Instructions 3, 5, and 6

Instructions 3

When you eat, thank the testers
for the little deaths. This
is the way to make breakfast:
remember that you’re special
because everyone is. Then,
add cheese. Bacon is probably
worth going to hell for, but that’s
for God to decide. All you need
is a chorus, some toast, eggs,
and Duke’s mayo. If you accidentally
glimpse the way you’ll die,
go ahead and have orange juice. 
We made hours to have something
to count, so dying is another
name for productivity. Clean
as you go so you have time to dread
later without distraction. Scotch
Gard your heart to reduce stains.
One finger points to the door.
The other points to the window.
Neither knows how to apply
for an NEA grant with anything
approaching success. If anyone
were watching you, they’d think
you were a fucking idiot right now.
Put your plate in the sink. Pull
up your pants. Wipe something off.



Instructions 5

When you travel, pretend
you have the knees of a much
younger man. If it helps,
name him Jimmy. Everyone
loves and no one trusts
a Jimmy. Most people you’ll meet
want you dead, but don’t take
it personally. It’s just
Capitalism, poor seat design,
something we don’t talk about
that happened one time. No matter
how much they yell, don’t look. It’s
a trick to add you to the list. All of it
since the forceps yanked you free
was a trick.
The question to ask is why,
if you hate everything, are
you trying to save it with public
transportation and not setting
random buildings on fire?
A more useful question is how
can you set yourself on fire
when you’ve burned up or given
away all your fuel? Keep
your eyes down. No one
is watching you. Except
that one guy, in the corner.
That fucker’s taking notes.  



Instructions 6

When you work, remember
that the hand you’ve taken
is the state’s; the ring, a cuff.
Convenience is another word
for love. If karma were real,
we’d all be damned, along
with God and the well-wishers.
It’s all just some call center in an Idaho
prison, anyway. They don’t even make
minimum wage to deliver those
thoughts and prayers.
A postcard from the copy room.
A postcard from the broken stall
in the men’s room.
A postcard from the crying station
under your desk.
A postcard from the null space
behind the printer.
A postcard from the eye of the cord
A postcard from the smell of hand lotion.
A postcard from yesterday’s lunch.
A postcard from the dust
that has learned enough speech
to complain.
A postcard from a three-ton stack
of wasted paper.
A postcard from office politics
that says: Wish You Weren’t Here.



CL Bledsoe

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than twenty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, Trashcans in Love, Grief Bacon, and his newest, Driving Around, Looking in Other People's Windows, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and the The Saviors. He’s been published in hundreds of journals, newspapers, and websites. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter. He recommends Planned Parenthood.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, May 19, 2022 - 22:17