Issue #1: Poetry
I Am in Love with Air
On the flier for used textbooks and second-
or third-hand furniture taped to a classroom door,
someone has used their felt-tip pen
to print, in heavy black caps, FUCK IT ALL.
And I love that you can tell
by the way every line either starts
or ends with a dark blot, where the nib rested
just a moment before being pulled
through the clean architecture of its letter,
how this was constructed; like whoever was here,
late for an engineering class, or just leaving early
from a test he knew he failed,
drifted out the door in the cool moment of recognition
that perfectly blends epiphany and dread
into something entirely fresh that—and here’s where
the sadness comes in—is uncannily familiar.
Suddenly there was plenty of time to think this statement through,
and build it as he went.
I can respect the kind of focus and attention to craft
that would probably make this frustrated kid
a pretty solid engineer—not that I know the qualities
that make a solid engineer,
but I imagine good penmanship would be one of them.
A little dispatch—to everyone, to no one,
a bottle tossed into an ocean filled with doubt—
the perfect Dear John, with the whole world
unwittingly cast into the role of John.
So unlike the wild hand who felt the need
to answer this dark epistle
with a single strikethrough and, below that,
I AM IN LOVE WITH AIR
cursived in soft pencil and even flourished
with a long wisp from that last rounded R,
like a kite string or loose hair trailing on an invisible breeze
blowing across the untouched white fields of the page.
And I’d put money on it being the work
of one of the dozen art students
who’s passed by on his way to the café
to doze off a mid-week hangover before a class
he may or may not attend—he hasn’t decided yet
because, Man, he thinks, isn’t it more important
to be out there living, sleep when you’re dead,
carpe diem, and all that?
I am growing older. I am jealous.
I want to love air again and do some for-show-type shit:
carry beat-up paperbacks everywhere with me—
Whitman in one back pocket, Wilde in the other,
letting their words pat me on my scrawny ass.
And it wouldn’t matter which books they were, either,
they’d all say the same as far as I’m concerned:
adore everything, even the stuff you can’t see.
And what better way to trudge through this whole thing
than with a blushing smile and a face turned to the wind?
Her soft hands slapping one cheek then the other
as the scraps of all our screw-ups
blow away like petals down the street
and we say fuck it all
with the perfect calligraphy of a middle finger.
Matthew Burns is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Binghamton University where he is poetry editor for Harpur Palate. He has been nominated for the AWP Intro Journals Project and won an Academy of American Poets College Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, The Georgetown Review, Paddlefish, and Upstreet, among others.