“Any one of these days can be the new first day, Day One, where things seem to be going well. No problem. Any missed understanding can be beginner’s luck, it can be even better than you intended, a kind of innocent perfection. I’ve read a climbing perch can live on land for up to six days as it travels between bodies of water. And Love, we’re also but travelers here.”—John Gallaher
By Claire Bateman
GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—July 2018—John Gallaher’s forthcoming book of poetry is Brand New Spacesuit. He is an associate professor at Northwest Missouri State University and has served as an editor for the Laurel Review and for the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics. He lives in rural Missouri.
Watching People Do Things Not Knowing Why They’re Doing Them
By John Gallaher
At first things seem to be going well, but that’s just because
we’ve made no real attempt at understanding what’s going on.
Like how grandma thought LOL meant Lots of Love.
Now you’re the grandma. Great. But someone has to be the grandma.
Someone has to wish Lots of Love to you on the death of your mother.
It was good to be away from the service, forcibly and quickly
from the house with our practiced casualness, the way professionals
implode large buildings, how the building falls as if falling asleep
with the dreams of all the people inside. We’ve been doing
what we do a long time now and maybe things are getting away
from us a little. Say it’s a TV show and you’re the show runner.
You’ve run the show for a long time and now it’s time to go.
But you don’t want to. Or else it’s that you don’t want the show
to go on without you. All these words you’ve had them say.
We’re going to do it because it’s what we do, 23 skidoo.
I too have fears of ceasing to be. It’s dusk. You’re unsure
at the light switch. I don’t want to get this wrong, you think.
Maybe this is a playful interaction? Maybe they’re joking?
And say you’re this normal person just trying to get through
your normal day. Say your name is John Gallaher, and you’re just,
you know, getting by, and then it’s a dance party and you’re doing it
all wrong. Who’s to say it’s wrong? Maybe it’s “Dance Party
the Wrong Way Day.” Any one of these days can be the new
first day, Day One, where things seem to be going well. No problem.
Any missed understanding can be beginner’s luck, it can be even
better than you intended, a kind of innocent perfection. I’ve read
a climbing perch can live on land for up to six days as it travels
between bodies of water. And Love, we’re also but travelers here.
We Are Everything We Can Call Ours
By John Gallaher
I can count on my favorite shirt not to let me down.
There’s no nostalgia like this shirt, whispering “1977”
from the drawer, late at night, to ease my sleeping.
It’ll only mean trouble for you, that kind of nostalgia:
canted shots and cigarette commercials. “Stop reading this
and go outside or something,” that kind of nostalgia.
Call your mother from a pay phone or imagine calling
your mother from a pay phone, even if you have to imagine
a mother. Best if you have to imagine a mother,
then you know you’re really onto something. Everything’s
always catching up, with a turned-up collar and looking
for the union label. A splash of the new. A pre-future
nostalgia. It’s the perfect outfit for remembering
the volcanoes of the distant future. Silver disco spacesuits
nostalgia. Maybe we’ve forgotten how the future’s
supposed to work, how we’re supposed to want to get to it.
The romantic notion of us sitting here that they’ll imagine
someday. It’s like being the best person in town
at Rubik’s Cube. You could’ve had a shot at TV, if this
were 1977. But now look at you. Now you get to call it art.
The kind of purity uselessness affords. There’s the closeness
you want with other people vs the closeness you have.
At any moment Rubik’s Cube could make a comeback.
It’s poised, as the future is poised, with hula hoop
and how the wind gave the flags a little extra whip when TV
had a closing time, when they’d tuck it into striped color bars
and sing to it. Duck, maybe, or maybe you’re supposed
to step out in front of it, as a bus coming at you, or the rapture.