We Fell in Love & All We Got Was This Dystopia

by J River Helms

There are no secrets left: my mind a gallows that won’t relent.
                 Houses across the street sink slowly. Clouds & trees transpose. The receiver
emanates nothing next to my ear. I take my tea with the last of the honey. We
                 wake to ghosts each night, pace the garden in turns. Can’t figure out how to avert
obsolescence, to keep anything alive. Is it dawn or dusk, sweetheart? We’ve
                 run out of road & besides, our car hasn’t cranked in months.
Repair’s impossible: I open the hood over & over & nothing
                 gives. It’s clear that we belong elsewhere but there’s no
discernible way to navigate. The knife slips again in the kitchen &
                 I begin to wonder if I’m doing this on purpose, what I’m surfacing.
My beard has never been this long. Shovel over shoulder, you surveil the
                 edges of the yard at night & my latest trick is sleeping near — but not too
near — the fire. The inventors have all gone. The trains stopped running. I
                 stopped walking through my favorite graveyard alone. Seasons shifted.
If I’m no longer a container for grief then what? Calendar’s been wrong for weeks.
                 Only so much I can eviscerate in an honest day’s work. Such nothing, you say:
nothing left. Eclipses every evening now. Take our meals in the street to watch.


J River Helms (they/them) has published poetry and prose in Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Fairy Tale Review, New England Review, Phoebe, Redivider, and Sonora Review, among others. Machines Like Us, their first collection of poetry, was published by Dzanc Books in 2016. J has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and lives in Houston, TX with their partner and two pets.