Featured Editor: Jordan Makant

BEST WORST THING

Perhaps the worst thing about losing you is
the realization that my first reader is gone.
Perhaps Bukowski would be proud
of my graduation to true writer-hood –
after all, I don’t have to read it to my wife
or my girlfriend or my boyfriend
or my parents or to anybody at all anymore;
perhaps that means I am finally ready
to sit down in front of that selfish screen
and start writing. Perhaps
real art comes from the pain
I thought I had felt but actually hadn’t
until now. I’ve felt it now.
Perhaps now I will be good enough –
not for you, but maybe for this next draft
I no longer have anyone to show.


LATE NIGHT WITH MYSELF AND A FOUR CYLINDER

Sometimes I like to get in the car
and drive, just drive.
No music, no podcasts, no NPR,
just me and the road and the whine of the engine –
second gear, third gear, fourth, fifth
if I know the area, know
there aren’t any cops around to ruin my fun.
But it’s not about speed, my time on the road;
it’s not about an end goal or how fast I get there.
Or maybe it is: maybe the end goal is peace
of mind and the movement of the car –
30, 40, 70 miles per hour –
is my mind’s way of getting there,
a metaphorical sense of progression
as profound as it is profoundly stupid.
I drive anyway, because it makes me feel better
or because it helps me think. Probably
because it’s the one time I can be alone, probably
because it’s the one time I can just be.

When I drive, my mind clears, and when my mind
clears sometimes I think of you.
(You being the first girl I had a crush on,
the first girl I kissed, the first girl I had sex with.
You being the first person who betrayed my trust,
the first person who convinced me to trust again.
You being the person who got me drunk
and maybe added a little extra something in there.
You being my mother and father and sister;
all the little voices in my head telling me
to act better, do better, be better.
You being God, if he’s there
or gives a shit or is just there to watch the fireworks.
You being me and the way I think,
the experiences I’ve had, the regrets, the hate,
the fear I live with like Sisyphus and his boulder.
You being all of us, I guess, but mostly
just me, or sometimes a cute girl I see
at the gas station as I swing past
doing 30 in a 25 like a total bad ass.)

When I think of you on those drives I stop
just being. Or maybe that’s what being is:
an angsty, overly-emotional, overly-
existential, overly-wordy breakdown.
Or maybe being is just allowing yourself
to acknowledge that the feelings are there;
that yes they are profoundly stupid but
that guess what they’re profound too and maybe
you are just like everyone else; maybe
everyone else has these feelings, so maybe
you aren’t crazy after all, and, hey,
that’s a pretty good feeling, right?

I went driving the other day,
tried, tried, tried to clear my mind.
Instead, I saw you. I waved,
but I don’t think you saw me.
You were driving, just driving,
the other way, away from me,
away from the drives we used to share;
the lives now only connected by the stars,
the moon, the quiet, sad whine of our engines,
the quiet, sad being of me and you and anyone
in this awesome, lonely, stupid, profound world.


FINAL ROAD TRIP

car stops moving,
metal stops crumpling,

find a way to open the doors,
finally hear sirens coming.

want nothing more
than to see you, hold you,

be held by you.
want you to make it better.

but the metal is bent
at impossible angles,

oil is leaking, thirsting for a spark;
stop myself from calling you,

call someone, anyone else,
feel the memories of you and me

and this now unmade thing
burning away, becoming ash.


I HAVE KNOWN THESE STREETS*

I have known them happily:
walking, skipping, running,
hand in hand
with the girl I loved, holding
the dog I adored, the boy I admired.

I have known them angrily:
walking, driving, storming,
hands, bloody hands
shoved into pockets,
clenched into fists, gripping onto hate.

I have known them sadly:
walking, stumbling, crawling,
dragging my feet,
mourning the loss
of friends, lovers, family, you.

I have known them dismally:
worried about what comes next,
what I can do, meaning nothing;
not caring.

I have known the people, the places:
smiled at them, laughed with them,
loved them,
hated them,
grown with them.

I do not want to know these streets.
I want to leave, get away,
go somewhere else,
anywhere
away from here.

There are too many memories,
too much joy, too much pain, too many
experiences I wish I
could take back,
to want to stay here.

I have known these streets;
these streets have known me.
I hate them. I love them.
They are my home.

 

*Originally published in Cantos, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s student-only literary magazine, this was the very first poem I ever published.


Bio: Jordan Makant is a senior History major with a minor in Creative Writing at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He has previously been published in Cantos, LRU’s literary magazine, received the first place poetry award for the 2015/16 academic year, and has also been published in Rat’s Ass Review, The Main Street Rag, and Winston-Salem Writer’s Poetry in Plain Sight. Jordan is currently working on what he hopes will become his first chapbook.

In addition to being a poet, Jordan is incredibly passionate about the arts more generally; to that end, he helped co-found the arts charity the Hickory Playground, a theatre arts focused charity that brings a 48-hour theatre festival/contest to Hickory, North Carolina, every July. This is done to raise awareness of the immense talent in the region, to raise up the art of those talented writers and actors, and to raise financial support for arts programs in local high schools. At the inagural event in July 2016, the Hickory Playground was able to raise over $6,000; half went to the art department of St. Stephen’s High School and half went to the art department of Hickory High School.

The second Hickory Playground will take place on July 22, 2017, 7PM, at the SALT Block’s Drendel Auditorium in downtown Hickory, NC. Go to hickoryplayground.com to learn more.

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