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Whatever's Clever

Watching Paris, Texas for the First Time on a Laptop / Self Portrait in Smoke

from My Life's Work by Ben Seretan

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I would like to drive around in an older model Jeep with the spare wheel on the back and the cover for it has a bright yellow smiley face on it, maybe there's a fun license plate holder.
I'd like to look ridiculous.
I'd like to drive that car to the beach or help a friend move an oddly shaped piece of furniture, they'd try to strap it in with the seatbelt and we'd laugh, they'd be holding on to the thing for dear life as we made left turns at intersections.
I'd like the oily carnage of an entire baked chicken, the garlic, lemon sliced, barehanded mess of it.
I'd like to go dancing and go wild, right now, in the middle of the afternoon, somewhere cool and dark and dreamy, in other words in a totally different zone than where I'm at currently.
I'd like to be having lunch at my Grandma's house like we used to do on the weekends, French fountain wallpaper, lime green trim, the smell of ocean breeze and sweet mold in the living room.
I'd like to lay in the sun in one of those pool chairs that have the many little strips of plastic going across, the soft rounded plastic that leaves lines on your legs. One of those chairs maybe with palm trees on it on a big grass lawn somewhere, maybe it's grown a little too long, and I'd like to feel like I myself am a little patch of grass that's just drinking up the sun, growing longer and greener. And maybe there's a battery powered radio playing oldies quietly, no low end, easy to ignore.
I'd like to fall asleep like that, in the middle of a fantasy novel. I know this will concern some but
I'd like to be lightly sunburned, too, and to for days later feel the echo of the sun on my skin, the warmth of it around my shirt's collar.
I want to feel like I laid with the sun like a lover and to remember its utter heat in a small private moment - it was shining only for me, the burn warm breath on my neck.
I'd like for someone to pay attention to my ankles, my lower back, say something about how strong my thighs and ass have gotten lately.
I want to swim in an icy river, to wade in and fall ungracefully into it.
I want to, like that time in Virginia, eat whole quarters of a watermelon perched on a rock (it was your birthday 6 years ago, remember?).
I'd like the bitter bright squirting crunch of a pomegranate seed, to chew the pulp in my teeth.
I'd like to keep writing.
I'd like to sit on a covered porch during a hot, thick thunderstorm, idly playing a busted guitar and maybe leaning back in a chair so it's up on two legs, my bare feet up on a wrought iron railing (this feels like Chicago, to me).
I'd like for the things I desire to be free of previous experience, I want new wants, I want the satisfaction of these urges to be novel, to be unfamiliar, to be lightly terrifying.
I'd like for my lived experience moment to moment to be the continual manifestation and satisfaction of desires of all types.
I'd like for someone to look at me the way I want to be looked at.
I'd like to be gently shrouded in the body warmth and trusting breath of someone sleeping in my bed.
I'd like to be too excited to sleep, just full of smiles and optimism, to float through the unslept next day smiling privately to myself over coffee, not telling anybody about it, letting the nice memory of it stay not-a-story as long as it can be withheld.
I'd like to hear from certain folks, other folks I'd rather not hear from anymore, and I want there to be new, unimagined folks I hear from.
I'd like to put up long, generous shelves in my tiny room, get all of the things that are stashed away or in boxes out into the open, to frame all the art and old photos and show flyers I've held on to.
I don't want to be free of desire - - I want to lean into it as if a tropical wind, to let the power of it hold me up from falling.


from My Life's Work, released August 30, 2018


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Ben Seretan Troy, New York


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