Jessica Van de Kemp (BA, B.Ed, MA) is the author of Spirit Light (The Steel Chisel, 2015). Her poem, “Slant of the Girl,” was shortlisted for the 2015 Montreal International Poetry Prize. The recipient of a BlackBerry Graduate Scholarship and the winner of two TA Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Jessica is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Waterloo. Jessica was published in previous issues of In Parentheses.
I have a lot of shit to do, I say, so you can shape up or ship out. The future is right now. Don’t look to the sky for help. Don’t look down. You ought to try flying. Try a deadstick landing. It’s the best feeling you’ll ever have. It puts your whole life in perspective. There’s not much I wouldn’t do to stay alive, you say, on account of failed attempts at dying. We mean literally nothing but a sneeze in an elbow. It’s all in our heads. Everything worth experiencing. A serious person would shit themselves. We’re about as serious as frozen dinners. We fly right up to the sun and tell it to fry us. Then, we crash ourselves softly to the ground.
I hurt on the inside, I say, somewhere deep down. You wonder if it’s the back of my brain that hurts. Try tapping a stress point. See if that works. Don’t share your happiness. Don’t be happy. No one who’s in pain can feel anything else. Don’t you think we’d snap out of it if we could? We’re down there, somewhere deep inside, killing everything in the dark. It’s ourselves we kill. Why don’t you call 911. What will you say into the phone? Yes, hello, I’m dying, I’ve died, I’m dead. I’m about as alive as a glow stick. Shake me for awhile. I’ll light up like a kid on sugar. I’ll temporarily power the whole city in my rage.