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July 15, 2011      James Hayes Nichols
Posted to: No Headline, prose poems - 0 Comments - Click to Comment


We were failing to understand the significance behind that mathematical preamble, that playpen for bigkids, pent up and bored — the stylish ennui of teenagers — and we thought we were so cool but what were we really?

Dorks. Whale penises. You didn’t figure that out till years later, after it was far too late to go back and change all the things your hindsight said you’d done or not done, the wrong and the right (latenights on porches or barstools: “First off I’d-a worn smaller shirts, and I’d-a shaved that unibrow. Seriously dude, the fuck was I thinking? And I’d-a just talked to a girl I liked. God, if I’d known how far just talking gets you, man, and that was seriously the first and best chance I’ve had before or since and it’s gone and what were we thinking?”), but at the time none of that was known, it was hardly cared about and it was absolutely certainly no way ever talked about, except perhaps in furtive doodoo philosophizings, pants around ankles and shit tickets wadded up in fists not yet hairy, not yet rough with callous — dude, you’re a dork. No girls like you, just a metalhead dork and mom even thinks you’re GAY. Dorky fag — little inner belittlings which were nevertheless over by the time the can was flushed and your butt was clean, put back on the backburner of consciousness so that you could go back to the more important business of thinking and acting like you were a badass — put on, of course — with beerfridge larcenies and metal shows and outdated skate tricks and messing with people who, if you’d met them years later, you’d probably think were really good people but not now, not then — not ever, you’d think.

And all the while, really, you were only a scared gawky dork-kid who’d go home and cry into pillows when some football captain or smartass football captain hanger-on would laugh at your hair or your clothes or the way you talked or the kids you poked around with, cry and punch the side of the bed, filled to the ears with bile and bullshit and backtalk you never dared to use to a football kid’s face. And heavy metal the only outlet, the only purpose to your snotty little shitty life except maybe for that time your English teacher made you write a poem, and you went home and wrote it — an afterthought — while Slayer blasted in the background and you just did it to be done with it (twenty or so unrhythmic rhyming lines about spring and rain and unrealized romance, so teenaged, so grungily earnest), but you turned it in and the teacher read it and her eyes widened and you thought you saw the barest creakings of a smile contort her pudgy pancake face, and she said “James, this is fabulous. I mean really, it’s simply fantastic,” and she kept it at her desk and a few days passed and you forgot about it but then one Friday the teacher asked you to see her after class and you tried to think about the number of times you’d fallen asleep at your desk that week or how many tardies accrued or which test you’d bombed or even, vaguely, if she would pull a wholly-undesirable TILF proposal (she wasn’t the hot just-out-of-college geometry teacher/cheerleader coach, she was the spinster bluehair English teacher, the kind you’d see in a Twisted Sister video or something) but she smiled warm and said “I hope you don’t mind, I submitted your poem to the student literary magazine with my recommendation. Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me you wrote poetry? I never would have thought…” and on and on until your head was heavy and tingling with praise and self-congratulation and hazy notions of being a heavy metal Homer or some kind of teenage prophet, some Coleridge of the cafeteria, and she asked what poets inspired you and when you answered Phil Anelmo and Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield it was an honest answer that you wouldn’t slap your forehead upon the recollection of until years later…