REMEMBER EM THOSE COFFEE SLEEVES THEY SCRIBBLE ALL THE NAMES ON?

So they know who to call? Caramel no-whip choke artist for Carl? Venti skinny-dicked frapplerock for Eleanor? Well, what if they all ended up in the same pile? Cardboard headstones. Excuse me: not cardboard: anonymous biodegradable mulch, bashful and forward-thinking. Remember how they’d never let us do a sleeve with two names because they had a strict vocal efficiency policy and remember one time they argued that even if we shared the same coffee one of us would inevitably drink more so why not use that one’s name? And how that put us in a bad mood because: logic? And how I yelled at them that the strawberry frappuccinos were colored with crushed beetles because I’d just read about that on Cracked.com and you got embarrassed and apologized to them for the way I changed the subject? Do you think moods evaporate or do they fossilize? If you were a mood instead of a person, would you want to be dead under soil? If I had to guess I’d say you’d want to be reincarnated as the first koala bear astronaut, which makes me think of you laughing and wearing your rollerderby bicycle helmet with the stencil of your friend who died riding her bicycle, which makes me think of John Prine singing “You know she still laughs with me / But she waits just a second too long,” which makes me think of John Prine getting a coffee and having to give his full name because: so many Johns, even though John Prine probably slinks from recognition, since he knows there are people like me who if they heard his name called would pay for his coffee to thank him for letting his songs lick all the dark blood, and he doesn’t want to hear me dissertate about how much I miss you or frappuccino beetles or my theory of moods as dormant autoimmune diseases.

REMEMBER EM YOU TOLD ME I COULD STILL MEDITATE EVEN IF I DIDN’T TAKE IT SERIOUSLY?

Remember Em you told me I could still meditate even if I didn’t take it seriously? And the problem I didn’t tell you was I took it too seriously and I was afraid if I centered my so-called consciousness I would melt and drift like a killer iceberg? And you got exasperated with me trying to mess with your concentration and one day you started crying and telling me I didn’t take you seriously? And I said that was categorically impossible because my definition of love is taking a person seriously? And you said that was cagey weak sauce bullshit? Just take me seriously or leave, you said? And how I tried to apologize by buying you a Reeses peanut butter cup, even though you’re semi-allergic to peanuts, because every Halloween you and your best friend from Nebraska who moved east with you have a pact where you split a Reeses peanut butter cup, except your best friend moved back to Omaha last year because the city kept giving her pink eye, so last Halloween you texted pictures back and forth of your mouths with half a peanut butter cup inside? And I put the Reeses cup where you would find it after meditating and waited in your living room playing Goldeneye on your housemate’s N64? And you found the cup and brought it out to me and said in this really tired way “Neil, you know I can’t eat these.” And I explained about the best friends thing but you shook your head mid-explanation and started to throw away the Reeses cup but then you said “Here, will you eat it? It seems dumb to waste it.” And your face was how it used to get after meditating, like it was all made of the same one muscle, which I guess is what happens when you sit fifteen minutes with your hands crossed on your lap trying to be OK with the difference between knowing yourself and being yourself, which is to say you looked like a forest in Germany where the trees are black porcelain, which is a secret thing I never told you that I see inside my head when I think the word “seriously.”

Mike Young

MIKE YOUNG is the author of Sprezzatura, Look! Look! Feathers, and We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough, which was selected by readers of The Believer as one of the Top 20 Poetry Books of 2010. In 2015, Black Cake Records released his first album Imagine a Fire You Can Wear as a Coat. Young publishes the free online/print literary magazine NOÖ Journal, runs Magic Helicopter Press, and lives online at http://mikeayoung.tumblr.com.

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