"Popquiz" and "Heather"


When I grow up I want to be a) happy: is something no one ever says, or b) unalone c) whole d) a hole e) anything but an a-hole, or f) hungry for the food of thought g) ravenous for the company of another h) killed by kindness, either that of others’ or my own i) enough j) always going slow k) not worshipping speed l) more than a name, a number, a face m) the bearer of good news in a bad news world n) an imbiber of skies, sucker of cosmic marrow o) tickler of teeth, torquer of tongues p) anywhere but here q) anywhen than now r) consumed by the bulbous hippos of gratitude, the wide-gullet gladness of a pelican s) swallowed in the arms of a stranger t) stranded on an island of irises u) lovesick somewhere v) so very lavender w) kissed with kitsch x) inviolably broken by my desire, never short of longing y) simply someone, anyone, as in You could really be someone, where “be” signifies some elevated sense of selfhood more commensurate with someone else’s arbitrary definition in line with societal, institutional, status quo standards contingent upon doing + accomplishing + publishing + graduating + marrying + creating + killing + converting + buying + selling, always something more, More, MORE z) none of the above -- especially that last one. You were already someone when they told you that. Even now, you are. Final answer?




Some song parts you make me feel like: the beginning of Linger by the Cranberries. That warm, shimmery bit. Same with Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac. Ditto for Lovely Day by Bill Withers. Come to think of it: any and every shimmery bit in the history of song. The piano keys trilling along, inexplicably content, throughout the entirety of Oh Yoko! By John Lennon. The startling futurity of an E-Flat bamboo flute tickling obsolescence in Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer just before the horns and synth kick in, like a pyramid made of moons there to impale all melancholy. Mum’s transversal arrival from otherhood to ethereality in Green Grass of Tunnel. The abiding largesse of generosity that is the coda from Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living. The twenty-two times God is repeated in God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. The buoyant snowcrash of Grieg’s To Spring. And, of course, For Your Precious Love by The Otis Redding, as the guitar strings swoon –- heavy and light, tender but impermeable, pained and painless all at once -- and he sings, “I just keep loving you / Nobody but you.”



Matthew Burnside

Matthew Burnside’s forthcoming books include Centrifugal: Unstories (Whiskey Tit) and Skull Kingdoms: An Imaginary Omnibus (Unsolicited Press). He is the author of Wiki of Infinite Sorrows and Postludes (both from KERNPUNKT), Rules to Win the Game (Spuyten Duyvil Press), Dear Wolfmother (Heavy Feather Review), and Meditations of the Nameless Infinite (Robocup Press). He lives in Virginia and teaches at Hollins University. Matthew recommends The Trevor Project.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 21:46