2 a.m. on 94-South

Sometimes the shadows of lamp lights

look like roadside bodies, splayed

and every car is a cop car. 

I’m not an alarmist,

but, granted,

I am more alert than most. 

I knew the minute I stopped loving you. 

I have thought of leaving

more than I can count

on fingers and toes. 

But where do I go?

I have done this so many times, I 

am tired tired tired

of the rebuilding. 

In regards to building:

looking back

making this life may have been a mistake. 

I don’t believe in regrets but here you are. 

Never thought I’d 

wear this shirt again,

it’s on her in the last photo we took together,

she bought it that summer

she said

she’d walk into traffic 

if I left. 

Since then I am always the one leaving. 

I wanted you to be new. 


guessing game

I guess I’m done asking myself

the why’s around

why this grew up to be

a house of silence

screaming death rattles

shocked admonishments 

and the occasional 

spilled wine glass. 

If you don’t know by now

that’s part of the reason


All the things I think you think we think

are buried under the couch cushions

with the lost change and 

backs of earrings I told myself

“someday I’ll fish those out,”

“it’s not too late to start again,”

“I can’t undo what we–”

but what?

I would rather have you to hate than not. 

I would rather be the one with the noose in the corner,

next to the ferns and family photos. 

I wonder if I’m just staying until I can say

it’s all your fault,

walk away with Billy The Kid explosions

burning hot into the back of my freshly ironed shirts. 

I don’t leave because I’m not the bad guy. 

I can’t work on being good to you anymore. 

I won’t act like you’re okay. 

I guess I don’t know how to learn to live this lie. 

What Remains

I want to know

if you kiss your God with that 

tongue, if you

remembered all the things you tried

to forget about yourself

as a teenage mania. 

Why don’t you call?

Not that I care, I am curious

like a 

you think I will say cat,

but the end of that rhyme is 

“satisfaction brought it back,”

and I am still hungry. 

I never act out if hunger,

I don’t even eat. 

I starve myself of you. 

What was the last thing you wished for

when you walked home alone at night?

How little time can I take,

how much will you gift to me without

asking for a thank you card? 

Miss Manners. 

I miss your mannerisms. The last thing

I wished for was

to be alone

and now I am here with you. 

animals, we

Thank you for the freedom to air out

the stench in every room

you slept in, unwanted. 

Thank you for the lesson that

some fears are founded; I can count

on one hand the number of friends you have

who have not deemed you dead already, so

I choose to be more selective

with my secrets. 

Thank you for the cautionary tale of

why we never invest in sounds outside our window

because boys will leave you broken

and broke

and borrow something new. 

I never met a lie of yours I didn’t like. 

I never met a facade you built that wasn’t cellophane. 

I never saw a house you could honestly say wasn’t already on fire. 

My eyes are open,

and everyone sees what you grew into. 

Is this how you imagined your life? 

Elemental acid like a lab safety poster,

detailing the agonies you become when


to air? 

I have no hope for you, no love lost, no gold lockets, no high school locker photo collages,

you are a PR dream of illusory promises in print, 

you are an agent’s nightmare of inability to even fake talent. 

and animals, we

smell fear. we

wait in grass that you

sowed the seeds of. 

no threat, just nature,

just what you nurtured,

four fingers pointing back at your tomb when one is raised in defense. 

I am no longer an angry animal. 

I am the ground that swallows corpses. 

I am floral and fauna feasted. 

I see everything. 


you tell me you’re wearing your

favorite pair

of underwear

i am not

you keep asking every night

if this is the favorite pair

i say no

when are you going to wear your favorite 

for me, you ask

i can pinpoint my 

second favorite but

never the best

maybe you should know

i haven’t found the best yet


this is a dark house

with the porch light on

and a Neil Diamond cover band playing

on hell’s main stage,

powder blue jumpsuits with some

deeper meaning affixed to 

the mistakes you made 

with your son

in the next room, listening

like your hand is pulling on his shirt collar. 

ask yourself why you’re here. 

ask yourself who gave you 

your father’s hands

in a glass box

on a shelf. 

he deserves better than this,

should be having twice the nightmares,

can’t stop drinking at this point

what’s the point

can’t give a fuck

can’t answer the question of 

if you even want to live

knock once for yes, if you yell it means

virtually the same. 

no response is the 


to worry about. 
(Inspired by s2e3 of True Detective)

Death Will Erase Me (a happy poem)

i wonder

if when you

stare into that abyss, the

abyss stares back at you, or

you are in your own little bubble, i

am in my own little bubble

in the ocean, down

500,000 ft

towards the floor,

but we are also the ocean, in addition

to being the bubble

knowing someday the bubble will pop and

rejoin the ocean

so smooth and continuous

i can feel the water’s chill, here

in my bubble.

it makes me feel

not so alone.

like i am returning

to myself someday.

(A Stroke of Genius): J. Varisco, 7/1/2015

The waves are really swirling into each other

(I set off smoke alarms)

It makes me feel like someone’s going to jump out

(The story opens or closes with a saxophonist on a night pier)

The Universe is in Franklin Roosevelt’s eye

(I think I would like to work where I can smell flowers)

Fuck that, who cares what they think?

(I drove in silence cause I’m sad sad sad)


Do you mind if I smoke another?

(Inside I equal Orion’s Belt, outside I am a skin suit)

We are the Universe’s contemplation

(I am resilient, I am sound, I broke like a wave and swelled with pride)


And my dad is not a big drinker

(Focusing on the present, where I focus on manifesting the future)

I sent the wrong text to the wrong people at the wrong time

(Your laugh is the doorbell to the house of a god I once knew)

It’s a constant exchange of energy

(And I get less frightened the more I know in my gut)

Are you sure you’re okay with being an accessory to crime?

(Infinity is a feeling you get when it makes more sense than not)

That’s a more concise way of putting it, thank you

(I am on your corner, a car crash echoes in my nerve endings)

We are all made of stars

(These are my favorite nights to be alive, whatever that means)