Quick Reminder: We’re Dying

by Inez Mateosky


My sister taught me how to frown
and push muscles down till I looked
like a muppet. It takes more muscles
than smiling but wasting energy
is part of the American dream

A dream where you rent until you can owe
a mortgage. The place in Tifton got a power
outage. The trees were stretching out
to reach the sun, but they grew too close
to the power lines, like Icarus except humans
play god-- they got cut down to bare branches,
close to its trunk and I avoid counting the rings
in each branch as I wonder how it can breathe
without any leaves, all things must end,
even the inescapable cycles.

The identifying feature of humanity can’t
be picking pictures to teach robots
how to read street cameras and taking selfies
teach them to pick our faces from a lineup
but I just want to watch New Girl before
it leaves Netflix so I answer the troll’s riddles
and filled in whatever gaps of knowledge
they need to act like us. They talk like us,
steal art like us. Will they face death like us?

What isn’t recycled is forgotten ‘til it disintegrates
or festers like a cheap wine that collects flies,
and a film of mold or mildew or voodoo.
Don’t you love buying your own destruction?

My sister taught me how to flare my nostrils
like a dragon breathing fire. We can destroy villages
together. It’s in our nature. We don’t want to climb
corporate ladders or build nuclear families. We can’t dream
like children. What isn’t recycled is incinerated.


back to University & College Poetry Prizes