Brand New Spacesuit

John Gallaher

And maybe I’m not such a good person after all. And how does one
even decide such a thing? The problem’s not lack of information,
it’s too much information. Ancillary, distancing noise. What matters
is in there, somewhere, innate among the bayonets and office parties.
Maybe it started when I was a kid, selling Christmas wreaths
door to door. You get this feeling, approaching a house,
whether it’s going to be a sale or not. And I was invariably wrong.
That’s how intuition works. This truth is self-evident, like fashion.
And in like fashion, I was supposed to shoot a cat once, a dying cat
that had drunk antifreeze. Because antifreeze tastes so good.
And I couldn’t. It’s that thing anyone’s supposed to do
and I had this wooden finger. Even the cat, looking up at me glazed
and dying, was asking me to do it. C’mon. Please. That’s not really
a measure of goodness, usually, more like competence, and how
in some eras that passes, close enough, and then the eras change,
such moody, flawed creatures. I’m looking out the window, January 1,
2018. Snow. Negative 12. Full sun. It’s like a commercial, it’s so beautiful.
Little diamonds scattered across a pristine expanse. It reminds me
that there’s a film over everything. It’s how there are things,
this repelling force that creates substance. I’m not actually sitting
in this chair, I’m hovering over it, as it’s hovering beneath me.
In a fancy world full of arrows and eros, two surefire ways to tell
if one is a good person or not, what have you done with your arrows
lately, your eros? We know things by their coverings in fundamental
ways, how I have favorite outfits I love to wear, and some
so favorite I never wear them, because wearing them is unworthy,
any occasion wouldn’t do, as the possibility of a more appropriate
occasion would have to then wait for laundry day. It’s too much
responsibility, our clothes, our lives, and yet here we are,
stepping up. History’s a collage. At least that’s what I’m saying
right now, as I find these pictures in magazines that call out.
They want another life too, and I can sympathize. It’s such
a difficult time. Like when I sit with my dog, talking, “I used to be
just like you,” I say. “And now look at me, all the way over here.”

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John Gallaher’s forthcoming collection, Brand New Spacesuit, will be out in spring 2020 from BOA editions. He lives in rural Missouri and co-edits the Laurel Review.

New England Review

Volume 39, Number 3 / 2018

Middlebury, Vermont

Middlebury College

Editor
Carolyn Kuebler

Managing Editor
Marcia Pomerance

Poetry Editor
Rick Barot

By publishing new fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that is both challenging and inviting, New England Review encourages artistic exchange and thought-provoking innovation, providing publishing opportunities for writers at all stages in their careers. The selection of writings in each issue presents a broad spectrum of viewpoints and genres, including traditional and experimental fiction, long and short poems, translations, criticism, letters from abroad, reviews in arts and literature, and rediscoveries. New England Review exists in a place apart from mass culture, where speed and information overload are the norm. At NER, serious writing is given serious attention, from the painstaking selection process through careful editing and publication, where finally the writer’s words meet up with a curious and dedicated readership.

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