Impractical Taxidermy

by Chris Vola

your mimosa breath stinks worse

than a slow damp murder

worse than the tipsy gardening enthusiast

in the outdoor seating area

telling the dehydrated hibiscus

she bought in a Whole Foods parking lot

that nine inches

is the perfect cozy domestic height

(basically looks good in every filter!)

worse than the indistinguishable persona

of every follow-up email

sadder than an unviewed story

i.e. we’ve all seen that fucking French bulldog before

i.e. let’s talk unironically about early 2000s southern rap

& convince the couple next to us that the absence of video chat

is the absence of human sexuality

i.e. every stupid repetitive thing

but your thumbs just weave across the screen

buzzed & choosing GIFs of small mammals

like you want to build an impractical taxidermy app

but not get too famous from it

the old comfortable temptation

while I lick the salt rim because duh

possession is power

power is falling into dry accommodation with the spilled voices

beyond the heat lamps & muted basketball games

(does sharing school shooting memes mean we’re intersectional feminists?)

(will you, dearest bae, permit one last stroll

through the comments section?)

these small methods of resistance

that prevent us from being consumed

the itch & scratch of skins rubbing

I should probably talk to you about all of this

(I never talk to anyone about anything!)

your eyes as downtrodden

as my social media presence

frozen fingernails waiting to flatten me

like last birthday’s Perrier-Jouët

against the darkening pavement

or maybe you’re just casting spells on Ashley’s yoga pants

the wi-fi connection is lit after all

or maybe you just want to grab the check

I mean I get it

there has been a shift

the speaker-muffled drum breaks

signifying something personal

the inconspicuousness of the playlist

becoming a historical reenactment

& not one that ends in a rah-rah victory salute

more like the glittering nihilism

of your cousin’s MS fundraiser

or if we’re being honest

the accidental FaceTime last spring

in Playa del Carmen

an off-white towel

stained AirBnB hardwood

Siri repeating “smothered aftertaste” in Spanish

floating on seas of old violence

the shadow becoming distinct

but you don’t want me to say that

name the sweat-ghouls

of three-day-weekends past

you want to maintain an unwholesome collaboration

your phone’s buzz

giving birth to cruel analysis

your glass raised to split the wound

ready to make the collapse feel

as obvious as a fundamentalist teenager

i.e. shitfaced on sadness

& I say nothing and zoom in

on the serpentine glint of your Amex

& imagine a so-bad-it’s-good rom-com

but only flesh out

the final scene: we exit left


by another side-eye from

the improbably handsome busboy

waiting to clear our dregs

from the forest of the already dead

& talk shit about us to the hostess

in an eerily familiar equatorial dialect

& you stop

really stop


look & finally scale

the mountain of why everything happens

& touch

the hands

you love to touch


Chris Vola is the author of six books. He writes and bartends in New York and can be found at

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