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Jimmy King Apr 2015
I thought of you today when I noticed the dirt underneath my fingernails
And when I felt the wind in my hair as I flew down a hill on my bike
And when I stared at the Hocking River again as it gently swirled downstream.
When I realized I’d be going to bed early and
When I thought about sleeping alone,
As I do almost every night.
When I decided to go the long way home.
When I sat down on a bench, ate a granola bar, and sipped away the rest of my water.
When I threw my shovel aside and dug with my hands.
When I wiped the sweat from my brow.
When I looked at my Aloe Vera plant and realized I hadn’t watered it in a while.
When I watered my Aloe Vera plant.
When I left the dinner table before the rest of my friends to call my grandma
Who once told me that you and I should get married.
When I laughed at my own thoughts
And when Ani DiFranco came on my Spotify.

I don’t exactly know what I mean
When I say I thought of you.
I don’t know anything exactly, I mean
What if the universe jumps erratically through temporal space,
And each moment only seems continuous cuz we only remember what came “before” it, as we say?
When I say that, when I think about that,
I guess I’d call that thinking about you.

I thought about you when I thought about
Getting ice cream
And when I thought I got a splinter,
Neither of which
Actually happened.
Jimmy King Apr 2015
For almost two years we’ve been sitting on a conveyor belt
Heading straight for the potato peeler, which will
Slice right through our thickened skins and puncture our vitals;
A cold cruel machine designed to sit
In industrial kitchens
Waiting for Sodexo’s next batch.

But we—
We’re from the farmer’s market and we are not
Four inches in diameter and six inches in length.
We are clunky. We are knobbled. We are
Purpleyellow and we are waterysweet.
We are not
Iowabland or a poem of rhyming couplets, yeah
We are free verse and we

Had *** because we’re friends.
Or maybe because
We love each other
In one way or another.
Or maybe because we’re lost
Or maybe all of the above, yeah—I don’t know, I just know

The potato peeler won’t accept us for a second.
That mechanical grip, slicing slicing slicing,
A fumbling tumbling in countless browntowhite progression,
It won't accept
Our color, our flavor, our beautiful swirling eyes,
And for a while I didn't either.
But whether we have two more months on the belt or twenty years,
I know that our knobbled progression to nowhere
Will have been one of everywhere.
Jimmy King Mar 2015
Ash from two cigarettes on the stone pylon beneath my feet,
I **** yellowbrown into the Hocking.
My stream meets the river on a riptide,
Carefully crafted from the funneled remnants
Of melted snow and torrential rain
Just to give off the illusion of chaos.
Forms of spectacular watermotion grace the noonday clouds,
And despite their haste, too high on molly,
There’s something hanging in the stillness beneath the mudbrown surface—
Some epiphanic moment that rapidity and angerwaves
Refuse to force out of sight; some
Strand of smoke, still floating upwards from the dampened cigarette ash
Abandoned twelve hours prior; some
Slurred-drunken word, tinged anyways with meaning.

The lips I kissed after climbing back onto the bridge the night before
Proved to be less than irrelevant (screaming later, as they did, someone else’s name
While I lay listening, still half thinking that
Maybe she’d just gone upstairs for some floss). But
The fact that there were lips there at all,
In the rain
Under the stars
Over the Hocking
Issuing with reverence the words “magical” and “perfect”
Through the darkness of the night and the echoes of Joni Mitchell’s voice…
It’s something worth noting, despite the angerwaves;
Something worth feeling
Despite the noonday clouds and dampened ash.

Now that I’ve screamed at the river and ****** on it with a harshlaugh,
I think I can also
Find a moment to give it thanks.
Because I’m off the pylon now.
I’m back on the bridge. And I’m walking South
With the flow of the Hocking, back into Athens.
And I am finally
(The rain beating against my face, my clothes, my mind)
So very here.
Jimmy King Mar 2015
The moon swallowed me whole that night
Walking between house parties at 3am,
And as the **** finally began to wear off
I was confronted with a harsh
Glimpse of sobriety: sitting
In my mom’s kitchen
Where my ex-girlfriend pierces my ears
And wondering
What color the walls used to be. Or standing
Alone on a New York City subway
Too afraid to ask the fat man gripping the pole next to me
Whether I'd yet veered off course. Or waiting in streetlight
Tired, exhausted, ready for bed,
Outside the first concert I ever went to
For my friend's grandma to pick us up. Or dipping
A cookie in coffee this afternoon and remembering the night
I drove straight into a train and ended up in hell.
It was that sort of glimpse.
Jimmy King Feb 2015
We ventured into the hills today
Somewhat by accident, and encountered,
For the millionth time,
The irreality of past experience.

