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samuel j fox
Hearts Are Never Practical
He often sugars his coffee so thickly the liquid appears to be WD-40. It numbs his throat. Lime grows like algae onto those joints and bolts, the corrosion too dense for removal. Now-a-days, he scrapes and scrapes and polishes and waxes until he looks cohesive, well put together, filled. If anything is to be learned about blood it is that it has iron and carries oxygen. It’s no wonder most die. People eventually rust until they break.
He told me he didn’t feel like crying gasoline tears to sleep again, so instead he got up to find the Nyquil. This is how it often is: he must soften the hard dark into dreamlessness. He tells me when he does dream, it is often filled with vigilantes and old lovers who do not recognize him. He is too accustomed to wearing a mask in the daylight; he maleates it to fit over past scratches.
Most people lie too much to be heroes; when someone asks how he is doing, he always answers with fine. As in finely-filed. As in ground down to marrow. As in the fine a life takes when the toil demands loss.
He swears he knows nothing about his skin, except that its atoms, creases, and orifices must be spotless. No one can ever be spotless. He swears that sometimes it leaks. What’s below is moving, living, and he doesn’t know how. Dorothy lives 584 miles away. It’s not important anymore to know what his metallurgy yearns for. It’s not important anymore to check his oil, or clean the grime, or to remember how that frame was once strong. Love is a thing for men with hearts. Love is a thing brittle in time. Love is a thing that changes as much as blood cells do.
If she were here, I know he’d lay that heavy, hollow skull on her lap and empty its compartments. Who needs a heart when someone offers you hers?
All these years that we both believed in God—who’s been behind the curtain, has been for many years now, playing wizardry, playing continual Genesis—he doesn’t know if anything without a heart can believe in God. I almost did long ago. These days the hope we carry with us is that existence gets easier and bravery more a type of acceptance. He unbolts himself too often. I unhinge my jaw and all that comes out is a whimper. We let people in who scrap what’s left of us: his gears, my marrow. How long? How long would it take to make an artificial heart? One that doesn’t feel so heavy or so cowardly?
Samuel J Fox is a bisexual poet/essayist from suburbia in North Carolina. He is poetry editor at (b)OINK; he has work appearing in Five 2 One, Maudlin House, and Grimoire Magazine, to name a few. Find him on Twitter (@samueljfox).