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Travel South by Gabby Bess

Travel South by Gabby Bess

TRAVEL SOUTH by Gabby Bess

The window to my bedroom

muffles louder things

that are happening just on the other side.


Though I know that we are just animal machines

that will one day leave

a final task uncompleted,


I want to gather a crowd of strangers to smash and break objects

with their hands.


Through this experience the strangers will create a shared memory

and when everything is broken they can turn to one another and

say, “Remember when things were whole?”


After I incite the crowd of strangers into smashing and breaking

objects with their hands I want to encourage them to just hug and

feel calm.


I want to feel soft next to a body that feels soft

A body that breathes like I breathe:

In and out


I remember when we used to lay on your bed,

stacked lovers,

and breathe into each other’s mouths as practice

for when we would inevitably have to live and survive

underwater together


When I get like this,

bathed in the nostalgia of events obfuscated by time,

I could probably walk around my neighborhood

and remember small things about you for

upwards of 6 hours


Now, I appreciate the emotions

that you have toward me

(Of goodwill and continued interest in how I spend my days)

but I wish it could be love

I want to make it love: A concrete feeling

of laying side by side,

not touching,

but knowing that you are there as I am alone,

as we are

being pushed apart

at a rate of 5 miles per hour

by a migrating pod of whales.


Every year, starting in the late summer,

the whales begin to travel south


and every year,

the whales move us further

away from each other.

We are suspended in the sea.


This cannot be helped.

This is simply the result

of evolutionary processes.


It is simple, like this:

My stomach goes up and down because I am breathing

and I am experiencing reality because I am breathing


On my own I cannot gather large crowds to form

Nor can I influence their collective actions or emotions

I do not have the charisma

But I can experience reality without breathing

for up to one minute and, for example,

I know this truth:


I can see a picture of an open mouth

and know

that is is Sasha Grey’s open mouth


Alone With Other People by Gabby Bess is now available from Civil Coping Mechanisms.



Richard Chiem

About The Author

Richard Chiem

Richard Chiem is the author of You Private Person. He lives in Seattle, WA.

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