I Imagine My Father Asking Me What Being ________ Is Like, While I Swipe My American Express to Pay for His Lungs’ Virus I Don’t Know How to Pronounce


It’s like jammed with creases.
I can’t straighten myself like Uniqlo jeans.
My head spinning like an agitator.
I guess my point being, in comparison,
you’re an ironing board.
Because my _____-ness is unspoken
like my salary, we should talk
about something else, though I wish
to tell you that some nights,
in retrospect, were too limbic, yet sublime.
I think _____ thoughts, play
_____ chess, make _____ calls.
Don’t expect answers straight
like your Saturday plans. Let’s not talk
about convalescence, either.
“What’re anagrams?” you ask.
Up bored means be proud, I say.
“I’m both.” You’re not—I’m a removed
tooth that lacks tradition. I knew
it when your pride folded, crusted
like the mouth of a needy tap,
when you first smelt my ______-ness.
Now, you load your stippled lungs
with the smell and still-bare breaths.
I imagine you asking me why I read
Sartre. Because Sartre can’t reset
us, and between us, there’s no thrill
but a tradition that tells me to truckle
in wretchedness, remain beside you
like a receipt, because recovery is ultimately
a swabbing of capitalism’s rear end.
“You aren’t like me,” you say.
True: my shadow ruffles
on your burdock-reeking torso,
and my lungs aren’t the ones shadowed,
computed, invoiced, item
by item, then saved and paid
for, then turned into redeemable
mileage, mane, and deer fences
that I’d pretend feel exotic
in numerous selfies to rid the thin
rind of filial debts in my skin,
though I wish I could stop wishing
someone, years later, saying True,
when I say what you said, so I won’t be left
to feel the being and nothingness
of being ______.