“If you’re happy and you know it” by Nicholas Alti

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grow more hands

if you’re happy and you know it

become a monstrosity

 

If you’re happy

and you know it

and you really want to show it

give me the skeleton

of everything that’s gone extinct

 

give me

the fossil of optimism

 

If you need water

or will wilt

and you know it

sit still

and pray for water

 

feel yourself wilting

and wilt

 

Look into the night sky

tell it

I want to put you in a bowl

as if you were a fish

to illuminate my room

as if you were the night sky itself

 

Look into the night sky and offer it all of your hands

 

If I’m happy, I don’t know it

I keep growing hands

reaching them out

for something to grab and hold and

gently, over time, make warm

 

I don’t know why I look at a constellation

and imagine it burning

wanting to place it in my face

so you can watch the inferno of catastrophe

leak from me

 

I don’t know it yet

if when I learn alchemy

I can twist my face

into an apology

but I can certainly turn myself

wax, mold myself

into the shape of sadness

wearing a crown of strange flowers

 

and I can melt into a viscous creek

of fantastic colors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas Alti writes with and about trigeminal neuralgia, depression, addiction, and an affinity for strangeness. He’s an assistant editor for fiction and poetry at The Black Warrior Review. There’s more of his work at Dream Pop, Hypertrophic Press, The Hunger, Pretty Owl Poetry, and elsewhere.