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(1)

I’ve always had a certain love for exits
you see a permanent immigrant to more bachelorhood
than strictly necessary, me giving in

to the pollution like weak tea, me as chops and
giant blocks, a paperboy with the taste of ashes
in his friendly fingers or a

reporter with no news, a robot of light
bicycling backwards from the gravity, shirt off
set to kill the haze: I see

exits everywhere, library or restaurant
hospital or airport, roads already tilting towards their
sequels, regeneration in a

black hole, reversed dollars, missing owls
I’m your meaty amnesia, your continuous
last chance, your fire escape:

your super crutch.

(2)

we’ve transplanted you, my five
hundred pound shadow, my uranium boy
my pile of pills and ditches

but your monkey business still thrives
my hypnotized hen, my fire-eating frankenstein
my sleepwalker, you squawk

like a hostage every time I touch your toes
so I’ve memorized your jaw line
my bachelorette, my nightly reflex

my silly scavenger, my glass tax
you’re the perfect amphibian for this
sunny tundra, my juju, my invisible

dogface.

(3)

every bachelor knows the desperate
olympics in his cerebellum won’t get
him the girl, that eggshells

are her flytrap, that enough turbulence
can misguide any plane, that mutations
come with too much time

alone, but that there must be something
worth anything because every bachelor
has fallen in love

with his idea
of exits.

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PETER SCHWARTZ is a poet, photographer, and writer. His poetry has been featured in The Columbia Review, Diagram, and Opium magazine. His photography has appeared online at CELLA’s Round Trip, eyeshot, and Litterbox magazine. His fiction in such places as Nano Fiction, Pindeldyboz, Prism Review, and DOGZPLOT, where he is art editor. He thanks God and O.C.D. for his extensive publishing credits.

12 responses to “exit signs”

  1. Aaron Dietz says:

    You had me at “weak tea”. Probably also because I like tea allusions but primarily because there is some extraordinary and imaginative and smart stuff going on, here.

    Ah, exits. That must be what’s so appealing about the highway.

  2. Wow, thanks Aaron. Yes, I used to love when Kurt Cobaine sang about tea. Most teas have a minimal amount of flavor yet can be so comforting; so for something so close to nothing, they’re good workhorses.

    Amen to highways and exits. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately because I’m about to set off on a little book tour. All I can think is: GO!

    Thanks again, your comment was actually what let me know this was up.

  3. kristen says:

    “roads already tilting towards their sequels”–

    Great, that. And the rest of it as well. Situates so nicely into a poem.

    Love “super crutch”…

  4. Hey Kristen, thanks. I do believe “super crutch” is the best two word combo I’ve ever found for myself. In many ways I am a cripple, there’s so much I don’t know how to do in the world. So I’ve paced like a tiger in the closed off realm of words and images, practicing and practicing, and so my “weakness” has become my greatest strength. I mean shit, I’m on TNB ain’t I? Thanks again.

  5. Aleathia Drehmer says:

    “we’ve transplanted you, my five
    hundred pound shadow, my uranium boy
    my pile of pills and ditches

    but your monkey business still thrives
    my hypnotized hen, my fire-eating frankenstein
    my sleepwalker, you squawk

    like a hostage every time I touch your toes”

    There is something playful yet painful in these lines. The heaviness of shadow that seems to weigh nothing in reality–the boy that feels as repugnant as radiation, those feelings covered with intricate lacings of drugs and internal graveyards. But how playful to then make fun of that pain with images like “hypnotized hen” and “fire-eating frankenstein”.

    Good write, you.

    Alea

  6. Jordan Ancel says:

    every bachelor
    has fallen in love

    with his idea
    of exits.

    Yes we do. But won’t it be nice when the day comes that we won’t feel the need to use it?

    Very nice, Peter.

  7. Thanks sleepyhead!

    It’s funny, I read the “repugnant as radiation” line and thought: oh yeah, that is what I meant. I wasn’t fully aware of that contrast of pain and playfulness either. Can you say savant? Please keep making me sound good like this, smart lady.

  8. Thanks, Jordon. I’m working hard for that day. Those exits are pretty strong in me though. Time will tell I guess, and in the meantime, there’s always pornography.

  9. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh, man, there’s so much pornography. And how awesome is that?

    As a man who has spent a very, very long time in bachelorhood, I’m curious – do you think it would be better to approach the opposite carefully and tentatively, or jump in with both feet? Or some mix of the two?

  10. Very.

    I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability you show in asking that question, not to mention that you’d even care about my answer. I think here is the real bitch of loneliness: the lonelier I get, the more desperate I get, so the faster I want to move. Experience tells me this is a recipe for disaster because it takes time to build anything real. Holy shit, I’ve morphed into Ann fucking Landers. That being said, sometimes it’s actually worked. I’m pretty sure I moved pretty quickly with Barry Graham, Colette Jonopulos and Erin Fitzgerald and they love me to death so I don’t know, maybe it’s not even a question of pace but of simply finding the right people?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Man.

      For 27 years, I existed free of the concept of loneliness. Older friends would talk about how they were scared of getting older and being single, and I would honestly be puzzled and think… why?

      Because to me that would be like being worried about not being able to set yourself on fire. Why would you care if you couldn’t, you know?

      And then one… individual… ruined it for me. Suddenly I was aware of what loss and loneliness felt like.

      What an asshole.

  11. I’m sorry that happened to you, Simon. You know, you doooo have that lightsaber…

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