“I’ve Got a Guy on the Inside” By Jake Bailey

The needle was always a riddle, hole-punch
puncturing oil-slick flesh,
a lawn worker aerating overgrown dirt, severed
eyeball eating hair-raised grass,
wwwwswallow swallow swallowing laundry
wwwwabove a three-legged stool,
high-heel hooves teetering on raised platform,
wwwwcrust-rimmed bowl loosening over maggot-rot potatoes,
wwwwwwwwwwho wants stew?

It’s a kind of neon photosynthesis, shimmer-shaking
silver sucked up by hungry hamburgers and other
odd assortments that weave themselves together,
craft a canvas of 7-Eleven eccentricities.

Hold still.
Hold tight.
Hold on-

wwwwto white-flap gown aiming to take off down 235 in an exodus
wwwwof roaming eggplants, teeth-snarl vegetables voyeuristically flashing
wwwwwwwwwonlookers their erect stems.

I asked for a razor,
whiskers spiraling out
of pockmarked pores, but they won’t
even let me wear my own pants,
too many legs
to keep track of, too many
knots for bungee jumping—

wwwwthey didn’t check the pockets, got a pea-green frog
wwwwblaring cap-toothed trumpets inside of a cocoon, he’ll know
wwwwwhat to do when I get a get-out-of-jail-free card,
wwwwwwwwwshouldn’t be long,
wwwwwwwwwwwwwjust shuffled the cards.

When I get out, really out,
I’ll let my IV drip like broken water, weld
my artificial womb shut with a bucket of deer blood
drained from rust-drip racks,
wwwwhospitals really shouldn’t leave the waiting room open,
wwwwI’ll plop down next to unsuspecting pigeons, fill
wwwwmy bleach-white belly with week-old baguettes, down
wwwwa few self-help magazines to see if I can improve
wwwwon a persona,
wwwwwwwwwor at least one of them, maybe the other guy’s.

You know,
I’ve never been to another hospital
that kept a whale carcass full of squirrels on the front lawn,
acorns sprouting out of blubber bloat bifurcation, smells
wwwwlike progress, smells like fish markets lined in geriatric diapers,
wwwwhaunted by well-meaning wolves wandering empty corridors,
wwwwwwwwwI wish they had shock collars like me.

The board’ll vote on whether to keep us
past Tuesday, but I think they saw me thinking out loud, saw
wwwwme dodge the silhouette that lives in the hall bathroom,
wwwwcan’t do stuff like that outside the ant farm, can’t
wwwwconspire against muzzle-mouthed IRS agents digging through my taxes—
wwwwwwwwwthey don’t need to know that I deducted my severed toe,
wwwwwwwwwthough the implant probably knows that,

wwwwwwwwwwwwwthey can do anything they want.

In Baltimore, I was told that I dressed like a movie star,
but schizo-spectrums will show you anything, even
a mannered man in a sport coat trying to cross infected cacti,
wwwwI didn’t know they could move like that,
wwwwdidn’t know that octopuses crawl like drunken spiders,
wwwwwwwwwlike tumbleweeds bouncing on the newest titrations.

wwwwwwwwwI’ve heard that the best way to die is in an avalanche,
wwwwwwwwwright before they throw the switch,
wwwwwwwwwwwwwyou finally feel warm.

Jake Bailey is a schizotypal confessionalist in Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program and the co-editor of poetry for Lunch Ticket. He was a semifinalist for The Hellebore Scholarship award and has published or forthcoming work in Parentheses Journal, FlyPaper Magazine, The Laurel Review, Pidgeonholes, formercactus, The Hellebore, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere. Jake lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and three dogs.

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