My education was so thorough
I still can’t say miniskirt
afraid of the consequences of revealing
I am very afraid of assholes in public spaces
but once I see one I go on with my day
of ordering a sandwich made of question marks.
I think all drag queens look like my mother
and have the clarity of Niels Bohr
which is to say as a rule I am ethically ill at ease.
I get the urge to ask people what they do
the way you might get the urge to eat your popcorn
at the worst horror picture you are unable
by your lack of footing, to judge. To this day
I am unable to go to the public bathroom
without that fake orchestra from the Holocaust
blasting a polka in my ears — too bad.
I keep my cool when I am about to die
I’ve had 4 heart attacks in the last 3 weeks.
I hide the hell out when someone’s getting murdered.
I vote out of a mixture of fear and sadness
and feel obliged to step onto a landmine
I very well see. A child stares at me malignant
and always from some window on the other end
of the earth, from a room in the insane asylum
from the house of the evil Samaritan
sharpening his tools to the tattoo of rain . . .
Sébastien Bernard is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He completed his MFA at The New School with a prize for excellence in poetry. Originally from Turkey and France, he has also lived in Mozambique, where he taught English a few summers ago. An excerpt from his novel (in progress) The Doldrums is forthcoming in The Evergreen Review. His poems also appear in Public Pool.