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Like elton john selling boiled peanuts outside seaside, 

I too am out of place. A hearse would be no heavier with my body. In other words, call me a believer, or a girl’s handstand on Panama City Beach Pier,  the acid-green drip from a boy’s snow cone. Watch me two-step in and out of space amid sand dunes, my denim pockets fat with broken sand-dollars and a chest full of the ripest hurricane, the beachgrass telepathic. See  me slip  between  the  boardwalk’s slats and solve my own riddles as a family screams away in a Lincoln  Navigator,  only  an alligator   floaty—no  child—left in the lot. Watch me take it  out by those water-slapped docks, becoming fin and feather, a fantasia of flotsam choked up by Poseidon himself. I know, too, an angry son, a dead eye, a sheep’s cry, untrim the sail and sing my pride between the boulders flung vast and blast the bow onwards to my childhood’s shore in Cromer, where I become a whelk deep in the malt vinegar of a Styrofoam cup, a penny jammed in an arcade slot until I finally spark and kindle my own religion: Prometheus in a pillbox hat, moonwalking into the sweet shop for a bagful of cherry bonbons and a cheeky kiss from the cashier. Watch me chant Freddie back and shave his mustache into the most perfect heart.   

Early Morning in Tallahassee

The light a wash of blue-gray 

on the blinds, 

and my years-long tinnitus 

from all the noise rock 

is somehow less. 

After a minute, I fumble naked 

out of the sheets. 

Why is there always 

a part of me 

that resists the day? 

The cat uncurls and yawns. 

If I were younger, 

I’d cover myself 

and say sorry, 

throwing on a robe before 

forking out her 

Fancy Feast. Now, at 30, 

I flick on the light 

and fill the stainless-steel kettle. 

How far I’ve come. 

In a past life, in Callaway, 

I tossed a dining chair 

at a friend of a friend 

and missed, though 

not the clown figurines. 

I blamed the three Coors 

and endless shots 

of Old Crow. 12 years later, 

I’m two months sober. 

But fruit flies still 

dally the peaches 

and litterbox, although 

they may be gnats, 

but don’t ask me 

the difference. 

I only know one thing—  

my first love was 

a blond-haired boy 

named Josh. 

Josh of the glow-

in-the-dark ceiling stars 

and pull-out cot. Josh 

of the Nerf guns 

and tiny Lakenheath igloo, 

which collapsed on us. 

Where are you now, 

and why is the boy in me 

still bearing you? 

In the dentist's office, d.c.

My loafers are higher 
than my head on this hard, 
ivory-colored chair 
on D St. NW.  
The dentist, who is my age, 
30, and very nice, 
has been gone a long while, 
long enough for me 
to feel again the horror 
at every possibility 
on Web MD, although 
the dentist reassured me 
that the ulcers are benign, 
from the Latin benignus
meaning kindly, 
which they are anything but,  
caving into my gums,  
my tongue, the floor & roof 
of my mouth, the back 
of my throat & arriving  
with a sting like yellow-
jackets, which I’m battling 
on my patio, or in-laws—
but let’s not get into that—
or bees, whom I could forgive 
& whose honey helps 
heal them, these canker sores—
there are so many names 
for every God-made thing,  
even though I don’t believe 
in Him. No, I prefer 
sea salt on a wettened Q-tip 
pressed right into 
the yellow-gray matter 
of them, saying You will not win 
even though my eyes tear 
& my mouth beads 
& my temples rage & 
rage against these sometimes-
bloody raids
lesions & lesions & 
who are they to stop 
my drinking, my acid-eating—  
who are they to say 
Own your inheritance. Yeah, 
I went gluten free 
in fear of celiac disease,  
which 23andMe said 
I’m at a higher risk of,  
but I don’t think that’s it. 
No, my mind always 
goes straight to—what else— 
cancer: Oh, you’re such a prima-donna
which always makes me 
think of Madonna & those 
slender pink-fun gloves 
unlike the dentist’s fat 
clinic-blue forefinger—
We need to do something
about this gum recession
probing this other 
raw and holy cavity. 


Iain Grinbergs (he/they) is a former middle school teacher who's pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Florida State University. He's a finalist in Black Lawrence Press's Fall 2021 Black River Chapbook Competition. You can find more of his recent work in Ghost Parachute and Jersey Devil Press. 

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