you couldn’t say no to Patronym so I didn’t either, your little misbegotten weapon in such a fetching hat; small enough to live in a shirt pocket, good deeds like rabbit snares you want to hide on purpose. I wore your lavender shawl from the pre-owned armoire as a super suit. Chased the ice cream truck when it made sounds which later in life redeem a collective and personal melancholy. Patronym said quote “That kid came out wrong.” and since then I’ve been questing for evidence on the contrary. How many rocks have you tipped over and what lived there? What did you name them? And if you did not, in forgetfulness, could I? I reckon I am most like them and they too most like me. A new breed of Rat King for them and of course most gruesome. You said my sweet boy what you say becomes truth I don’t know why I say what I say, I just say it, I have cymbals for hands. They make me write essays. I try to write how Patronym taught me but it’s no good since I mostly know questions. I drop the figuring like dice. The hog kneels before the trough and sups the sweet minerals of Now, before they turn to waste, or a life of crime. I got so used to writing baby Es wrong that all the kids stopped laughing, on account of a tiredness you might mistake for local embarrassment. In the same fashion the chipped tooth and sandpapered horn have become everyday fixtures. Everything you thought you’d be known for eventually blends as a decades long stain in the paisley fabric. Like what grandmother knitted. How no one knows except for me. How no one knows her favorite flower. Makes my hands feel like a world-record. My jawbone something wicked and real, something tall, fresh, out of a science book, a place where I smell like glue.
I imagine you boarded up in that new elderly house of yours, with all those svelte doilies I lit on fire, but the next day they reappeared where I stole them, what with the selfsame dust and original cigarette cobwebbing. Throughout the neighborhood people had followed the green signs I made to the estate sale of our childhood home. The lemonade stand didn’t feel like a lemonade stand on account of our watching our bedrooms get wrapped up in butcher paper and put into minivans of many inoffensive colors. I etched a cross into the passenger-side doors for later, while they weren’t looking. In those days we’d bash fruit flies with clubs of rolled up magazines. My hi-score was exactly nineteen, but one was real big so I don’t feel bad rounding up to twenty like how we learned in math. Satellites hadn’t really been invented for us at that time. At that time, I hadn’t invented a way to think up synonyms, so nothing could be compared. I drew silhouettes with crayons on cardboard boxes and shot them with a pellet gun, pretending to be your All-American Boy. And then the lemonade stand didn’t feel like a lemonade stand, and I couldn’t run away to my secret headquarters in the brush of next door’s empty lot. You said we’d go back and get the stuff I stashed there next week, but we never did. It all fell feetfirst into the dreck of the canal, I know it, just like I know how you smell like the worst rat that ever lived. I also know because I walked all the way back to our house in the rain, wearing my yellow mouse-themed poncho like a cape, and saw it was a pig, gussied up in red lipstick. The letters on the sign in bold were the same color as the pig’s lips and like blood and like I said, my headquarters, fucked and floating away, carried all my treasures. Patronym, how much of this do you remember? One day I’ll wake up and I won’t be ugly forever.
Cherry Boy, Rude Boy, Sweet Bandit, Sweet Boy, Toymaker, Tall Boy, Wind-Up Monkey with Cymbals for Hands, Elephant in a Space of Crystals, Child with Crumbs, Boy with Fly Fingers, Hero Not Yet Ready, I adore you. Where have you been? Sit still with that frittatina, the frittering of your heart’s umbilicus, I beg you, next to the campfire, our body a midnight bivouac, piebalds tied to the hitching post. You knew the matchbox came with a free pyromaniac. Why are you shivering? Your mistakes, permanent as forgiveness, can smell like anything. Do not close off your delightful earnestness; even in advanced age, sounds of Super Mario will chime after each of your adorable half-jumps. You will always be a loser. You struggled against it, the mirror, the bedframe, your first Heartbreak, Death wearing a grandmother’s dress, asking for more than what your finest yodel could muster. Hero, forget that! Learn how to make the perfect pastry. Brief trumpets and twinkling xylophones will make your life beautiful and worth it; many-faced and ugly. The medium-sized kingfisher of your heart needs a wonderful lake; the end of your rope can be used for swinging. Have you felt the breeze on purpose, and did you dislike it? Gentle Boy, your touch is light, each day we learn how to deny this less. When the sun hides, the ceiling will brim with glow-in-the-dark stars, and you’ll know what the Patronym meant.
John B. Oldenborg
(he/him) called Tallahassee home. He recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with an M.F.A. in creative writing. Some of his poems appear or are forthcoming in Misery Tourism, New Note Poetry, Rat World Magazine, Bullshit Lit, Rougarou, Gone Lawn, Grotto
and elsewhere online. linktr.ee/johnblakeoldenborg