Matthew Feinstein: Two Fraternity Poems for Bad Survivalist

Bad Survivalist: Matthew Feinstein

Portrait of Pledge Being Left in the Middle of Nowhere on Shrooms

It’s Fall. The Pledge Master has me blindfolded
in his car. We are going somewhere. A place I hope
that’s not too hard for my mother to find. But I can
already feel the rumble of winding roads beneath me,
and although I’m mostly blind, specks of
moonlight scrape my eyes as if stopping by
to taunt me; the sky is too pretty tonight
for this to be happening.

I ask the Pledge Master where we’re going
and he sends back a thunderclap of laughter.
The trees, he says. The car halts. My breath
now smells of more than fungal earth.
I can’t remember how dignity tastes.

The Pledge Master’s fingers slither
through my hair. A yank,
and I’m hugging the mud
like I do my mother.

You’re going to leave me here,
aren’t you?

The Pledge Master says nothing.

Aren’t you? Aren’t you? You aren’t
going to leave me here,
are you?

The car starts and the Pledge
Master is no longer listening.

The dirt murmurs:                   My mind now chants:
Don’t worry,                           O’ God,
you’ll fade                               I’m going to
into me soon.                          die out here.

Beach Haze

Sand burrows into blisters
on my toes

& I howl.

I howl until my vibration knits
itself into the crashing waves.

The brothers’ laughter claws,
low-pitched & hellish,
in my ears.

I want to give up.
I want acceptance

I sprint. They pelt me
with oranges.

Will I bruise? If I do,
does that mean the body
knows this is wrong, too?

One brother demands
I bark.              I refuse.

He bellows—
the stink of guilt
hides in his teeth.

Then I will chuck
a fucking watermelon
at your head.

Brotherhood shouldn’t feel like this.
I am so close to belonging.

For now,
I am obedient:

When the Master
says roll over,

I will.

Good pledge.

Good dog.

Good bitch.

Matthew Feinstein is a neurodivergent poet from Tracy, California. He is pursuing an MFA at Randolph College, starting in winter 2020. His work has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Macqueen’s Quinterly, Rejection Letters, Stone of Madness Press, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of Plum Recruit and just released his debut chapbook, Breeds of Breath (Alien Buddha Press, 2020). He once appeared on court television because his roommate sued him over a dispute about gum.


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