Panic Scenes in a Green Room

Lately my nights are gripped by research
on Christine Chubbuck’s suicide, hers the type
of public spectacle that pits a noxious smell
in the stomach, which I find to be a far-out,
wholly alien emotion responding to the difficulty
of a strange death. Freshly attuned to my own
depressive valleys, I’ve decided that should I ever
come to this (the gray tunnel with no exit light, no door)
I would finish myself in some forested grave,
send notice by way of time-slated emails
complete with detailed coordinates. I’d
ask somewhat pedantically that folks keep
themselves well, that they keep this quiet,
that they keep in mind that my intention
was to keep them from this, that they
have only me to blame for my death.
The loss of a life should be no pageant,
no extravaganza, I would proclaim, if life is
itself the true celebration. My juvenile awe
toward the mere fact of existence would
likely have vacated by this point, and I
would encourage my survivors to keep
theirs intact. Of course, I would encourage them
to write, to write freely and openly
about themselves and the others around them,
to persevere, to explore their deepest pools
of being, to birth them into this white light,
the ascetic maternity ward of the page, and
I’d implore them to write about their worlds:
the cold streams sweeping briskly through
brown woods; those sparrows fighting a wind;
all the green and yellow a person can breathe
from the top of a hill; and of course the punctured,
moonlit sky, into which even I have dreamed. I love you,
I would write, but I’m turning to my vices and
my heart is closing like a fist. Be calm, I would
tell them, for while I am candidly deceased, a body
of cells already decomposing as you are reading this,
my resting state is spring, yes, my
death nothing more than a sleep.

While Reading the Wikipedia Page on Pleiades

There’s something screeching outside my window,
a train braking sharp on some tracks or—
I don’t know.
It’s gone now.
I do know that in the east,
moments before the earth clocks to meet the sun,
the sky assumes a state
of orange ataraxy, one
in which a person sometimes dreams
herself asleep, and if not for timeless spinning
of the planet on its axis,
in this galaxy always leaning
toward a fruit-type rot date,
a person could forget
she ever lived on earth at all.

This is sheer hypothesis, I know, dependent largely
on impossible variables
so far removed from the basis of reality
that the suggestion feels meaningless
and ineffective and impure.
But if you’d imagine for a second
a young couple still believing
in divinity
on a dewy, aluminum pier
with the river unraveled as far as vision goes
and a tangerine egg half
rising out of the ashes of night
or, rather, into it,
and if you’d just go ahead
and sit behind them for an hour,
let them tongue and speak
of the differences between this day
and the last one…
no, you wouldn’t understand.

Once, after high school, I asked my little sister
if she thought I had changed. I felt much different
but knew even at this point
that if the inward would ever manifest itself
on the outward, it would unlikely be instantaneous.
You’re the same, she said,
only now you seem to understand more.
Of course the opposite was true.

The Crisis of Infinite Dirt

In a terrace, in a cordoned garden plaza,
oak trees grew at twice the expected rate, lived
one-third as long as usual. Was it the sky? A case
of precipitation blessing with breakneck time?
On Tuesday a mother pulled her girl to her breast
on a lacquered wooden bench and told her
vaguely that Natives cast a sacrificial spell
in the air for good harvest some many moons ago.
Oh, she thought. Oh, the girl thought again, and the wind
swept through the branches nodding somnolently.
At this point the mother flinched her eyes to the girl
in search of chasms widening. The two wrens keeping watch
from their perch in the tree                         noted only
the husky, predatorial shapes below. And the girl—
our girl? Well by then she’d long been dreaming.


Joe Antoshak is writing somewhere between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. You can find him on Twitter (@mantoshak) or his website (