Jake Bailey

Empty waiting room’s bearing down on me,
vacant chairs like slick robed judges licking their chops,
and it’s been three days, it’s been three days
since I told you,
since the bottle birthed a breaking point,
since the whisky wellspring dried up
into shakes and shivers driving my hands
to pick and pull my whiskers clean;

there’s a boundary that you cross
when the river runs dry, an arid becoming,
a thistle-worn doorway made of silt and sand, crust and mud—
they said give it three days,
three days will send you to the top of the mount,
but the river’s dry, parched as hell burning brightest
when the sinner sacrifices self for solace,
comfort for clothespins pinching lace-bound garments
to weather worn rope;

three days in the wilderness drives a man to madness,
to a new level of thirst in the desert of the given,
given to falling in the rushing waters not seen
in these parts for years or what feels like it,
tie a rock to twist-tied ankles and send me down stream,
I’d rather be drowning in dust than swallowing nothing

Jake Bailey considers himself a schizotypal confessionalist in Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program and an associate editor of Lunch Ticket. He has forthcoming work in Rhythm of the Bones: Dark MarrowNeon Mariposa MagazineThe Laurel Review, and FlyPaper Magazine and has been published in The Esthetic Apostle and Prairie Light Review.

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