Sunday Service: Sasha Fletcher

WE DON’T HAVE ALL NIGHT

Above us is the moon. It is huge in the sky
and it is bearing down on us
as though
there was no tomorrow
because tomorrow there will be nothing but the moon
up in the sky and looming
all ominous and heavy and bright
and that is just fine with us. Listen.
We could use a sense of menace around here.
We could use a call to action Or a house
Or a barrier. A magical barrier.
like a fence. We could use a fence.

****

Why a fence you ask?
Because of reasons, which are as follows:
demarcations, unwanted elements,
property values, taxes, building codes,
civic duty, creepiness, and bears. Dear bears
we built these fences for a reason. Dear reasons
we do not care. Sincerely, the bears. The bears
have learned to compose letters
and nobody cares. Dear food let us eat you
Dear ocean full of menace let us eat you
Dear terrifying ocean full of menace we mean it
Dear wolves we have already eaten you and now we sit here
by the ocean wearing your torn-off faces like masks
until the ocean full of menace gets the picture. Dear ocean
full of menace
we are right here. Under the moon. We are waiting.

****

There was a cloud right above the ground
and it just stayed there like that
for days. Dear cloud just sitting there past the yard like that
are you a metaphor? The radio said
there was no such thing as metaphors anymore.
We both just sat there, trying to feel alive
while the moon threw a temper tantrum
that nobody noticed, because it was already so blinding
and ominous. Dear moon if we tell you a story
will you just shut your mouth and die already?
If yes, then here: Once upon a time
there were some lumberjacks whose faces
had been set on fire. This story takes place
after their faces were set on fire. There were six of them
and also a foreman who liked to sacrifice a bull
every night and dance naked with its horns held to his head.
We don’t know why, but assume it to be some sort of custom of the time.
Every night the lumberjacks would lift their jugs to the sky in prayer
for life to just ease things up a bit
and the sky would rain down upon them
with the horns of bulls and no one was ever any happier
except the foreman whose wife had left him years ago.
Then one day they came upon a river and drowned,
and another day they said Oh look! A river! and drowned,
and one day instead of drowning they went for a swim,
and one day instead of swimming they got on with their lives
with their faces on fire and the sky full of spite
or indifference. Dear sky full of spite or indifference
Dear indecision Dear bad beginnings Dear whatever
it is that we are trying to do here, can we just get on with it already?
Outside is the moon you said. We knew that already you said.
We’ve been over this before. It’s time for something new.
Like the river full of drowned lumberjacks
with their faces still on fire and looking up to the sky
and the foreman standing by the banks with his arms
up to the sky and clutching horns in his hands
as though there are better times out there
and they are coming to find him if it’s the last thing they do.

****

Remember that time that I fell out of bed
and ended up in the yard
in a hole dug in the ground and I was stuck there
because it was winter and I had pissed myself
and the deer were there with their branches blocking out
the moon and just staring at me? We expected this
they told me. Dear man down in the hole
stuck to the ground because he pissed himself
did you think this was a joke? There is, as it turns out,
no escape. This is the punchline.
And they were right. There wasn’t and it was.
A movie was playing on the side of the house where we lived.
In the movie there was a bar
and everyone was just standing around drinking.
There was a girl there and she was real pretty and she was looking
right at the camera. She said One night I was standing on a hill.
I had tracked down a boy I knew in kindergarten
and he was real handsome. I could tell by his eyes
that there was a warmth inside him. An inextinguishable warmth.
And I was standing there watching him and thinking
about all those days when we’d held hands so hard
that our bones switched hands. I wanted so badly
to give him back his bones. I wanted the whole world
to breath with me. I watched him open his door
and pause. He turned his head up, like he saw me, like there was this train
hurtling towards both of us across time and the countryside
and it turns out everyone at the bar was listening to her
and they said What happened? What happened next they said
What did you do? But she wasn’t listening. She was staring
out the window of the bar at the moon, which was right there,
at the door, listening, just begging her to go on, but she didn’t.
That was the end of the movie. Everyone at the bar went home
where they all held bull horns over their heads and
like the minotaur of myth
ran headfirst into their dreams.

****

Dear grocery store clerk Hello My boyfriend
is in a hole in the ground but I, I am here
in the grocery store. Dear lights of the grocery store
I find you reassuring in a time like this
and would prefer you not to ask what times these are
that I am referring to. I would like cereal
and some bacon and many eggs because eggs
are delicious. Dear grocery store clerk
have you heard about the bears? Dear the radio
I would like to hear that chorus again, the one
that tells us everything is going to be alright
while the strings tell a different story entirely.
I have heard that there are wolf pelts available in the forest.
I do not know if that is an item that would sell here
but I found it worth mentioning.

****

There was a movie on the side of the house when I came to
and it was a movie of me stepping out of the hole
and into your arms. The firemen stood around
and applauded, axes nestled in the crooks of their arms
and their helmets perched at a jaunty angle.
The whole thing had the air of a high school dance
or a funeral or a spelling bee I guess
There was a ceremonial air
is what I am trying to say.
The camera panned to a pile of dishes in the sink
and me with a growing gut hollering about my loneliness
in an empty home while on the roof you stood staring
at the moon. Dear subtext go drown in a lake.
Dear the moon go to bed. I keep waiting
for the wolves to start howling
for those tender wolves to bare their teeth
to offer us their tender drugs, their pleading mouths,
their free all-night babysitting service,
to describe to us the opulence of their stomachs
and how our destiny ends right there. But all I can hear
is the ocean swatting at the shore.

****

Dear ocean it is the bears. There are no more wolves
to howl at the moon, yet here it remains,
bossing you around like a boss. We will eat the moon
if it means that you’ll die. We cannot swim
but we have thought about just walking out into you
until our bodies pile to the surface
and you are no longer the ocean, but just an endless bear carpet.
We would do that. We have the votes. Dear ocean
do you think we are terrified of you? Do you think
that terror is the only possible explanation here?
Do you see us here, with our best wolf faces on,
just sitting and waiting with our intentions
a mystery to all? Dear ocean it is always wartime in our hearts
and you will either live with that or die with that.
We really don’t see any other outcome here.
The other night we heard there was a movie
but it did not move us. We would like to be moved.
We would like to weep. We would like to try not to eat
everything that terrifies us, snapping their heads with our jaws
until we bite through our own mouths. If you think this is a metaphor
then you think too much. From time to time
we fill our bellies with dynamite and launch ourselves into the sky
to show the stars what it looks like to finally realize you’re dead.

Sasha Fletcher is the author of the novella WHEN ALL OUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED MARCHING BANDS WILL FILL THE STREETS AND WE WILL NOT HEAR THEM BECAUSE WE WILL BE UPSTAIRS IN THE CLOUDS [ml press 2010, calamari 2014] and a couple of poetry chapbooks.