The following poem and short story are from English major Luke Ballmer. The poems explore loss, epiphanies, and new Linked In profile pictures. Read more below.
I hurl through the doors
then melt to the floor
but the tears barely pour
because I’m drunk, dehydrated, and missing you.
I saw your new Linkedin profile picture
and should have figured your shorter haircut’s dramatic velocity
would brush aside my lonely philosophy of steadily improving.
You were impossible there in skinny angles and Mona Lisa smile while I defiled myself on this real Bathroom floor struggling in shit for the desire of breath.
Early next morning my low screams woke me from a dream.
The Babadook chased my family and I through an endless maze.
My roommate stared with wide owl eyes as the ghost turned back
into a pile of his dirty laundry.
During his nightly shower, Jack Hutter frantically sought an answer. Was he having an epiphany? Taking care, he turned the shower off and eased onto the slippery floor. It felt dirty and somehow perilous, yet caution vanished as he remembered that the question was familiar. He began to chase an answer, or, at least, to shave more dangerously. Blood formed a globe around a sliced pimple as the young student hastened through his mirror-bound routine. He wiped off the blood with a paper towel, then fished his toothbrush from the disintegrating moving box on the sink. Brushing echoed harshly across the linoleum. He struggled against the voices.
“So, it’s happening again?,” the chorus sneeringly began.
Jack brushed faster.
“Well then, let’s revisit.” Jack’s apartment in Los Angeles was as it had been that night. A garish painting of Marilyn Monroe flirting with James Dean in a bar while Elvis sullenly watches hung on one wall. There were all the cheap lamps and piled trash one expects. His roommates sprawled out over stained sofas, clutching worn-down Xbox controllers. One of them, a sluggish, ever-cheerful student named Justin, asked Jack to join in as he returned from night class.
“Come on, we never see you anymore,” was his friendly, slurred appeal.
Jack assented, and then there was nothing more.
In bed hours later, he felt a snapping into place. After hours lost in the frightful juvenilia of first-person shooters, the shame had been paralyzing. He had laid in bed horrified and sweating, as if he had accidentally poisoned a close friend. But then he had a new feeling. It was as if his known universe was at once ordered by the gravitational pull of a newborn star. All of the mistakes and confusions swirled into place around it. Jack felt that the obvious, always
present, must become as usual as atmospheric pressure. In a time of crisis, the obvious had become sensible and saved him! It was so clear! Scarcity of time––your one life. Clarity, forever! Epiphany.
Golden revelations like these flashed through Jack’s mind for hours, blinding any hope of decent sleep. His 8AM class loomed closer. He began to have doubts. He began to become conscious of the dark holes in the ceiling. His body began to itch. He turned over restlessly and lost track of himself. Silly thoughts floated through his head. Would consciousness of time scarcity save his hours lost in Halo and ensure he’d never waste a moment of time again?
In the bathroom, Jack felt his heart drop.
“You’ve remembered?” the chorus cheered triumphantly.
There was nothing left to do but pack up the toiletries and slowly walk back to his room.