We wore summer sunglasses under the clouds
To block out the many snowflakes,
And over the course of our many conversations
That were screamed through scarves and wind,
The ground went from bare to covered to

"I used to write a poem every day," I told you,
When asked, and you nodded but
I don't know what you heard. There was
The wind, for one thing, but your attention was also focused
Not on my words but on their harmonic frequencies--
On the trail of footprints leading forward.

Somewhat by accident, we stopped in at a friend's
To warm our fingers and
Be made coffee.
In the comfort of that additional company we found,
I think,
That a recent memory
Of crunching icicles sweetened by sap
Preserved some trace of our two-ness.
Happy poems are hard but worth attempting, anyway. Developing friendships, yayy
Jimmy King Feb 2015
Just beginning to start to begin to
Come to terms with
Where I am and how,
I walk away suddenly
From those old dreams, those
Rev-lations of sound,
To meet you--
My consistent stranger--
Under guises and veils and a subconscious resistance
To the idea that it's now been a long time
Since the title of stranger
Was really appropriate.
Jimmy King Dec 2014
.              Part One               .

I wake up in a hungover haze that seems
Irrevocably unending. All the places I threw up,
That stiffness in my neck, the emptiness in my love;
There is too much to feel
So I feel numbness
And I feel remnants
Of ***** in my throat, only manifested fully
When my friends and I make fortune cookies,
Singing along to songs that we’re hearing for the first time
Amidst the chaos of exploding poinsettia plants and nascent tattoos,
All of which litter your mom’s otherwise bare counter.
I don’t make much mention, in my fortune cookies,
Of that girl who still leaves me hungover;
I fill them instead with cruel jokes
That send me cackling
Until my dehydrated headaches pass into

When I’m moonlit tipsy stumbling
Through a campus-wide coniferous forest in Washington State
With two strangers that I soberly think
Might be my future.
We arrive at the clear polluted waters
Of the Puget Sound, our boots all
Sinking into deep-mud as we walk past broken bits of shells
To low tide.
Even as the full moon sinks and I realize
That those two strangers can never be my future
(That Athens, Ohio is my future)
I still walk forward
Into the Puget Sound
Knowing that the water will stay with me
In my lungs, on my skin,
In my mind, and although I don’t tell a single person, I fear,
So rightly,
That the water from the Puget Sound,
Set to perpetually accumulate in my lungs,
Will one day come to drown me.
Even as I cry to my mom in our kitchen,
Relieved from that seemingly endless indecision
I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised
By the choice I’ve made, I’m not surprised
By the fears I still have, all that surprises me
About any of this
Is the immediacy with which
My conclusion’s future culmination begins, as I begin
And continue
While always feeling like I’m concluding,
An infinite

In spirals, spirals, spirals, leaving trails
In subconscious sands, someone paints
Blue spirals on my body, and when
I drive back to Lake Erie later,
To retrieve abandoned items and moments,
The road looks much different.
Less swirly, less threatening at first, and when we get there
We eat pineapple/onion pizza on my ****** cottage’s front porch,
Just barely shielded from the snow, and just barely
Shielded from one another. And even those
Slim shields between us begin to fall
When we stand on our melting Lake Erie.
Because the whole world
Calls to us.
The sky screams, the wind explodes,
The thin layer of water above ice rushes
Blissfully, almost hallucinogenically, towards you and towards I
And I am howling
Into the face of it all,
Fearing nothing—not even
The absence of that girl’s palm in mine
Or the water from the Puget Sound
Or the cold of the air
That is tearing at my scalp; that is tearing
At my whole being and

