Jill M. Talbot
Retrial: If We Just Lay Here
If I just lay here
Let’s just lay here
If we just lay here
If you are the hero
I will be the bad guy
If I am the bad guy
You can be the hero
If we just lay here
In our superhero costumes
If we wear our costumes
We’re something else entirely
If we’re something else entirely
We’re not ourselves
If we are ourselves, someone will make us
The bad guys
If we aren’t guys, we’re worse than bad guys
If we’re monsters, we can hide from ourselves
But we can’t hide from monsters
When they’re under the bed
If the bad guy has a TV show, maybe he’s not a bad guy
If the bad guy is a comedian, maybe it was just a joke
If we lay under the bed, we can be heroes
If we play this game forever, we cannot die
If we cannot die, we’re heroes
If we can find a way out of the trap, the game will end
If the game ends, somebody will win
If the game ends, somebody will lose
If we just lay here, we’re in a time-out
If we just lay here
We just lay here
If they leave out
The jazz hands
If someone tell us
When to laugh
Cause there is no crying track
Yet. If we just lay here.
All dressed up to do the hokey-pokey,
Unable to fly over the rainbow when
The bomb hit. Shimmied between
Super Mario worlds, to be studied
Millions of years later like dust in a
Shag carpet. If you look into the stars,
You’re looking back to millions of
Years ago, when iridescence couldn’t
Fly, couldn’t trump the bomb, couldn’t
Prevent the fires—but lived in color,
Lived in iridescence. Feathers not
Suitable for flight. Not suitable for
Immortality. Not suitable for black
And white. Not suitable for children,
Scientists warn. In 160 million years,
Maybe someone will say something
Similar about us. Will you tell them
We tried to fly? Shitholes and reality
Stars were only a mutation? That an
iPhone camera could detect heartrates?
We mastered death but not fear? We
Trolled the environment with only tooth
Picks and carbon? We dressed in color
When we weren’t attending funerals.
We dressed in clothes, not feathers.
We weren’t racist. We weren’t fascists.
We dressed the part. We invented
The hokey-pokey. We turned the world
Around. Will you tell them that was
What we were all about?
The First Rule
Cinderella doesn’t live here anymore, Cinderella
is gone. Fight Club is in the season over from here;
crawling through mud with glass slippers goes the
heroine, but not the hero. According to Jung, these
cannot be the same. Self-discovery is for the virgin
with a heart two sizes too small.
Cinderella doesn’t live here, but the ugly sweater fits—
the glass slipper does not—not anymore—where you
live is what you eat—is who you are—is what you
wear. I’m not supposed to comment on the condom left
in the woods, or the hashtags left behind. I eat Santa’s
cookies and draw the stars in my veins. I make a paper
shoe in place of a heart.
Cinderella doesn’t live here anymore. The first rule of
fairy tales is: you don’t talk about fairy tales. Which
is to say you talk about nothing other than fairy tales—
the glass slippers must always fit the cutest foot—not
devoid of misfortune—misfortune is what makes the
dead beautiful. And the dead live in fairy tales.
Cinderella doesn’t live here—it’s winter and nothing
fits forever. Where the wolves are always just around
the bend, but always at bay, and the prince never
attends Fight Club except in-between takes. Wherever
Cinderella lives, tell her she’s forgiven for fitting in
in all the wrong places. Black eyes are only pretty in
the middle of the story. But in the woods, there are no
beginnings, middles or ends, only shoes leftover from
recycled fairy tales.
Cinderella lives somewhere; to die you have to have
lived. I’ve broken all rules but one. I stopped believing
in Cinderella when I started believing in redemption.
A moon—a dark blue sky—and shoes made for anyone
but the shoemaker’s wife.
Cinderella doesn’t live here—so we must. The first rule
is that somebody has to.
Jill M. Talbot attended Simon Fraser University for psychology before pursing her passion for writing. Jill has appeared in Geist, Rattle, Poetry Is Dead, The Puritan, Matrix, subTerrain, and The Tishman Review. Jill was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. Jill lives on Gabriola Island, BC.