in which the past repeats itself

so I
saw people posting
their favorite books
they had read last year
and I thought, “I should
do that” and “I think
I CAN do that
fairly easily”
and then I went on
the site that I use
to track my reading
and got the list and started
manipulating it in
spreadsheet form.

at first the list was
a bit overwhelming
as it was 600-odd titles
so I quickly filtered out
only those read in 2018
and arrived at a count of
418. more than one a day.
which seemed excessive
even for me.

chortling and chuffed,
feeling highly superior,
I quickly fired off a tweet
with this number, rather than
double check my work.
big mistake.

further investigation revealed
the true number was ONLY
177. this now seemed paltry
compared to my huge boast
and furthermore I felt a fraud.
since someone had already
responded (shocker!), I did not
delete my original, lying tweet
but merely buried a clarification
amid the replies. further filtering
gave me the 25 books that
were published in 2018, and of
those, the 10 I liked best.

anyway the second, secret
point of this exercise
in self-aggrandizement
was to set my reading goal
for this year. 200, I said to myself
and filled in the box.
then I thought to look
what my goal had been last year.
200, it said. I achieved a mere
88% of this goal.

I tried to feel good
about myself nonetheless.
other people (presumably
gainfully employed, parents, normal
to slow readers, or all three)
were listing goals of 10.
25. one ambitious soul
said 52. ok. I can beat
that. the site is stupidly
counting re-reads which
in my opinion is silly,
but it works in my favor,
so I’m not complaining.

surely I can read even faster.
surely I can prove
that I’m the best
at reading
if not so much
at math.

idol

I read a book
about Sylvia Plath
and despair. it seems
so much easier
to write poems that
scorch the earth
when you’re not planning
on being around when
those cruise missiles
touch down.

well, I do not plan
on dying, ever,
so where does that leave
my stabs at poetry?

blinded,
broken, Oedipus at Thebes
could relate.

maybe I’ll just wait
until everyone I know is dead
before I document
what I really think of them.

sacrificial rites of passage

I’m done
sacrificing myself on the altar
of those who never truly
loved me.

I cut out my heart with a knife
and gave it to you, and
you discarded it like
a dead bird you found
outside your window. okay,
I said, and turned myself down
a notch or ten.

then I crammed my hollow body
in a box and mailed it
C.O.D. to my mother,
who refused delivery.

so when it comes to
the old Aztec ways,
I’m over it. give me a
hot new death and a cool,
clean slate, maybe a
scalpel this time.
tell the gods they’ll get
their pound of flesh,
but the contents of
my skull will stay
a mystery.