Prime

By Jonathan Alfi

I wait for your message because you're what makes me glad in traffic, on a freeway, on a boulevard in the morning and there's never time to savor a doughnut with coffee.
I should be dipped in wine on a beach chair with your hair in my mouth. Instead, I swivel under halogen when the sun is out.
If they'd only publish me while I still have my hair, before I learn that life is heaven short, before I sell out and value health insurance, before I quit drinking.  Publish me while I still want a cabin by a creek with rocks that vibrate like my love-soaked brain. 
Wasted every time I eat a bad sandwich.
Wasted because I’m not in Rome and I can’t see the stars. There’s no fire song or heart-shaped pill to mellow me out, not that I’d know what to do with a heart-shaped anything.  My world doesn’t allow me the chance to sink into earth like a barefooted hippie with Dippin’ Dots, a plastic spoon, charred soles in Hawaii, on a volcano like the coal of a July fourth barbecue.
Wasted when I remember childhood because it does not make me happy. 
Wasted on prayer, the constant wishing that I had a balcony, steel furniture, a mojito, a magazine review. 
Wasted because I’m a body bag without the legs for a marathon.  I'm in bondage and there’s no blonde whispering, you lowly sad eyed monster. 
Wasted because I don’t like to shave.  I can’t stomach a mirror that yells urgency.
Wasted in bars because I only speak to strangers about how hard it is to create something that’s not a complete waste.
So, you’re working on a screenplay?
I’m working for a nod from my parents, assurance that everything will be just fine. I work for older women, order paperclips, eat chocolate in the break room.  I ingest my commute without chewing.  I walk to coffee shops, eat challah, pull off my shirt and tie.  I hold my breath through tunnels wishing that I still have my chance to smile with a white mustache.
I stay in LA, away from Paris, away from cowtown, away from the corner store. Not buying condoms for a weekend getaway, I waste my prime, eat frozen pizza and Trader Joes hors d’oeuvres, dress in vintage tees.  I’m no different than all 300 million of you fucks. I should be in bed unafraid to start the day, roll over to look at you. 

Jonathan Alfi was a 2012 PEN Center USA Emerging Voice Fellow and 2011 UCLA Kirkwood Literary Award Nominee. 



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