Post Road Magazine #19

List of 50 (11 of 50): WORM LOOP

Blake Butler

1. The muscle over Evander Holyfield's heart is so thick they can't read his pulse rate through his chest.

2. Perhaps if I rented an apartment in his aorta, then, some soft nights I would sleep.

3. The endless ticking, scraping, sirens. Faceless bodies.

4. The buzz of lighting bulbs.

5. Woke this morning to the fire alarm, wondering how soon they'd come to shut it off.

6. I always feel inefficient working out.

7. Usually giving up on barbells after four or five minutes. My face in the mirror stretching red: the endpoint of my muscle.

8. The groggy grunt of others in their short-shorts. The sex noise of their breath.

9. The germs spread at every point of contact: doorknob, faucet, handshake, air.

10. Each infected person can infect multiple new people.

11. I used to think I really wanted all my brain cells.

12. Roughly 9,000 neurons die each day.

13. Chalk dust. Grunt of baby. Peripheral decision.

14. The LCD glow masking my face into some shrunken version of who I was before America Online.

15. One gram of brain mass lost per year per person after age 20.

16. The sum lost by a nation. By the globe.

17. This list item has been left intentionally blank.

18. Last night someone unknown knocking on my door at 4 A.M. No one through the window.

19. Gang rape behavior has been exhibited in bottlenose dolphins.

20. Please just let me sleep.

21. When I was young I want to be a bricklayer, a baker, or a painter, in that order.

22. For a while I mourned not having been an astronaut, though now I feel tired even when I walk.

23. The way the deep blue concrete floors in my apartment show the dust and dirt so quickly.

24. The loose hair in the bathroom.

25. My bed sheets slick with archived sweat.

26. Sleeping on the same down comforter for ten years now without a new slipcover, like my skin.

27. It has rained every day for the past ten days.

28. One third of the Bible is writ from visions or from dreams.

29. The Spam surviving filters to my inbox: Who is it that receives God's endorsement? Have a break from the crushing chaos of Christmas, and rest in the Saviour's Arms. The Flash-Lite Vibrator from Nasstoys is a working torch that has a powerful vibrating bullet in the tip.

30. My most favored feeling these days from finally letting my hands under the water after some time reading in the bath.

31. The crack of the dry skin, like molting. The shiver through the teeth.

32. 12% of people dream only in black and white.

33. Often the hours pass so fast I'd swear I'd been inside someone else.

34. Realizing I've been driving for some time without looking at the road.

35. Each year more people are born than die.

36. My head wormed with the words of others, gone and replicating.

37. Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man.

38. Sometimes staring for some time into the refrigerator though I know there's nothing there to eat beyond the ice. The light encased.

39. Sometimes the phone will ring and there will be no one.

40. And of another stripe—the time at age three I talked to a man in Texas having dialed his number by chance practicing my counting.

41. Our conversation lasting twenty-seven minutes according to the bill.

42. The wire strung between us. The hum breath at my tongue.

43. Our talk ending only when my mother came into the room and found me on the phone at which point the man hung up.

44. What words that man might have whispered through me. What indexes. What uploaded numbers. His parables. His sickness. How he has affected who I am.

45. Hid language in my brain forever layered under spreading, clogging fissures.

46. The myth a worm will grow back at both ends when cut in half.

47· How in any surface, there are holes.

48. The house around this house.

49· Tomorrow I'll wake up feeling different.

50. The writer of this statement cannot verify to be true.

List of 50 (25 of 50): DOPPELGANGER

Blake Butler

1. At an art show I saw photos of myself projected against a wall.

2. The shots looked nothing like me, I thoughtthe me that I imagine.

3. Mostly on film I look stoned and/or retarded and/or malformed in the face.

4. I don't feel like myself through a significant portion of most days.

5. My skin pale and loosening. Pulling my hair out, eating nothing, running miles.

6. Some days I feel better.

7. Call a man a thief and he will steal.

8. I tried so many people in my phone tonight. I could find no one.

9. My cell's memory fat with names. Often I let it sit against my leg and buzz unanswered.

10. A fourth consecutive day of raininghumid and hellish. I drove and drove and drove.

11. Unable to think of where else, I aimed for Alabamaland of fireworks and dirt and sunburn and other slosh of a scorched mind.

12. Ten minutes instead I turned and started north, to nowhere, burning gas at an average of 14 MPG.

13. Stopped at a gas station to buy some cashews. Cashews like little faceless men. Tiny lives I could eat and eat and shit out.

14. Something I could own.

15. As I pulled into the gas station I saw a truck run through a doga mutt. The squeal of brakes on wet concrete. The yip of something hurt.

16. One year I heard a cockroach scream like teapot whistle when I

crushed it with a book.

17. The woman got out and yelled at her driving daughter. Both car doors open, spilling light. I sat in my car and watched.

18. They held the dog while it tried to stand.

19. The dog with short brown hair, like a billion other dogs. Walking around without a name.

20. I considered getting out of the car but my head was bobbing. My head that doesn't look like my head. Several other people circled.

21. My breath stuck to the windshield briefly and dissolved as if never there.

22. The dog wasn't bleeding. It kind of walked. It did what my sister's dog does when distressed: it smiled.

23. They were still watching when I left. I did not buy cashews. I headed home.

24. Driving with no music. The sound of the car and the goddamn windows down with the rain and heat.

25. The buzz of wet night humming, sucking me through it, nowhere to go.

26. My cell phone silent in my lap.

27. Coming under the streetlamp in the parking lot at my apartments, a bird flew into my car.

28. A bird flew into my car—through the front passenger window. It flew near my head into the back seats, its body bashing against black glass.

29. I parked in the aisle and got out. I stood with my head heavy, ripe with light.

30. I rolled my other windows down and popped the hatch. The bird still could not see how to get out. I could hear its wings and other bird sounds.

31. The crick of meat and gristle.

32. What to say to coax out the encased?

33. Finally it learned the exit by trial and error and fluttered into the sky, so gone.

34. I closed the car. I went back to my apartment and stood on the parking deck they've been building for forever.

35. All the puddles in the pavement. The drip of buildings.

36. The bird still boxed inside my head.

37. My brain spinning like some kind of rolodex full of names I've never read.

38. Now, back home and encased in my own way inside the slick black walls of my apartment, there is tennis on TV.

39. Blake vs. Ferrero.

40. I've never heard about a tennis player with my name. I watch as if he is methe me I've not yet known.

41. I am wearing a white sweat headband and white sweat wristbands.

My grunt echoes through the court.

42. I am losing.

43. The twin screens in the room the only light.

44. Doppelgangers cast no shadow and have no reflection in a mirror or in water. They are supposed to provide advice to the person they shadow, but this advice can be misleading or malicious.

45. Something about seeing myself sweating in precision on TV, the center of a billion eyes, wakes the notion in me now to eat.

46. To make my face change. To swell and stutter. To balloon.

47. So many wants.

48. In the refrigerator, nothing but spinach. The soft green taste of dirt.

49. Still, I stuff my mouth. I drink a glass of water and feel it filter through me, my belly bloating, the flooding water making sound inside.

50. I turn around and watch me serve into the net.

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