Vacant Absolutely

by Zoë Hitzel

Mother says I can stay in her crumbling Missouri.
I have seen it before. I know what will happen.
Someone will moan at night in an empty bathtub.
Someone will pass out watching Lethal Weapon Four
and spill their whiskey on the cat.
Someone will yell and the stab words will shriek
when they plunge and no one will want to exist anymore.
And no one will admit to any of this.

How sane am I? Four degrees and soon
I’ll be sleeping in a steamy river city while my stuff
waits garaged across the country next to an earthquake and some wildfires.

What about you? You’re an architect of your future.
You buy groceries. You plunder natural resources.
Start your car early when it’s cold.
What makes you want to keep living? Why stay in motion?
What makes you pass each hamster dance highrise
with firm lips hackles raised eyes vacant absolutely gorged
on the present moment’s poor sense of waking life reward?
What is this home the architects speak of?
What is event horizon? Or dread?

I cannot return home. I would not want to.
I wake when I want so I don’t pluck out my teeth
and put them in a jar, to rattle.

Cruelty to the self is perhaps the most pure—
your pain is completely your own.

And isn’t that why Abraham stuck his son atop an altar,
clasped a bright knife in his ancient hands?

Isn’t that why I rest my hopes in a box
called someday I shush beneath my unmade bed?

Wasn’t I going home? I was going to not fight.

Once, I quit smoking, to live longer, and now
I look around and do not know
where I am or why.


About the Author
Zoë Estelle Hitzel earned her MA at Northern Arizona University and her MFA at Oregon State University. Her writing appears in The Fourth River, Blue Lyra Review, entropy, pacificREVIEW, and elsewhere. Her debut full-length poetry collection, Gender as Flytrap, is forthcoming in 2018 from Sundress Publications.