What I Was by Matthew Tuckner

I am but the pin holding up one corner of
                a reproduction of The Scream, facing an open
bay window as a tornado flips a car outside
                of the nearby nursery school. I am having
separation anxiety. I am so far away from the world.
                The world is so far away from the nearest
quasar. It’s all just a kick in the head. I was
                once a shoelace picking up some stray piss
and a few abandoned corpuscles of dirt
                left by a soccer cleat, as my shoe’s owner flushed
a dead turtle down the toilet. My owner believed
                that turtles were hibernators. Taxonomy was like
Esperanto to my shoe’s owner. I was the smoke
                in a glass pipe blown in the guise of a turtle. I was
the high the smoke brought on my shoe’s owner,
                like the type of heat the sun leaves on a metal
bleacher, a spilled cup of orange blossom water.
                Now, I am the flag America left on the moon,
and the metal rod stabbed along its length
                to simulate the wind. If only there were
tornadoes on the moon, for I am what America
                does to its birds: sanctification and removal.
I am what a bird does for its chicks: regurgitation
                and a push from the nest. There was a time
when I was the last second of sight in Milton’s eyes.
                There was a time when I was the vampire Munch
painted, curled around a man with his head in my lap,
                my teeth in his neck, a painting titled Love and Pain
after each of Milton’s eyes. Pain, a word defined as
                the opposite of pleasure. Love, the feeling of an epiphyte
for its host. A shoelace for its shoe. I am having
                togetherness anxiety. It’s all just a punch in the arm.
I am a dolphin, a dauphin, I need some blood, I miss being
                tied into a perfect knot. When I say something, I always
mean it, then I don’t. Meaning I am America. Meaning I am
                a human being. I am the mess of river and sky
almost breaching the bridge the screaming figure stands
                on in The Scream. I am a blowhole, a blowhard,
the piece of zirconium placed in a crown believing it was
                made for the guts of a television. I am the sound
that never leaves the figure’s mouth, on mute. I am
                what almost every element does to paper.
I am the tornado, but you are already screaming.
Matthew Tuckner is a writer from New York. He received his BA from Bennington College and will begin pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at NYU in the fall. He also recently received the 2019 Green University Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets, selected by Rick Barot. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Bear Review, Coal Hill Review, Eunoia Review, Missouri Review and TAGVVERK. He currently works as a staff reader for The Adroit Journal and a bookseller.