Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night
for Ted Meyer
Today darling I am risingfrom the lavender bathtubof self-loathing. I don't take drugsto shut up I take offmy pants when I get homeand I stay there, red cup fullof cigarettes from heaven, ghostsof all my friends between my toes.I imagine them pouring vodka all overeach other wearing glitter.The vision is closing in like a tight dress.Meanwhile the moonfills gray-green. The shops in the village areleaking bodies. Spilt oil rolls overcash like hands, some glorious bullshit.What bothers me is the weightof clouds under your fire escape, yourhand strange lines I feeland can't, one shared breathof all the bulldogs in the park,how I don't notice an inch belowsomething wriggling in dark warmthas if love or hunger never countedand I was never meant to last. The nervousbreakdown doesn't end.It was only sleeping. And comesback good and restedsmearing its eye boogers all over.Says, You're an arrogant prick.I say, Fuck you nervous breakdown.It says, Open the curtains and lookdown at all the people orYou may share your bed only with me.I accidentally say OK.When I can't sleep I smokea dark cigarette and keep the curtains dosedso I can lose track of where I amand who is here with me. I cut the facesout of magazines and pile themin the middle of my hardwood floor.In the distance, that good oldrock 'n' roll. This isn't simpleif you want it to be. What my countrydoes for me is enterme like a room, becomes the furniture,the wall, the painting on the wall,the white spot where painting used to sing.Singing enters me, becomes the window.Baby think of my skinas the best part of the song. Take meby the ribs and lay me at the bottomof a dirty creek where I canget a good view.
“Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night” from OTHER PEOPLE’S COMFORT KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT: by Morgan Parker.
Published by Tin House on July 13, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Morgan Parker.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the young adult novel Who Put This Song On?; and the poetry collections Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and Magical Negro, which won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. Parker’s debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.”
“Hilarious and hard-hitting . . . it ripples with energy, insight, and searing music.”
—Tracy K. Smith, author of Wade in the Water
"I love these poems by Morgan Parker. They tell everything exactly like it is, and they don’t let us off the hook. . . . They hit you with the authority and moral clarity of Langston Hughes, and have the omnivorous eye of Frank O’Hara."
"I can and have read Morgan Parker’s poems over and over. They make me high and think like this: Her mind and her thoughts can go anywhere in a poem. . . . There are piles of masterpieces here."