Poem to End My Head Off by Tao Lin




In celebration of Tao Lin’s fantastic new book, Taipei, we are reprinting his 2004 “Poem to End My Head Off,” which first appeared on Surgery of Modern Warfare, your editor’s previous online publishing project.  


i am so very tired


coffee no longer helps

it used to help

for hours at a time

coffee used to help

but not anymore

coffee has changed

it now has a Tylenol Cold effect

makes me blanch and lightweight

like a bone

coffee has become Tylenol Cold

but Tylenol Cold has remained Tylenol Cold

life has begun to do this sort of thing

dopplegang and clone at itself

shift to sameness

for example

this morning

i looked in the mirror

and guess what my face looked like

it looked like Tylenol Cold


tomorrow i take caffeine pills

and snort them up my nose

one pill for each day that is not glorious

many many many many many many


the next day i search my room for epiphanies

from my childhood

i make two piles on my bed

one pile for trash and crap

one pile for epiphanies

from my childhood

that i missed

a third pile on my head for unknown


a thing i like to do is heat up a pan

and take a fat thing of butter

and heat the end of it by mashing it into the hot pan

and then lick it

i wish you knew this thing about me


every morning

when i wake up

i go immediately to take a shower







quiet face

sleepy head.