Adam Fell


I know I will never outlive

this gritting on the pale plasticulate sand

of my own culpability. I know I will never

outlast this too-human season of proms.

There is too much money involved, and I

can’t stop watching, waiting indignantly for

some glitch to crash the wireless

connection, to redact the comments about

comments about comments. Maybe I’m

too hard on myself. Maybe I should just

unhinge, binge, bloody myself on every

white, midwestern college kid wearing a

keffiyeh as a scarf in the coffee shop,

shatter every touchscreen, and walk the

heartburn away. But instead I walk to the

record store, stumble through the used

bins and, on my way home, skirt the

capitol building, try to discern which

window our governor is shattering out at

us from behind. The LPs unwrapped

shimmer as if bottomless bodies of water.

They have their own tidal pull in my

hands. When untapped like this the

sounds their bodies carry are glyphs that

glance the city back to me as curves of

fractured light. I hold the city by its edge,

see the smudges of other people’s fingers

on its hem, the nicks and skips and

scratches of staunchly spinning years.

Thank god there’s at least one thing we

can always agree on. Scars are left by

even the most delicate love.


Living in the sirens, you

drink to all the skinny cocktails struggling

to become who they’ve been convinced

they really are. You miss sadness. You

miss the knife you made a foundation.

You know how lonely it is playing the

perkiest tit in the mouth of panic. Living in

the sirens, all you wanted was a nightcap

in a quiet dive, was that too much to ask?

The kindness of a quiet night alone for

once not lonely. The intimate revolution of

the patrons in the bar-back mirror. You

just wanted to shred the soggy coaster

beneath your Manhattan, go home alone,

bourbon-glown, maybe watch some movie

involving millions in movie magic property

damage. But the skinny cocktails down

the bar keep mistaking internship for

internment, keep taking Goldschläger

shots and photos of themselves with the

same porn-smudged half-torn wink and

smile. They keep talking about stringing

themselves up along the rooftops of this

scalding summer city, christmas-lit and

momentously caipirinha’d. No matter

whose clothes are burning beneath them

on the avenue. No matter what story the

floodwaters have reached. Living in the

sirens, you know where this is going. You

know there will be a plastic tiara involved.

Suck for a Buck, a Dum-Dum bouquet, a

bile-hot headache and a marriage in the

rain.  You know you’re right but it’s the

kind of right that’s a corkscrew in your

throat. And even after they stagger out,

after their crankings fade into the

migration of mass transit, after the city is

muzzled by the closing of the reinforced

door and no patron inside will dare crush

such priceless seconds of seclusion with

uncrumpled dollars of music, even then, in

the voluptuous blood-beat of the closest

you can come to silence in this city, the

closed-caption on the muted television

above the bartender’s head reads [Sirens].


ADAM FELL is the author of DEAR CORPORATION (H_NGM_N Books, 2013). His first book of poetry is I AM NOT A PIONEER (H_NGM_N Books, 2011) and he lives in Madison, WI, where he teaches at Edgewood College and co-curates the Monsters of Poetry Reading Series.