.

What’s the point of running when—

What’s the point—

What’s the taste of methadone in heaven.

What?

 

Psychoanalysis

The girl with the teddy bear has lost her fucking mind,
It’s a seashell; no this is not one of those things where
That girl is actually me, this is not one of those things
Where I am the one pointing the finger or screaming—

I don’t even know Spanish—the girl has lost her mind
Like jellybeans—the girl is not herself, you see. The man
Is giving them both hell. Men do that. Women do that.
In Spanish or English, it doesn’t really matter. We’re all
Shouting more or less the same thing—

Get me out of here.

Close your eyes and think of England, the saying for when
Women didn’t want to have sex, which was supposed to be—
More or less—always. I have a teddy bear for thoughts

Like these. I have a closet full of hospital postcards waiting
For psychoanalysis. But no, that girl is not me.

It’s not a seashell but a snail. She screams snails, I scream
Seashells. You scream, I scream, we all scream
To stop thinking of England. Men point with numbers,
As if equations are the solution

To anything. That girl is not me. Her sunglasses are red, mine
Are white. Sometimes the frames come out. Her lips are red,
Mine are blue. She’s put together

Only with glue. She needs some Ativan. She needs a shrink.
She needs to grow up and do grown-up things. She needs
To be wary of fire and other dangers. She needs to get away
From screaming men. She needs to stop

Counting the numbers, counting the trains and sneezes and
Sirens. She needs to learn to love her neighbors, or at least
Not fear them, not poison their pets and pee in their yards.
She needs to stop playing poker. She needs to learn that pain
Is not a badge of fucking honor

When it’s self-inflicted.

She needs to cook. She needs to settle down.

She is a paper-doll with a paper-doll bear and a paper-doll heart.
I am made of paper but I am not a doll. My bear is more of a person

Than you will ever be. This is the truth in Spanish or English,
I am not that girl. She is only on by bedside table because
Somebody’s got to be. Somebody has to survive

The fire. Somebody’s got to be able to say, it wasn’t me. I am not
That girl. End of story. The girl that is me doesn’t exist.

Scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, rock beats,
And beats and beats…

 

When Bathrooms Got Political: Part Two

Life has been hell ever since
They put in the new bathroom
Laws; a suited pillowcase sign
For republicans, an elephant
In a tutu sign for democrats.

It was a new day in America. Canada
Followed suit but the third-party system
Caused building developments beyond
Taxpayers’ ceilings.

I work at The New Yorker. Every once
And a while I sneak in the pillowcase room,
Which is more like a padded room
Than a bathroom. It has been empty
(More or less) since the program
Started, after Trump it was basically
A ghost room.

I sit in the padded room toilet—I’ve found
The only place quiet in all of New York.
And wonder if I’ll be fired tomorrow,
Wonder if they know I’ve got fishnets
Underneath my suit—tailor-made
From Rome.

Next time I sneak in a cartoonist
Has gone nuts on the walls
With Sharpies. And they’ve replaced
The towel dispenser with straight-jackets—
A condom vending machine—tastes like
Bubblegum—and takes Russian
Constantine rubles.

I knew we had officially lost the point
When I caught Malcolm Gladwell
Napping in the Republican powder room.
But I don’t mind because at least
I am original, which is what we strive for
Here at The New Yorker.

 

When the manager tells me 5 months is not a reasonable time to return an audio cable

I want to tell her London Drugs does it for 6, some places do it without a receipt, after years, after wars and tornadoes—

that it’s about time I got something in exchange for something broken in my life, that the $7 I paid probably doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve got less in the bank—

that I walked all the way in the cold because I still can’t drive and sometimes listening to music makes me feel a little less crazy—

that I used to come  to this pharmacy every day for opioid replacement therapy—

actually it’s called maintenance therapy because it maintains you in a dead-like state so you don’t want to die, that would be redundant—

that things breaking is also becoming redundant—that nothing’s really all that reasonable any longer—

that some days I want to shave my head because I’m tired of split ends, like these cables my hair doesn’t want to stay together any longer—but who does?

