Letters to Marshall From Eger

A Poem by Arlo Voorhees

It’s a world of sacrifice, ain’t it buddy? Of course you knew that when you hung up
your traveling sneakers and shelved your wild notebooks in favor of mortgage
payments, carpools, and ultrasounds. I’ve been a liar all my life, so these things
come late like poems, or boyish epiphanies, or wedding gifts from psychopathic
single men.

I’ve been drunk in the Hungarian hills, and last night I dreamed of flying and
saving people. Imagine me helping somebody else. Yesterday at dinner, after
plucking a moth from my soup, I crushed it accidentally with my beer bottle.
Everybody there heard its tiny bones crunch. It left a pale yellow stain on the
tablecloth. That fucking moth is all I remember.

Waking in the morning, I am sure I must have—in a terrible instant of
clarity—emptied an ashtray into my throat. I am probably not crazy, is what I’m
saying out loud. Anybody can see me sip my coffee, scramble eggs, browse the
corridors of ancient churches and look emphatically at the stars until I feel
betrayed. What would somebody else have done?

Lately I believe we have our own little Gods who are charged with instilling irony
into our lives. They chuckle above us like critics from the Muppet show. Take my
flying superhero dream. After my final life-saving swoop, I wake next to a beautiful
woman and with vague ideas about tenderness. The truth is I am probably having
the time of my life, though I’m not sure what that means.

It’s a sacrificial sunny day, and I tell you if I had a soul, it would be rattling inside
me like a Wiffle ball caught in a lawnmower. Everything surrenders in front of me.
Yesterday, before I killed that moth at dinner, I studied a family of caged wild
boars for hours. You should have seen the little piglets, only one week old, flying
across each other like cars in a demolition derby.

They were going faster than they’ll never go again. They’ll grow up into slow angry
sows with saggy udders and boars with wrecking balls that swell earthward. But
the funniest thing about this and every terrible event that fills our lives is that
tomorrow, when the dawn slips on its tie-dyed sundress, we’ll wake and cling to it,
like two little boys in love with something bigger.

Arlo Voorhees

Arlo Voorhees is a published author and instructor at Mount Hood Community College. Here is a brief autobiography:

A farm kid and Foolbright scholar from Rutland, MA, Arlo works in the adult novelty industry in Portland, OR. His work has disappeared in several lit mags and his translations of Hungarian poet Petőfi Sándor are somewhat inspiring. Like every other anxious and nostalgic millennial, Arlo, too, is a Master of Fine Arts (Oregon). He thrives in the third person.

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