and also, maybe, tofu, in that he can’t understand why anyone likes them, though he comprehends the (theoretical) appeal of Donald Trump. They’re not just rubes, he says, of Trump fans. He only believes in American art forms. TV. Comic books. Stand-up comedy: why should we mess with this inherited crap, he ventures. Earlier, he read his daughter to sleep, his voice softening the humid night. I listened from the living room, his muffled words like shells suggesting soft underwater animals. “Boyfriend” is a placeholder and a poor one at best. Poetry mutates. Like an octopus, desire, like weather, I tell him, after he closes his daughter’s door and straddles me on the couch. See, this is a prose poem. See, I’ve crossed out the lonely vaunting lit-up way you kiss, yet let the mistakes show through. Something I hate doing. He remains unconvinced. He drinks soda, vapes, lists the best Randy Newman songs of the last decade. Dirty dishes in the sink, unmade bed, briefcase dropped by the doormat: the barriers are obvious. I want to pick the locks, leap the hurdles, power-wash his shithole apartment. But I like tofu. And poetry. And, though I’ve never seen a stock-car race, I can vaguely understand why someone would watch a pattern break into flames.


Amie Whittemore