Is best described by a rampage
Home from a campsite
That I only ever saw
Drunkenly, in the dark, and under the pressure
Of Allan Ginsberg’s poetry and an ultimately failed ****.
On that rampage we steal tombstones,
We steal memories for ourselves,
And we steal crass glances
With crass jokes that sound sort of
Like the crass fortune cookies which somehow
Never went bad.
Someone notes during that drive
That the air is getting warmer
With regularity now,
And while I somehow can’t bring myself to cry when my cousin is shot to death,
I have to struggle to hold back tears
In our high school’s only classroom when you tell me
That you’re quitting that play we signed up for together.
I guess it’s cuz I’m concerned—
Cuz I’m deeply
Deeply concerned—
That it’s a lack of dedication
To me, to what we do together, to everything
That will prevent my rampage from concluding quietly
Amidst the smells of Indian food and the soft light
In your future dorm room
Where I will hug you
And where I

Let all the tears
Flow freely.
I guess it’s the unnecessary intensity
Of this collective celebratory anticipation
That preemptively reveals to me
That the moment of walking across a stage
To receive my high-school diploma
Won’t be quite as transformative as I’d hoped it might be,
And when I make out with that girl who still has me hungover
In the bed at my dad’s house where I lost my virginity
Almost exactly one year prior, I realize that in fact,
I’m still marching the same march, and
Both magic moments of idealized transformation in that bed
Were just as illusory.
Somehow though
Your no longer nascent tattoos have not yet faded
And I can’t help but worry,
(As sweat pours from my forehead and drenches these bedsheets;
As my finger nestles itself tiredly between the folds of her ******)
That I have, and in

When all my anticipation is realized,
People clap in the audience despite the fact
That it’s the same stream of sweat
That’s trickling down along my spine
To reach my ***.
I stare into the spotlight
For just a moment, amidst those stale applause
And in my squint, I think briefly
That none of it ******* mattered. I mean,
Despite this perspiration, I’m
Dehydrated. Hungover. I guess
Drinking more alcohol
Isn’t the best way to get over it, but I can think of nothing else,
So even when I acknowledge
That all my attempts have not even been half-assed,
But, like, one-quarter-assed
The only resolve I find is in distraction, in
******* my other ex-girlfriend instead
And not until that distant

When I’m ascending through Never Sink,
Does my head finally
Feel clear, yes,
In that glowing blue pit
Of bioluminescence,
I feel the whole world slow to a stop,
Embrace my body with its taproots
And whisper
Playfully and
In a child’s voice,
“You are the whole world” and I know that I
Am the whole world.
I breathe heavily, the only sound for miles around,
And for a moment I feel that the Puget Sound,
Along with everything else that is so ******,
Has fallen away.
For it is not my body
That is climbing on-rope through the stars and galaxies of this great sinkhole
But my mind,
But my soul,
Because Never Sink
Is not a landscape
But a mind-scape,
A soul-scape,
And it is one which is never dark
Thanks to the blue lights of soulful- (not bio-) luminescence—
A glow that is strong enough to see
A singularity
In the form of an unlocked lock,
Appearing with grace upon my driveway
After I return home
From ******* my other ex-girlfriend
For the last time.
It is only when I stop the car,
Open the door,
And hold that unlocked lock in my hand that I realize the extent to which
I am being
The ethereal being in Never Sink’s soul-scape,
Alone in the blue grace of the night,
With nothing in my breath.
The thought is terrifying.
So in

On the night of my eighteenth birthday,
The girl I’m hung over and I
Send magical, sparkling lanterns into the sky
With a wish so brilliantly bright and simultaneous
That even I am able dismiss the slurring drunk words spoken next to us—
“Here’s hopin’ that you two get married some day”
As superfluous.

.                Part Two               .

The winds above Lake Erie carry me,
Along with that lantern, into the foreignness
Which Never Sink foreshadowed.
But with the lantern as my very being
And the Puget Sound in my every breath,
Athens, Ohio does not become my soul-scape;
Even its gorgeous autumnal rolling hills
Are just land-scape, and I don’t know
Whether things would have been different
Had I not walked into that stranger’s party
For that terrible beer
On one of my first nights there, but regardless in

