By Anders Carlson-Wee
Featured Art: Burning Oil Well at Night, near Rouseville, Pennsylvania by James Hamilton
It don’t matter what you believe. All the Christians
know it’s comin, all the scientists know it’s comin.
Could be a chunk of the sun wipin out the grid j
ust as likely as the Lord Himself snuffin us out
one by one like a bunch of candle wicks.
Could be a oil shortage. Or the souls of the dead
come back to reckon. My buddy Critter figures
it’ll be the Lake of Fire––all the flesh dripping off
our dicks while we drown at the same time
over and over forever––like it says in the Bible.
But most folks won’t tell you what they believe.
My ma, she never broke silence on the issue.
My old man, he says I’m crazy. Says I’m gonna drink
myself to death before anything else gets the chance.
Me myself, I got my chips pushed in for somethin natural.
A meteor maybe. Or a polar flip. But like I said:
when you’re throwin pies, it don’t matter much what the flavor is.
It’s more folks thinkin like me than you’d think.
And like most of us, I got a bug-in plan for stayin put,
but I also got a bug-out plan for gettin gone.
Not that I’m gonna tell you where I’m goin.
It’s high in the mountains––I’ll say that much––
but that’s all the scat this cat’s gonna leave in the sand
for you to track by. Let me ask you somethin:
You think I’m crazy to have a hundred pounds of Spam
buried in caches? You think I’m crazy to have Critter
shoot me with a .22 so I know what it feels like
to get hit in a bulletproof vest? Well, you know what?
I hope I am crazy. I hope I’m the craziest son of a bitch
you ever met.
Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of The Low Passions (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, BuzzFeed, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other publications. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the winner of the 2017 Poetry International Prize. Anders is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. http://www.anderscarlsonwee.com
Originally published in Issue 19.