:: Article

A Cross-Dressing Ghost Orchid in Bloom & other poems

By Justin Karcher.

A Cross-Dressing Ghost Orchid in Bloom

I roll over after sex and give the guy my back.
He knows it’s time to leave and puts on his clothes
As the sunlight streams in. When he walks out the door,

I wonder if he’s filled with self-hatred, maybe a sudden desire
To punch the first person he sees. If the one-night stand is any good,
It’s as if you’re carving insecure hieroglyphics into the person’s mind.

He or she will never be able to decipher what it means or what you mean.
Oh well – I get out of bed, light up a smoke, and begin to dust off the day.
Last night marked one of the worst nights of violence between blood and fingernails.

When the Ferguson Grand Jury made its decision,
I was sitting at a dyke bar and nursing a drink.
I just wanted a nice glass of wine

And now it feels like I’m hung-over on the blood of children,
Swaying through my apartment like strange and dangerous hydrocarbon.
I guess we gorge on genetics when we feel scared or sad.

The sad thing is, no one cares anymore.

The scene was an image of lifelessness:
Millions of Americans wearing bulletproof armor and launching satellites into Missouri.
A group of high-tech tycoons mining our asteroid anxieties for resources.

They’ll do whatever it takes, anything to make you sweat,
Like cross-dressing your eyes so you’re confused at what you see –
Another strain of paranoia contagion characterized by paradigm shifts.

When Michael Brown was shot dead, causing 3 million gallons of crude oil
To pour into the nation’s bloodstream, I was busy digging around the basement
Looking for the Ramen noodles I had buried years ago

For a time like this, when there’s a whiff of apocalypse in the air,
When debt levels are soaring, when the year is on track to be the hottest on record,
When thousands of small space rocks are fisting earth’s atmosphere,

When anarchic ice loss has tripled, when drag queens seek refuge
On the northern shores of Alaska. These kids are inheriting
A deeply troubled planet, unable to express identity in the landscape.

Look, I’m more than just a queen in foot long eyelashes.
I’m afraid of getting lonely or angry like sea ice or tundra.
I’m prepared to never leave the house,

To embrace a lifetime of always missing out. I might as well let the agoraphobia bloom
Like a ghost orchid. Each ghost orchid can bloom one to ten flowers
That open one at a time. Depression works the same way.

It sets off a domino effect that only leads downhill.
Oh well – we all bloom into ghosts one way or another. Empires too.
So let’s party until we come up with a conspiracy theory worthy of a tinfoil hat,

A tale of genocide that’ll chill you to the bone,
A tale of carnivorous teardrop fossils trapped in American amber.
Might as well get more oxygen in preparation for combat,

But don’t let the douchebags get you. I’m no different than what’s going on.
America’s a cross-dresser too. A corpse that puts on a dress of heartbeats.
How it prances around as if it’s living and breathing, but we all know the truth.

How to Help Your Sun Feel More Comfortable about Its Sexuality

Somewhere in space, there are tiny worlds
Swarming around an adolescent version of our own sun.

This sun has dreams for the future, of leaving the fear behind
And taking to the open road, because the universe is a weird place,

Weirder than America, weirder than the illusion we have here on earth,
And that weirdness should be explored. Suns need to experiment too,

Like taking huge hits of antimatter and having cosmicdelic visions –
Little stop motion angels fluttering from planet to planet, chasing after God

And singing like assholes. Or like having one-night stands with tipsy black holes
And sneaking out of their parents’ Cape Cod cottages in the early morning,

When gravity becomes ordinary again, when space-time ripples begin to unripple,
Because quite frankly, suns are horribly bored, and newness gives them a brief

Moment of interest before boredom sets it. Suns need to experiment too,
Falling in and out of love, possessing hearts that look like hospice submarines,

Useless hearts handcuffed to fate, unable to explore even the tiniest puddle
Of feeling. Suns need to know what it’s like to be cold, what it’s like to hate someone

So much that you stay home all day making voodoo dolls out of dark matter
Hoping that with each pinprick the person’s entire multiverse unravels a little bit,

Because stabbing a voodoo doll is so satisfying, because constructive anger
Helps us change ourselves, helps to change the way we see the bigger picture.