that next time I buy headphones, I’m buying wireless, that a psych nurse once put me in restraints for hours with my arms above my head and my legs  spread—

that I was sweating so much my pajamas stuck to me, that today I saw a bee trapped in a spider’s web and I did nothing to help—

the humming sounded like a death march, that sometimes my cat brings me breakfast in bed that’s still alive—

that they take wires from you in the hospital, even if they aren’t long enough to hang a mouse—

that an editor told me that people don’t want to know this shit and he’s probably right—

that once I had lunch with retired popo and a pharmaceutical rep and knew I had officially sold my soul—

that I wish that the Jehovah’s Witnesses would stop leaving shit at my door, that I was once called a mad little whore like it was a term of endearment—

that I wear long sleeves to cover the scars, that I saw a spider caught in its own web once and watched it struggle through 3 cigarettes—

that sometimes I wish I had another maintenance prescription—

last time they made me get off cold turkey and I didn’t sleep or eat until I ended up in the hospital where they gave me the same blue pills I took as a kid and was told not to tell anyone from the therapist who years later got me to write graduate papers for someone else—

one in ethics and that’s not funny to me anymore, that my life has been planned obsolescence and it’s the most destructive part of capitalism and planned parenthood probably has a slightly inaccurate name—

it was a one-night stand in LA, that’s all I know—a transient Mexican or Caucasion(?)—

that though I’m paranoid of strangers, research shows you’re much more likely to be hurt by someone you know, which is why I keep strangers as strangers—

I’m tired of everything breaking regardless, and planned or not, it all breaks—

that I just seen two pigeons lying dead on the sidewalk, obese, depressed—fucking dead and faceplanted—

that every day someone calls and leaves a message for Tammy and I never answer because nothing’s beneath  American Express—

that this $7 seems like nothing but a Russian stabbed a guy over a debate about the merits of poetry v prose, and another murdered over a chess game—

and it’s possible I have an attachment disorder that makes these exchanges more difficult but I actually tried to take this one back rather than collecting broken things—

I debate grabbing the receipt and audio cable back to add to the collection—

stare at the counter, hesitate a moment, then walk out, let someone else carry the burden of the broken, even if they just throw it in the trash.

I make it a block before walking back.

 

Viral

Handwritten notes in black and white,
Could’ve been a school project.
I always want to warn them—
Though all the good that did me.
Sometimes warning is another way
Of not hearing—I was twelve
When the internet came into being,
In chatrooms I always told the truth,
I was young—ASL was what they said
Back then. And one guy asked—I am
Just realizing that you probably don’t
Want to hear this and I probably
Don’t want to tell you. But I have
Never stopped thinking about
Amanda Todd and how awful it was
That the whole thing was a trend,
And now everyone has probably forgotten
Though not her mother who probably
Thinks about her every second of
Every day. The internet is the entire
Humanity compressed into bite-size
Data—missing the choking hazard
Warning. I’ve been trying to go AFK
But it never lasts. I’ve been trying to forget
That some people don’t come back.
God is wireless. God is the CIA. God is
Never elected. God has seen you naked.
God knows your stripes. A viral video
Travelling the globe—her mother will be
Flying to the Netherlands while I will be
At a stupid poetry reading, pretending
Poetry can save anyone—coughing up
Bite-sized bits of humanity like blood.
But if purging ever worked—nobody
Would be bulimic.

 

 

***

Jill Talbot attended Simon Fraser University for psychology before pursing her passion for writing. Jill has appeared in Geist, Rattle, Poetry Is Dead, The Puritan, Matrix, subTerrain, and The Tishman Review. Jill was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.

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2 Comments

  1. “that an editor told me that people don’t want to know this shit and he’s probably right”- feel free to tell your editor “screw you” from yaogal in Malawi— I would like to know

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