So this girl messages me
do you want to hang out sometime.
So I look and see she actually has a boyfriend.
The boyfriend as it turns out is a reindeer.
And not only that, a metal display reindeer.
He has a brassiere tangled around one of his antlers.
One of his eyes is missing.
He says to me, “Boy?”
Followed by long silence.
I look over my shoulder to see if anyone’s coming.
“What you doin’ fuckin with my princess.”
Just like that.
Like I had even messaged her back.
Then he begins to cough and I can see
he’s coughing blood onto the carpet.
It’s not much blood but the basement
of my aunt’s house is the wrong place for this.
I should have paid attention in school.
I should have gone to Russia.
I shouldn’t have skipped cross country.
This girl messages me again
this time just three dots.
Like I should have replied already.
But I know I’ll never really have it all.
I look and see that she’s no longer online.
And not only that, her profile is gone.
A man comes in and asks me about the reindeer.
I say I didn’t do anything, he just started coughing.
The man says this never happened, you weren’t here.
I realize nothing ever really happens.
But I miss her already and we’ve never met.
THE YOUNG BOY
I inquire of a young boy
sitting under a tree.
“My friends are away
in the far mountains,” he says,
gesturing toward a bank
of clouds. “Mine are dying,”
I say. “Mine are learning
to live, I guess,” he says,
then shrugs and returns
to his knitting.
“Not another lilting topiary
of my darling,” reported an historian
as she tugged at her protégé’s
necktie, “but a flight
of Central California rosés,
herbed in the finest blossom bottles,
the green-hued variety Mamie
used to jog home from Woolworth’s with.”
And suddenly we, as if we (the
collapsed cretins in her
custody) knew what she meant,
begin applauding and pounding
our hooves thunderously, as one
blue herd seeking the most
we could find. And she, having just
lost her stepmother to copperheads,
donned a Stetson
and ambled west, toward, they say,
the sea and whatever lurks in it.
Aaron Belz’s books include The Bird Hoverer (2007), Lovely, Raspberry (2010) and Glitter Bomb (2014). He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.