After all, it’s tough to keep your eyes clean after 5 thousand million years
And many of the stars we see at night have already died. It just takes them a while

To get out of the vacuous deathbed and start a brand new day. No one wants to lie
On their deathbed and think about a lifetime of regret. I hope, no I pray,

That our sun is a star that lived its young life to the fullest, that its arms
Are sleeved in hormonal hesitation marks, that it spent its formative years

Wondering what death’s like and downing 40s of love. I hope that our sun
Didn’t waste away its youth while sequestered in a wet basement

Playing Goldeneye on N64 and watching friends evolve into enemies

Before deciding it’s finally time to leave the rustiest corner of the galaxy

And figure out its identity. I hope it windmilled its self-loathing energy
Into something slightly positive, into exploring the loveliest places in the universe,

Because sometimes when I stare at it, I see an old man wearing crusted pajamas
Sleepwalking through the halls of an assisted living facility and wondering

Where he put things, wondering if all star-crossed lovers are sleepwalking
Through a wasteland looking for his light. It feels nice to be wanted like that.

Some Advice for Victims of Necrophiliacs

In the middle of nowhere, the moon screams past Katherine and I
And suddenly our clothes are off and we’re making out like two lava stones.
This is how we get our sentimental fetish on: by getting drunk on the outskirts
Of empire and waiting for awkward music to sweep into our ears,

To tell us how to move, to tell us how to feel. From the penguin and shark orchestras
Of Myrtle Beach to a country music jamboree, we do it all – just so long as it turns
Our bones into bumper cars. We’re very anxious to get from one place to another,
To crash ourselves into anything, because we’re deficient in design. The fear of

Making things worse encourages us to do nothing. Or so we thought. First time
I met Katherine, I was attending a support group for victims of necrophiliacs. I was
Looking for more people like me: dead inside with dried-up guts, not ever in the mood,
But always pheromoning enough that I’d always find myself crawling across strange skin

Like some silken spider. Then the inevitable verbiage: you don’t look at me,
It’s like you’re not even there, with so little blood flow I’m surprised you could even
Get it up…I never thought of the alternative: that these intercourse inebriates somehow
Cracked open the casket of conversation and dragged out my corpse, threw it on the bed

And had their way with it. See, it’s not me; it’s you. Once the revelation sunk its teeth in,
I realized that all of America is equatored head to toe in division: black & white, rich &
Poor, medicated & unmedicated, corpses & living beings. Occupy this, occupy that, but
The strange blood flow is where the addiction sticks, where the desperate blowup dolls

Of flesh find themselves surrounded by conniving necrophiliacs. It’s all so simple! And
That’s why I went to the support group where I met Katherine. The doctor told us all
That the trick to making it in America is finding and redefining intimacy, what it means,
That this is just one pitfall of living in a declining empire where the talking heads of state

Are constantly cannibalizing the sexual conquests of the past, always reminiscing
About the glory days, how their words drip venom and shove necrophiliacs into the
Wombs of its women and boogeymen into the balls of its men. It’s all so simple!
That the trick to making it in America is to handcuff your dead eyes to the dead eyes

Of another, that this is love, and hope that two negatives make a positive, that because
Empty space has more energy than everything in the universe, we should apply this logic
To the wonton wormholes beating inside our chests. That we should carve a kissing home
Out of nowhere & wait for unparalysis to set in, when all of ghostly America opens up its

Big mouth to spit out solemn songs, when it uncorks its tentacles from up out of the abyss
To suction cup the neurosis through our holes – only then might we feel a little less dead. Play our cards right & we might even evolve into cardiopulmonary gamma ray bursts,
Homosapien explosions that release more love energy than anything in recorded

Justin Karcher

Justin Karcher lives in Buffalo, NY. His recent works have appeared in The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, Fuck Fiction, The Sirens Call, Melancholy Hyperbole, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Mixtape Methodology, and Maudlin House. You can find him on Twitter (@justin_karcher).

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, April 19th, 2015.