What was friendship in the plague days
We were friends with the shit-filled paper bag.
It felt nice to be at home in semen, comfortable
to get peed on by strange dogs.
But I mostly wanted to touch your penguin, to pry apart
his beak and to pop pictures of you into his throat.
She didn’t have red hair, and that disappointed him greatly.
Every day it was the same: red floor, red pasta,
red handprints on the walls, red food dye in the bath water,
red chemically altered non-hormonal cheese in his cat’s bowl.
I took care of his bathroom scares. I cut his hair while he slept
to prevent vines from stretching around his throat.
He was our friend under compost conditions only.
He was our friend when snorting crushed miracle cereal.
Things happened then they changed into squirrels.
Squirrels filled our hearts. Squirrels filled our hampers with fur.
Squirrels dripped into us, and out of us, until mustard-yellow
discharge slid into our mouths
and we gargled.
You’ve got to glitch it back together
You’ve got to stutter
in the hail storm, when the windows all pomp and flash
let flecks of dehydrated teeth in through screens.
Slap down directly in my lap
with foreskins, tongues, lab coats filled with dollar bills.
Let my phone vibrate out:
these waves bring your voice, your text, your image,
from one point in time to deep between my feet.
You got to mass mail dumpsters
like the plague is back and the plague is pissed.
You disconnect in the burnings
when our clocks overheat,
when the cards glitch into stationary
and only one face zooms, only one image slacks.
Varied in the pixilation when we enhance,
I know the gap between digital and optical
is mainly in speaking.
Taste it in the fake storm.
You got to call collect long distance and gather in your flesh
before the fire gets near.
I’m modified and broadcast.
I know every jingle by heart.
Drew Kalbach is from Philadelphia. He is the author of two ebooks, one chapbook, and some poems in journals both online and in print. He writes about contemporary poetry and media for The Actuary.