I tried to mow the yard this evening but the lawn mower wouldn’t start. It started twice actually then died both times after. I don’t like pulling on lawn mower cords, and I had to do this several times. I don’t like pulling on the cord, because of how many times I’ve pulled on lawn mower cords before, and the lawn mower hasn’t started. The anxiety before pulling the cord is the worst. It is like anticipating confrontation, or failure. It is the headspace of expected complication. Even pulling the cord seems like an awkward, unhuman motion to me, and, really, I never wanted the mower to start.

When I was a child, I would pray all the way to the mower. I would ask for the mower not to start, or for the sky to turn gray and milky. Just so I could run inside and say, “look, it’s going to rain! I can’t mow if it’s going to rain; it will ruin the equipment!” Then I would stand behind the mower dismally and pull on the cord.

I was always moody like this, and have been this way all my life. I am this way, because I constantly want to move on to other things that are more important to me. I assume that if I could spend all of my energy on the things that interest me most, that my life would be so much more special and rewarding. That I would give everything I have to life, and life would open up to me like a box full of some limitless and satisfying medication.

I have no way of knowing this, though. I don’t know if I would enjoy spending that much time on the things that I find interesting, or if my interests would change completely to other things.

I don’t even know if my interests are for the things that intrinsically interest me, that I am most judgemental toward, or if my interests are just for the things I suddenly feel I do not have enough time for, and feel incapable of perfecting.

Why can’t I be a dog in the grass instead of a human trying to cut it?

When I came inside earlier, I noticed the neighbor was eating popcorn on the porch. The smell mixed with the heat bothered me. All I could think about was a cornhusk or a kernel of corn getting stuck in my teeth. My stomach turned warm and sour. Who would eat something so greasy today, I thought?

I really am critical and shitty like this all the time, but I haven’t done anything as enjoyable or relaxing as popping a bag of popcorn and sitting on a porch all evening. The sun has set so low now that I can see the small orangey ball of it in the distance, where my blinds don’t meet the bottom of the window.

The glare from the sun is insane. It reflects around the edges of my glasses the way a microwave sparks with a gold-plated dish in it; and I can see the replication of the glare in weird, symmetrically-distanced places on the laptop in front of me.

The cicadas are loud, also. They make the music on the laptop difficult to hear. They start quietly every night like this, then separate into small groups with different, harmonizing time-signatures. How do people ever get out of bed again in the morning, after hearing this? I would rather be a cicada and sleep underground.

I would climb a tree and scream loudly on the side of it all night then leave a shell of my body for small children to tear apart. That would be my entire lifespan. You would hear my lifespan like a loop of synchronized noises. An imitation, really. You would hear me as a massive imitation of all the other noises around you. You would close your eyes and listen to the imitations like a round of musical measures layered together at once, and it would be strange and beautiful; and I would become lost and indistinguishable inside your head.

I am going to go to sleep, now. The sun has gown down, and, anyway, I am tired.

Someone else will have to mow the yard this week. I have class in the mornings.I hope the city doesn’t charge us again. My days have gotten busy, and my nights longer.


Chris Barton’s work has appeared in Hobart, Funhouse, Entropy, Word Riot, Metatron, and Potluck Mag. He did a project on George Washington Carver in the 5th grade. He enjoys Frank O’hara, Lydia Davis, and Osamu Dazai books. He sometimes uses twitter: @chrisnbarton. A thousand hugs.

Art by David Delgado, “Memories of Questioned Kindness”

Monday, September 26 2016