The Maynard
Spring 2016

Christopher Evans

I Saw the Best Minds of My Generation Roll Over and Go Back to Sleep

And then finally that doubt,
that persistent silverfish you’ve managed
to distance yourself from for the better part
of a decade by trapping it under an overturned
water glass on the linoleum behind the fridge, escapes
burrows its way into the back of your skull
while you doze on the couch and you awaken
with the creeping realization that there is
now a fairly good chance you will not own
a small house on the lakeshore, surrounded
by apricot trees strung through with Christmas lights
where your friends gather to smoke pipes and fish
the women all twirl around in the meadow out back
like Leslie Feist in their peasant skirts, unencumbered
by rules about undergarments and your children
learn how to use their whole hands, not just their thumbs
together building a long table out of an abandoned door,
everyone jockeying to avoid the middle left
where the knob remains, at last having a home
for that box of old VHS tapes you’ve been storing
in your parents’ basement, kept so you can watch them
on nights when it’s drizzly, drinking rich brown drinks
out of garage-sale mugs, the guitar lessons you took
when you were twelve abruptly kicking in, your beard
thickened and ashtray pallor ruddied by unfiltered rays,
using your erection to splinter stumps into kindling
for the fireplace, embracing all the instincts
the city has tried to pave over, endless love
made on the porch, your comingled bodies splashed
with moonblood and it dawns on you
that you might not own
anything, ever

And you say, staring into your own pitted eyes
in the tilted mirror
above the bathroom sink,
and you say,
you say
Fuck it

And so you throw caution out
the window one last time, it shatters
into a million pieces on Ash Street, your dull
neighbours walk through the shards and cut
their feet, saying What is this?
you leaning out the window
shouting That’s caution, you assholes,
now get back to work and they do and you walk
to the bridge, but instead of tossing yourself
down to the kayakers and cormorants,
instead you go downtown
wade through crowds of youthful cynics
moneyed strangers, their eyes
brimming with malintent and you drift
into unknown establishments, looking for
a time machine or a sympathetic face to smash
yours into, wanting so perilously to feel
enriched, but the breathtaking noise
of the city turns to bad wisdom
so quickly that you barely have time left
to get shitfaced and you wish the buildings
would all rupture like bad hearts,
so you could maybe get a glimpse
of the moon or else the sea could finally
fulfill its destiny and rise up, washing
you and the rest of the urban wastlings
into the Strait, left clinging to garbage,
face tilted upwards in the hope of seeing
a bird that isn’t a crow

And once you’ve ingested all you can,
your grotesque pleas and propositions
ignored, you push your way through
the claws and signage, staggering
into the woods where you stumble prostrate,
lips brushing lichens and marl, you command
the trees to Just take me, Goddamnnit
understanding too late that they’re only
rhododendrons and ornamental maples meticulously
planted by calloused hands and that this false nature
doesn’t want anything to do with you, anyway

And suddenly it’s Saturday morning
with only two cigarettes left, your experiment
in reclamation a disaster, you receding
across the bridge and up the stairs, the silverfish
welcoming you home with multiple open arms,
scuttling you back to the couch with your boots on,
while it’s tucking you in, you laugh
at yourself, your futile frailty,
you just itching to repeat
all your own grand mistakes
all over again.