Raul Alvarez

Notes on Joy



Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter biochemically derived from tryptophan and is

popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness



Approximately 90% of a human body’s total serotonin is located in the enterochromeaffin

cells in the GI tract, where it is used to regulate intestinal movements



Psychic energy pooped out by essentially weightless tiny bugs in your intestines



Start with the wind. That empty looking bowl of voices poured over everything: pitched

roofs, crab grass, unburied roots, clapping doors, rotten wood. For hours we don’t sleep.

For hours we wait for our names to pour through the mostly closed bedroom window



These are my ten fingers, they’re all I have but they have known the way water lingers after

running through the gaps between them when I hold them together like a cup



It is an honor to shut my mouth and listen to the goodness inside of everyone I’ve ever met



When Saturday sews itself into Sunday remember you can spill into everyone you meet

and still weigh the same at the end of the day



The lights downtown thrill as slowly as fingernails



The lake, the shore, the blurry part in between them perfect for getting your feet wet, a

buzzfeed slideshow of baby animals, the little quarter slot in a telephone booth or arcade

game, waking up next to somebody and not wanting to run away, a half-sunny and half-

stormy sky, unwrapping something you’re really into, a fully paid debt, working it out with

your parents, brunch, the day after you’ve finished mourning, laughing maniacally to yourself

as the sun comes up halfway through your drive across the country in the dead of the worst

winter in 100 years to bury the man who taught you what shame feels like, opening a bag of

chips, popping a zit, mail you can actually touch with your hands, a close friend who knows

what you need before you do, pretty much everything the onion publishes lately, emo music,

pants that fit real good, not having to be embarrassed anymore




Sit in wonder on the knee of the universe



No memory of pain and no memory of loss



Fuck that. Take pain and loss like late season snow into your mouth



When you’re lucky you’ll wake up with it in you—salt lashes tangled in the shallow quarries

of your skin, a testimony of molting. Also, just so you know, you’ve got some of last night’s

dreams stuck in your teeth



What if we could gather ghosts like seashells? Sift through a shoreline of ashes for some

impatient energy hungry for someone to bring them home



Bless everybody, call everyone friend. Trust stupidly and brazenly. Tell everyone you pass

quietly and gently that they are so very lovely



I do this thing everybody does where when I am listening to music very loudly and by myself

I explode



I want to be haunted pretty much forever



One of the holy states of being we get to share with other species or whatever. Seriously

though, look at a dog. You’ll know what I mean



An extraordinarily small fraction of a second when you are fully present because you are

experiencing something real and true and beautiful



That time we find an abandoned upside-down boat next to a dumpster near the lake, and it

looks quasi-floaty, with a Floridian pale blue paint job and cream colored oars, the whole

nine, and without a word we drag it toward the water fifty yards out but it is dead body

heavy and the hull scrapes awful against the gritty concrete and the midday July sun is

actively trying to kill us and beautiful people who run along the shore point at our struggle as

our hair faints on our ruddy skin until we reach the harsh edge of the manmade shoreline

where oh my god



It fucking becomes a real-ass boat instead of a very-hard-to-drag crescent and we wave at

everyone who shudders under the growing infinity in our eyes as we row and paddle and flail

our arms while the horizon watches us approaching or what if we forget the boat and spend

the day together and open all the flowers the ground is saving for next spring



Pink flowers, purple flowers, flowers shaped like chess pieces, little shitty flowers you sort of

hate to waste your time looking at but do anyway because you know they’re trying, bloody

flowers, an incredibly tall flower that attaches itself to your body and downloads all your

memories into itself, three evil ones, a flower that might be your soul mate, and several

million dandelions



The window is still open



Your name is somewhere out there, I know it



Do you think the bugs are being nice when they send you that energy, or are they just doing

what they’re supposed to do? Is it fatalist to think of microscopic gut bugs in this way?



Where would you keep the ghosts, after you collected them? I didn’t really think that part




I finally hear something but it is not the wind



I open the window all the way and jump out and you can come too. We’re high up but it

doesn’t matter because this is a poem and you can fall from a great height in a poem and not

get hurt



Okay what I heard was just the beginning of a large rain but this is perfect. Put your hands

on mine. Make them into a cup. Invite your mom, your favorite pet, your friends, whoever is

into this, and tell them to do it too because we’re gonna need a big cup



While we wait for everyone to arrive, we listen


RAUL ALVAREZ is a writer and editor living in Chicago. His work is published or forthcoming in PANK, Plankside, Court Green, and elsewhere. He maintains a website at raulrafaelalvarez.com.