This poem was nominated for The Best of the Net.
Hello doctor, I’m having bad thoughts. I want to call you on the phone and tell you about bleach and corn and suffering. I want you to tell me what to do, but don’t make me do it. Here is the problem: What if we don’t like each other tomorrow. What if we drive each other to the edge of the teapot. What if you want to have butter and I want to have peace. I want safety and selfishness and I cannot have them both. Walk me to the park and put your mouth on my belly. I am scared to see your body. Are you a bad person. Tell me you love me, or tell me you don’t. There is no maybe. I do not work in the inbetween. Everyday feels like a Tuesday night and I put you on mute so I can get some work done. I’m writing you a poem called stick me in the trunk and drive me around and talk to me. I call you a beastie and we both know it is true. You cannot go without the sunshine of other people. I cannot go near your skin. The cons of dating a musician are that one day you will break up, and the pros are nothing there are no pros. Your new boyfriend will order your old boyfriend’s record in the mail, so you can hear your heart snap on vinyl. The old boyfriend will refuse to send it, and can you blame him. He gets engaged to someone who is not you. After all that. He pulled the tap made your hands warm and asked someone else. He is not the first man you loved to marry someone else. (Colin Firth). He will not be the last. You miss the kindness and the patience of a Christian man. // Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Is it me. The new boyfriend goes to Austria, Ukraine, LA, New York, Costa Rica, whatever he wants and I wait. I have been waiting bad since September. I let you into my house. I put my feet on your chair. I am a fool. I write a note to self. Do mosquitos have a home. Tampons are vagina mice. Feral cats and nude bathers. Mmmbop hanson brother non-alcoholic beer commercial. I have a list of baby names of my phone for each man I fall in love with. (Almost). I do not want baby. I promise I will fall in love with you, and you tell me not to promise. This is not a good sign. This reminds me of another mistake I made. I am too old to be hurting myself. I know better. You should see my mangled fish hands, you tell me. I am god’s gift to fish and women. I believe you. Am I the type of woman. Will I end up with nothing in my hands. Will I end up mangled. I swore off boys who fight fires and play rugby and live in the town you live in. I swore off boys who don’t want me the way I want to be wanted. I promised myself I would never ever kiss you, never ever let you win. When I drove under a train, I closed my eyes and wished that you would be good to me, good for me, good. Please be good. // You have already been lying and I was already wrong. You call yourself a coward. I don’t call you anything. I don’t call you anymore. What else is there to say. Something fractures between us, something like trust. You sleep with all the people whose hands you can reach across a carpet, who have Egyptian feet, who make the mistake of believing, who make the mistake of being twenty-one. Radical transparency, or so I heard. Radical honesty, someone said. I am not angry about ethics or morality, this is not a test. I keep hurting the people I care about, you say. You hurt me. You have loved inside the family. You love someone else. Everything else is nothing. Everything else is noise.
KARI TEICHER writes fiction, poetry, and complains. She has her MFA at the University of Victoria and Herba at the University of King’s College. She was a finalist in the Fiddlehead’s Fiction Contest 2020, Room Magazine’s Poetry Contest 2019, longlisted for the CBC Short Story prize 2018, longlisted for CV2’s Young Buck Poetry Prize 2018, winner of Saltern Magazine’s Short Forms Contest 2017. Her work has been published with Prism International, Event Magazine, The Puritan, Room Magazine, Canthius, and others. Kari lives in Toronto with her kitten named Chicken, and works in communications and production. She is at work on her debut novel about Snag, Yukon.