Brice Maiurro

The Canary Who Swallowed the Coal Mine

Everything is on fire and I want to sleep for at least two weeks!
(So drown me in Zquil and read to me from your Gideon’s Bible.

Read me something simple that tastes like reality.
Read me a story that is less Christian and more just inarguably true

because everything is on fire and I want to sleep for at least two weeks
maybe more
but I understand the shit green cloud of fiscal responsibility is hanging over my head
like a drunk woman pouring buckets of water out of her tenth story Brooklyn window.

When I say everything is on fire, I mean everything is on fire!
The couch cushions are on fire, the fruit stands on fire, and it never rains anymore.

All seven of the televisions inside of my skull are on fire.
The intravenous highways of the United States are on fire.
They IV drip down entitlement and god complexes, hero complexes.

My hero complex is on fire, my victim mentality is on fire, my love for strangers.
The cat is on fire and it’s still too afraid of the water to go in it.

(I am the cat in this scenario
and the water is a therapist
or any variety of activities that require coming to your senses)

but why would I go see a therapist
when I know the therapist is on fire?

Their fainting couch on fire, their perfectly framed doctorate on fire

and this is why I want to sleep.

The cross was set on fire by the pastors,
the oil slick ocean is still burning

The devil is on fire, he’s so fucking confused,
he’s just pacing and pacing in my head in your head
in most everyone’s heads which too are on fire

I find it hard to sleep to the sound of the eleven o clock news.
I find it close to impossible to rationalize an escape plan in a fun house.
I find myself easily a victim to sensory overload and I realize
that it’s maybe inescapable

we’ve built flashing lights into every dark alley,
always on camera, the flag is on fire, media on fire,
death is on fire, religion on fire,
the Buddhists are on Facebook again,
the streets are like a giant block party,
a giant pool party,
except with fire

and in the ocean of it all,
I feel something with you
and I worry that too is fleeting
or possibly completely imaginary
you tell me you’re allergic to dogs while I pant incessantly
while I shit on your carpet and you hit me with a rolled-up newspaper

but you let me lay beside you on the couch
and I dream
like that age we all once were where we were so good at it
where it was nothing much less than unlearned behavior
but now

the paintings are on fire.

I think about my childhood friend,
a Jackson Pollack painting, on fire,
I think about her alcoholic paint drizzle,
the way she’d just spontaneously combust
like a Kerouac star,
(none of this is aggrandizement.)

I remember the way she’d piece back together
I think about how part of why I left her
is she wore that t-shirt on the outside
that I kept swallowed.

I’m good at swallowing things
even when they’re on fire.

I swallow jazz records,
I swallow momentary relapses of judgement, insanity pleas.

I swallow the attention of strangers who don’t love me they love the poet
they love me in two dimensions, on fire,
in slick acrylic bursts of orange red and yellow

and I love them the same way sometimes but I worry
and sit by a fireplace while inside of a fireplace
and that fireplace is a brick city where tourists live
and somehow overnight I became the unfamiliar one
in the city that I love.

The newer transplants tell me the good spots to grab a coffee,
where the WiFi is tasty and well-seasoned,
they tell me how terrible the drivers are, they can’t see I’m on fire

and that’s okay because I can’t see them
I can’t see anything but this delicate egg shell heart
floating up to the sky

as I drift into two week sleep
as I drift into complacency
as I don’t save the world
as I don’t wait to pull my queen out
as I move my bishop erratically
across the black and white spaces

and maybe I ascend.

Maybe I am this and maybe that is okay.

Maybe it’s okay to be the one who feels,
no more significant than anyone else,
a prophet of emotion,

the canary who swallowed the coal mine.

Maybe it’s okay and maybe the fire is too.


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