Trey Conatser


Suddenly everyone was speaking
poetry, or something vaguely
like it. Wheel harvest if blank

I said to my wife, thinking how
did you sleep? Spinning around
eye face she balked, thinking

what the hell are you talking
about? We stared at our
reflections in the bathroom

mirror, rabid toothpaste mouths
dripping into his-and-her
sinks. The morning news

was a total disaster. A well
dressed man and well dressed
woman, makeup caked faces

sharpened straight through
the screen, took turns clucking
chipper nonsense with nonsense

captions adorning graphics. Lie
glottal sex throes chirped the perky
blonde under If books wing

therefore and a question
mark inside the shape of a human
brain. They couldn't tell us about

the aphasia, and we were none
the wiser, doubting more
and more even what we meant

to say, our mouths still tingling.



                      It was pure
compulsion. Regardless

of weather, from Barrow
to Miami, we took

to the streets in Mardi
Gras madness. The problem

was that everyone was out
ding dong ditching everyone

else, the bells chiming
hollow in empty homes,

a somber rapture, like a painting
hung on egg white

drywall, or an outburst
of laughter alone in a room.





I first became familiar with the concept of aphasia because it was a character's name in a Terry Brooks fantasy novel that I read as a child, a sort of evil spider giant who killed people and didn't ever speak. It wasn't the killing part or the spider giant part, but rather the absence of language, of sense, that made the character frightening. At that same age, ding dong ditching made some of my friends feel alive like skydiving does for adults, though toilet papering houses was the preferred mischief. I like to think that our trite moments are more uncanny than we give them credit for.