These boys I know have got to be the smartest in the world.
They are in my room and I’m happy that they’re here, so happy that I can barely speak. Or maybe that’s the acid in my dinner plate eyes. I just sit back and listen, nodding, smiling, hoping I don’t look too stupid. I let the scatter-plot logic wash over me, absolution.
The canister gets passed around again, and I pass it on just like I did before. Even though they said they guarantee that I’ll like it, even though they’ve all done it. I want to sit back and observe the walls’ breath.
Porter stops the canister’s cyclical passage and hops up on to the bed. As far as I know he’s drunk, tripping, and on track to inhale some laughing gas. I admire his ability to bend reality around him like the sun’s rays over the horizon. Nothing looks quite the same after he’s been past it. I smile up at him, wondering if it will be the raw chaos of the universe this time, or something better.
I try to catch Keenan’s eye but he is off to himself, eyes cast downward, probably low enough to see the bloody walls of his soul, or hell. I make a mental note to ask him what his revelations are when we both come out on the other side. I forget what my mental note was within the next minute, and then I forget that I made a mental note at all.
These boys seem to move as one amoebic organism,
travelling in packs like
wolves, maybe, or
jellyfish. I am honored to be a cog in their mechanistic madness.
Elliot is playing guitar, rasping his fingertips against the strings like they owe him. I barely recognize the song that he’s playing, but I know that I like it. The angry fast beat is right in time with the red demands of school and jobs and other friends.
I don’t feel like they demand anything, though. All Porter and Elliot require of me is the occasional voice to help them with their feelings and sometimes a room in which to trip over things when tripping over things in public would result in arrest or endless complications.
They take turns drinking vodka, lips a straight seal to the bottle, and when the handle is finished I hold out my recycling so that they don’t forget and leave bottles on my floor again. The blue plastic bin’s guts rattle with glass and aluminum and plastic, vessels that provided brief journeys to a furry consciousness. None of them are mine.
These boys have invisible crowns,
woven out of bushy green resinous plants
(poor material) and the stringy viscous
snot of cough syrup
(a good adhesive).
I thought for a while that I really liked Will. He made me nervous, always staring from behind those thick frame glasses, but I liked it. I’ve always had a hard time distinguishing roller-coaster butterflies in my stomach from nausea butterflies in my stomach.
One night we split off from the group and he was talking to me about the meaning of life, and how beautiful the stars were while he tried to roll a cigarette. I giggled at first, at how much trouble he was having. His jittering fingers barely seemed capable of holding onto the communion-wafer-thin paper, much less packing it with tobacco and rolling it into some semblance of a cylinder.
He dropped the paper and the wind carried it away from us. He pulled out another one and dropped it. This one fell, weighted with tobacco, to the ground. He got a third and was explaining how mind-fuckingly huge outer space was when he ripped it by accident.
I don’t know what I’m doing, he said, looking up at me with thin blue irises thoughtlessly pushed aside by a yawning abyss of pupil.
These boys are my friends and sometimes I don’t know why.
The other night I held Porter in my arms while he sobbed and vomited and drooled and talked to me.
I’m so fucked up I’ll never get anywhere. I’m gonna get kicked out because of that one test I didn’t take I was already on academic probation and had the vandalism charge I should’ve gone. I rubbed his back while he emptied his guts, first into the toilet and then into my ears.
I wanted to listen, I wanted to help. I told him that I believed in him, even as I noticed the crooked stare of his gummy drunken eyes. I told him I believed in him, even when he told me about getting fired from his job- that was news to me. I told him I believed in him, and kept repeating it even as his eyes fluttered shut in a sleep that would be anything but sound.
I stayed up almost that whole night holding him, looking up at my ceiling that was first pure blackness and then revealed more and more of its intricacies the longer I stared, the longer I prayed.
The next morning I took him to breakfast and made sure that he drank at least one glass of water and watched him get on the bus like a mother with her toddler the first day of kindergarten.
He didn’t remember anything.
These boys have made me question life, and also death.
He told me he used to cut himself up for fun, and that for a while he wanted to die. He said he had to stay away from ledges, from high places, not because he was afraid of falling but because he was afraid that he wanted to fall.
One time we drove to the top of a mountain, like real American cheaters, and the wind was trying to shoo us off of the rocks at the top but I scrambled to the edge anyway, peeking my toes just barely over the abyss, looking down at a drop that would rip the scream from my throat and push my stomach out of my mouth.
I thought he was beside me, but when I looked back he was yards away, just shaking his head. Just standing there, still, and shaking his head.
I love these boys,
but it’s like soup
that splatters in the microwave and
often you have to clean the sides
with more than a paper towel.
One night Elliot was too high on opiates, so he sat on the toilet in the bathroom and wailed riffs of Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird until Porter and I came to his rescue. We sat outside of his stall door and played guitar for him, mostly quiet fingerpicking or softly strummed chords.
Aw, you guys, I love you guys, he kept mumbling over and over again. We played louder, because we didn’t want him to fall asleep. When he stopped his reedy harmonies I slithered under the door and found him, mouth lazily open, leaning against the side of the stall. Some graffiti next to his head proudly proclaimed, “i’m god, bitchez” in hefty Sharpie strokes. I hoped that someone else wrote it.
I slung him over my shoulder, his beanstalk frame making everything difficult, and unlocked the door. Porter and I sat him down in the shower, nose away from the spray so that he wouldn’t choke, and turned it on as cold and as high as the knob would allow.
The next morning we biked to class together, his legs only a little bit clumsy from his trip to the other side of consciousness less than twelve hours before.
These boys I know preach sacrilege and practice hedonism.
to the vast glittering psyche of LSD,
from the bottom of beer cans,
confess their sins
to the always-soft shoulder of locked doors in the darkness.
They flirt with death-
they have her number and they think she doesn’t have theirs,
inviting her to bed and making sure
that they are the first to come and not the first to go.