Let’s pretend this is the best song ever crank it up and pretend we’re tourists in shorts with maps, and in love
let’s pretend that kiss was an accident blame it on boozy excitement let’s pretend we’re Italian and stroll
la passeggiata on the Via del Corso let’s pretend my cousin in Idaho doesn’t have guns plural, pretend
we’re in labor and push, pretend the alert wasn’t amber and the lost child was found alive and safe
hiding under her bed, pretending let’s pretend we’re rich and thin and slouch laconically on a balcony
let’s pretend our ears don’t burn nod yes with a mouthful of rare beef dab tears of contentment, pretend
we are a happy family of four and it’s bath time, then bedtime read a story about ourselves
as rabbits and squirrels who live in thatched-roof cottages with secret passageways, let’s pretend
our secrets make us interesting let’s pretend we don’t remember let’s pretend we remember everything
what’s that smell? It wasn’t us the error module does not recognize the error, let’s pretend we are
who we say we are, that we wave at mayors in parades and always call back our moms, this works best
when we’re unbearably sad this isn’t fun anymore so what, pretend that it is
and that we understand Twitter and tailgating and love ourselves even half as much as we should
let’s pretend that pretending is different than lying and we don’t see a black Mercedes
circling the block and this waterfall is not powered by electricity, we are not
powered by electricity, pretend this dead-end is not the real-deal end.
Every pop song is just another song about California, the waves, yeah the waves, kids in the boom-boom room shaking ass in the smoke
machine smoke like they’re dancing in a gold cage, dudes singing along and bobbing their heads in midlife crisis cars like they’re all alone
in traffic, blonde girls bouncing on dorm room beds vogueing a looping dumbshow on Vine for faraway boys with lathery
torsos, and the chorus goes hi-lo blowpop shuga-shuga shake-- every club song is lonely, is a song about longing generally, every
song about California dreaming is sad the way a Solo cup rolling on its side under a palm tree is and neon blinking Palms Read Here
is just another way to say take me to the bridge, let that big 4/4 box store beat build to the bridge which always takes you back
to the same chorus, surge of blood away, away from the brain, let me come back to beats like little boxes where I can have all
the big feelings, me, always with the big, stupid feelings, and the kids jumping on beds in a scream-along, they have
all the feelings, and boys with the spins holding their heads, they have all the feelings, flare guns shooting off for anyone,
anonymous, interchangeable as bodies on the dance floor, predictable as let’s stay for just one more as though
that would ever be enough, we’ll never have to come down to the verse, that old story, so much explaining, just
let the beat drop and the vocoder vocals soar, dance so close to the speaker the bass hurts our kidneys, so loud we can’t
even hear what the singer is saying, like you only live once doesn’t also mean that you are dying.
Hey you, tune in that sonar. Come on down here with your fanged kiss, bow rosined and held aloft,
ascot crooked but rakishly so. How I’ve missed scanning the horizon for you, wary of parallax--
decadent, the way it screws with the curves. I need your thumbprint on me in glitter or in ash.
I looked for you in bulk bins of star anise, in the creases of bus seats, in strange twangs
and interstate clovers, mistook you for other pangs and baubles, and lay awhile panting
in your shadow, laid wait in stairwells and in the body’s many clefts, whispered
for you, parched, once thought I saw you through a guitar pick’s tortoiseshell, once
caught a glimpse of the hem of your robe. I sensed you with my high-powered sensor.
I orbited you, I probed. And now I see your massive eye blink against the bars of the cage
as my vessel pulls closer, risking burn up for data.
-- Heather June Gibbons is the author of the chapbook Flyover (Q Ave Press, 2012), and her poems have appeared widely in literary journals, including Blackbird, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, jubilat, The Laurel Review, and West Branch. A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received fellowships and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, the Prague Summer Program, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Heather teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University.