Open Mic at Tony’s Bar and Grill

By Tracey Knapp

There’s a man with the rope of a cowbell curled
around his Captain Morgan. He whispers his poems
from a stack of papers, sees your own and nods,
buys you a drink. No conversation needed.
Another person adjusts their blonde wig and quietly
sings Mi mi mi mi meeeee repetitively. You wonder
what song they’ll actually sing—their wig slightly off tilt.
A man cradles his ukulele like a baby. Everyone stares
into their drinks, performing their rehearsal, rubs
the dark worn wood of the bar. You doodle stars
on your pages. Half the people here will only show up
once. No one will tip, and they’ll leave their empty glasses
on the sticky tables, their printouts of songs and poems
on the floor. You were the first to arrive, not thinking
to stop home and put on something more formal
than yoga pants. It doesn’t matter. There is some
common urge to perform whatever thought you have,
to share with these strangers. It’s Sunday night
and raining. Why sit alone silently on your faulty couch
with the endless drone of 60 Minutes on the television,
the single-serving life of pasta and tomato sauce, the rain
driving the ants into your kitchen? Someone taps
the microphone, says HELLO, HELLO. The wig rises
to the stage, sings “I Fall to Pieces” unconvincingly.


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A Working List

By Tracey Knapp

  1. Tell your online boyfriend your real age.
  2. Sweep the seeds and leaves from the porch. The winds were harsh last week.
  3. Practice sneezing more quietly. Stop the throat-scratch hacking. Who
    could sleep next to that?
  4. Why are you still single? Ask your friends. They know everything about
    your failures.
  5. Dump your shitty friends who can detail your failures verbatim back to you.
  6. Do the dishes. Remove your socks from the bed sheets.
  7. Bobby pins are not Q-Tips. Baby wipes are not bathtubs.
  8. Commit to eating like a person. With other people. Stop wasting your
    money on wine and prepackaged food at the 7-Eleven.
  9. Spend more time talking to yourself outdoors at night when stoned.
  10. Stop drinking wine. Stop drinking. But only when alone. Except if you
    were drinking with people beforehand, and you came home to your dog.
  11. Watch less TV. Except, re-watch the movie Frances Ha. You are a dancer,
    and you have dreams.
  12. All those goddamn books you buy and barely open.
  13. Make the world more beautiful! Take one earring, preferably dangled and
    missing its mate. Hang it from an old nail or forgotten hook. A quiet,
    lucky place.
  14. Quit losing earrings. Quit earrings. Quit things.
  15. Put your old jeans in a box and then the attic. And someday when you
    move into a new bright house with a new love, you’ll pull them out, thin
    and mothy, you’ll delight: I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! THEY ALMOST FIT!
  16. Grow things. Give away things. Give away your neighbor’s excessive
    lemons. Your tight jeans.
  17. Recycle more. Stop hoarding the little gifts that someone gives you when
    they kind of liked you because they barely knew you. The broken ceramic
    rabbit isn’t even emblematic.
  18. Appreciate your one good knee, your moisturized cuticles, and the hair
    that grew back on your head after you got rid of that fucking IUD.
  19. Reach into that folder of old letters pull out the one with the nicest paper.
    Don’t read it. Just touch it and let it be the cramp in the gut of all the
    people who used to love you by hand.
  20. Celebrate your old-man dog. In the following order, give him: a walk, a
    scratch, a bath, a treat, a nap, a brush, a walk, a treat, a nap.
  21. Write down a list of what you could do to be your best.
  22. Narrow it down to ten.

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Entropy

by Tracey Knapp

Featured Art: Life by Simona Aizicovici

 

All those times I crossed the bridge to see you

and not one lap dance. We haven’t held hands

since that time in the rain forest, chanting Lord

knows what in Sanskrit. I saw my first wild boar there but

even he took off for the brush. Someone always ends the

moment. Another call dropped on your iPhone,

the cosmic forces at work. My dog sighs and stares

at my flip-flop from his pillow. At work, the office is

separated into orderly earth-toned cubes. Read More

Entropy

by Tracey Knapp

Featured image: Félix Vallotton. Five O’Clock, Intimacies VII (Cinq Heures, Intimités VII), 1898. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

All those times I crossed the bridge to see you
and not one lap dance. We haven’t held hands
since that time in the rain forest, chanting Lord
knows what in Sanskrit. I saw my first wild boar there
but even he took off for the brush. Someone always ends
the moment. Another call dropped on your iPhone,
the cosmic forces at work. My dog sighs and stares
at my flip-flop from his pillow. At work, the office
is separated into orderly earth-toned cubes.

Read More