Poetry: Bad Aesthetic by Max Lasky
Max Lasky’s new poem, “Bad Aesthetic,” lands like granite, like stone. “for the fifteen minutes you were dead,” the poem explains—it’s all burning, the funeral is near, but still the fireflies go.
Helpless on the carpet, harmed yet harmless,
you couldn’t say if your life played back
from one reel that captured each second of it:
the five a.m. ambulance roaring ambient,
a residential road;—the Narcan in your nose
the Narcan in your nose; your mother in the drive
crying, bath towel wrapped around her head.
It was unexpected, you said, the threshold
at the end like a wind with nothing in it
for the fifteen minutes you were dead.
When you woke in the back to a framed sky
flashing red, it was as if your lungs broke open
into wings, your vision revolved clear again.
Later that night, Paris burning, the earth burning,
this little world on a wick, I watched lightning bugs
short-circuit around me. On the phone you said
everybody should get one chance to retract
some great, intractable mistake; then mentioned
the shrooms we ate after noon in the Pine Barrens,
lost for hours as we wrote two novels
by night, walking the paths we couldn’t find.
Didn’t we make a pact to not die in that town?
I’m wondering now if the Polaroids pinned
to your walls turned blank as paper napkins,
if it happened fast, a set of camera flashes?
All this, and stillness, and you, left lying harmless.
Who placed the wings inside your chest, the heart
inside your skull? Stop planning your funeral.
You have a life, a marvelous weight of marble.
Max Lasky is a poet from New Jersey, currently living in Maryland where he is a MFA candidate at the University of Maryland.