I walk up endless hills and stairs daily
To get around this hellhole where the only genuine people I’ve yet found
Were prepared to leave from day one, like I
Wasn’t. I wasn’t preparing for that at all, but the Puget Sound,
Lingers like phlegm in my lungs and distorts my regular refrain
Of “I can be happy here, I can be happy here,” keeping it
From ever loosing its hypothetical but eventually forcing it
To loose its conclusion:
I can be…
I can be…
I can be anything that I want to be and I am still here,
Sitting on the top terrace of this weird-assed biker bar with some girl
I just met, with some guy
Who seems cool, but in both cases
I drink one too many Blue Moon’s because I know
That neither of these people
Will ever loose their hypotheticals and will only ever
Loose their conclusions.
Gazing upwards towards the stars in the fading summer,
I try to ignore the physicality of all that’s around me,
But the alcohol churns in my stomach like violent waves, like in

How I rock like tides between the shores
Of two continents, of two
Acid trips.
One, on the floor of my dorm room, staring at my ceiling
In an attempt to make patterns
Out of patternless white paint, all the while holding hands
With that guy who seems cool, who has been dancing
In and out of hypothetical.
And the other acid trip with you,
Who somehow in the face of everything
Became one of my only certainties.
You, with whom I stood on Lake Erie
Howling into the wind in an unrealized epiphany.
An epiphany
That is now realized
Because the beers on that top terrace didn’t matter.
The white speckles on my dorm room ceiling during that first acid trip
Didn’t matter.
Hell, that girl I am in love with
Didn’t (doesn’t, can’t, won’t) matter.
What matters to me,
As I’m dressed in drag on Halloween,
Lying in your dorm room that smells of Indian food
With 120 dollars of drug money in my pocket,
Is what’s ultimately present. Right there.
Right here. But then, lying there, the time
Clicks over into

And at two in the morning it becomes
One in the morning.
I don’t know which of those hours wasn’t real
But when I hug you and cry in the soft light
It is a moment too brief.
It is a moment from which I am pulled straight
Into a hotel bed halfway to New York City,
Where I lie with that girl who I guess I’m in love with
And I’m kissing her, and I realize
That blue spirals still linger on my body, but when she groans,
So softly
That “we shouldn’t be doing this”
I pause before saying “I know,”
And in that pause, my pixelated, televised, and falsified image of reality
Briefly turns to fuzzy grey static, its finite infinity like the trance
Of meat on a rotisserie; I’m waiting
For this turkey to cook
In my friend’s mom’s home—funny
Because I’m still a vegetarian
Who sometimes likes to think of himself, in quest for definition,
As a vegan, but man
I’m beyond definition, I’m beyond anything,
I’m beyond even my darkest imaginings of myself, so when I get wasted
At a 2am that doesn’t click back on Thanksgiving morning,
I have a slice of that ******* turkey,
Cuz the vegan chili my friend and I made at school was good and all,
But I had to bike through freezing rain to get the peppers
And even though I’m starting to feel
Like I’ve found a few people who I can take in with permanence
Nothing feels more like permanence
Than this home-cooked meal
Of turkey and cranberries and sweet potatoes at a granite counter
Where, on January 1st when the ball dropped,
We all took shots, leaving me drunk, stumbling
And eventually
And of course in

I’m still
Hung over it all.
Part one, part two,
The futility of that division is so obvious now.
It’s the same poem, same sentence,
And when two not-so-new-anymore friends and I sit on a rooftop in Athens
With a bunch of still so-new I-guess-friends
Right before exam week,
Right before this emotionally excruciating semester comes to a close,
Right before I prepare to head home,
I realize that even though this place
Hasn’t quite become home yet,
My ‘home’ isn’t really at home now either.
I am without a bed in which I feel comfortable,
Without a body next to which my whole life makes sense,
And I am driving to go swing dancing—
An activity I can’t believe I’m still trying to like—
When I finally tell her that I’m in love with her:
Words that don’t matter despite
How much they do. Ultimately,
To me, to her, it’s just
A quick red-light phrase
And this poem is, without too many layers of resonance,
Not even addressed to her,
But to that girl with whom I stood on Lake Erie,
Howling into the wind,
Imagining part two but preparing
For part three, so
With that lantern still floating skyward, “here’s hopin’ that”
                                         (No. No. No. Start over.)
Here’s hoping that
At midnight
On this New Year’s Eve,
When the ball drops and when we all take shots,
Perhaps around that same granite counter-top,
These clocks
Won’t click back again.
These spirals
Will fade.
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