I hate white Jesus. I hate the tattoo of a fidget spinner on the wrist of a boy on the bus. I hate most of the poems of narrative ambiguity I’ve written the last five months. I hate business suits and belts, every restaurant still using Styrofoam for leftovers, plastic forks, knives. I hate this President and the garbage dump of his heart where nothing decomposes, car doors and strollers rusting in broad daylight. I hate thinking of metaphors for hate, as if it were a rodent I could evict from the apartment I don’t have. I hate technically being homeless in this liminal space called 30 and answering questions about my life or species of flowers I know nothing about or when people say fish don’t feel pain. I hate guns and short memories and the Confederate flags I’d see every time I drove the interstates of Alabama. I hate the patriarchy and men who don’t have that word in their vocabulary. I hate Jimmy Fallon for rustling 45’s hair the same way he’d pet a golden retriever, and how much the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport charges me for parking my car in their garage when I fly across this country for weddings, and now when I dream I dream that my eyes close like garage doors: slow, even, and loud enough to hear floors away. I hate climate change deniers and what this nation did to Native Americans and black people and how we’ve never amended it. I hate message boards and the internet sometimes and my back when it hurts. I hate that I haven’t learned Spanish yet or figured out a better way to say I am covered in music. I hate my bladder and one day when I’m old if I get old, I think I may hate my jaw which I hate the U.S. Healthcare Industry prematurely for, and also appropriately for, in this year we’re calling 2017, as a guy with an unbuttoned shirt shouts at this Los Angeles bus stop, his feet caked black, his hair knotted like a blanket destined to spend the rest of its days in and out of a dog’s wet mouth—I hate how his mind has crashed in on itself like a wave, and Fox News, and the people who think they’re thinking when really they’re just repeating something someone said, and though I don’t hate Wisconsin where I work right now, it’s whiter than a Northern winter, which I do hate, and I hate how bored teens must be to skateboard and look at their cell phones simultaneously, and I hate the unconvincing nature of logic in our present political discourse and the relevance of dystopian fiction. Sometimes I want to unzip my neck, let the bullshit I’ve tuned out leak from my head. Say, Take me back to the mechanic. Tell them to loosen the valves, as if I weren’t some organic thing. I hate how I could keep going, but dear reader I don’t want to keep you here. You’ve made it this far, and though my eyes may not rise to meet yours under the canopy of this taco stand, a mural of cacti on this building’s side, the cloudless sky, I remember now, I can count in Spanish to ten. Uno. I am 2000 miles away from home. Dos. I am less than ten blocks from the ocean. Tres. I hate the floating islands of plastic swirling in the sea. Quatro. I just read a news story about two strangers bonding over country music in Las Vegas before a man fired bullets into the crowd from a hotel room. Cinqo. When it happened, I was in the North Woods surrounded by birch trees. Six. It can all be different, #myfavoriteidea. Siete. Dear Los Angeles, I squint one of my garage door eyes to focus. Ocho. I swear I’m like a pinhole camera at the beginning of its life, that there’s a light pole in my body begging to be built. Nueve. I hate how far I’ve come to arrive at the end of this poem, which began northeast in the country of my hating heart, on the 4th of July in New York City, my eyes staring at one fixed point in the subway after another, water streaming into the bottomless pits of the Twin Towers, at every flag a name, the world proving almost impossible to feel. And one more makes diez. I wonder now, how do we open our hands to the ground’s rising heat, or listen to the pink and green truths of 80s pop music? How do we look out from the center of our lives toward the dark silhouettes of winter trees? Orange sky glowing like a late-night infomercial. Sun playing hide-and-seek somewhere else.
Maggie Graber earned her MFA at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She has received grants and fellowships for her poems from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Luminarts Cultural Foundation, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Hobart, pacificREVIEW, and elsewhere. She currently works in Wisconsin as a Wilderness Therapy Field Instructor. Find her online at maggiegraber.com.