What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…

Behind My Eyes


Cigarette symphony, soft parking lot party sounds like the suckling of smoke-adled babes, rattled by racking coughs, lungs roughed up like barking trees. Leave the volume down please, you clown, and keep the heavy rhythm to yourself. Or I swear, by all that is dear, I’ll release my weary worldview like a fog, like half-dead squirrels limping out over the mountain valleys, like old dogs tricking new teachers, filching bones from their pockets to lick under the porch, whittle to a point, then pick our locks at daybreak to steal all of our bacon—thank heavens I don’t eat meat, or even keep it in the house…but what about the beats bleeding over the lip, leaking out of the broken bowl of my mouth, is cat magic the only static that sounds like the most furious, furriest feet, reaching into the dryer I hear the plaintive sound of an unsleeping sigh, sorry for keeping you up a bit, but I don’t have any other time to wash clothes—suppose you just pretend to be on an airplane, or better yet a bus in Ukraine, better than a dorm room there the day after finals—and beside I live near the street now, and meet the scent of skunk every time I pass your door, so we all sacrifice for this low-rent life we have here, steering through the empty streets at 1 am, to seek a small payout I’m certain will be even smaller than I thought when I typed “small” and second ago, but it’s okay because I’m in love with a girl, enough to brave a thousand angry faces—because people are (understandably but) randomly mean at hospitals—and a thousand less-than-restful nights now to invest in a future together soon where the Western world does not start it’s day as I am ending mine, where night is a time for family more than work, where I am sure the bright morning light will be a welcome sign for waking and not a hindrance to slumber, to be blocked out like a noisy neighbor lumbering past the window, knocking loudly though he can see I’m trying to sleep, and let me say, again, that I’m sorry for the late night laundry, but every other evening for the next week, I’ll be dealing sensitively with people at their lowest points, raw and often defensive, unable to comprehend or even sense that this place is more than a unique and special canvas on which to drop and spill their unique and special pain, that it is not entirely personal or even private, that I have seen so much of this so many times before in so short a span, and I only want their safety, first, I leave their health in better hands, and sir, you can say what you want to me, but please do as I say when I tell you that cigarettes are not allowed on hospital grounds, that it’s not just policy, it’s law, and believe me when I say that all of this will pass, one way or another, but for now, I’m still tired, my mother’s calling me, leaving a message, and I can see, through closed lids, that it’s nearly time to wake up and start a new day, or night, I guess, all over again.
I find I’m on your street, dear, and you’re always on my mind…

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What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…

About Andrew.

Andrew Cartwright grew up in Indianapolis, IN, but has lived over the years in such places as Denver, CO; Fairfax, VA; and Rivne, Ukraine. He is a former nonfiction editor for both Indiana Review and phoebe; he has also worked for the intersectional feminist journal, So To Speak, and the national literary magazine, Electric Literature. His work has appeared in The Normal School Online, Copper Nickel, Esquire Ukraine, Literary Hub, and Word Riot.

For more information about me and links to other writing, visit my author page at cartwriter.com