"A Poem About Being Sad" by Ethan Palmer

I let the rain screw up my hair, swaying on a corner,
humming in tune with an empty Subaru's engine, left on.

I think of how horrible the ants must have it right now,
and whether or not they care that their lives must be horrible.

It doesn't matter what day it is.

The dark clouds rock the moon like nervous new parents,
and I consider going home and drinking stale coffee,
but decide not to, at least not yet.

There is a Stayman Winesap apple in my pocket
that I took from my parents' house, that I will forget to eat.


I thought I saw you once, in my periphery,
and the following scant seconds of hope
made me sad for two weeks.

I did not bathe or leave my apartment,
and almost failed all my college classes.

I played WWF No Mercy on an emulator in the dark,
smoked pot, sobbed, looked at strangers' Facebook pages
for hours before finally deciding not to talk to them.
I slept for 18 hour intervals.

During this time I left my girlfriend without giving reason.

She was a wild and brilliant artist. She did nothing wrong.

She gave me a painting of a heart shaped like a
cube that I will abandon in an apartment in Ohio.


I told her it must mean the metaphorical heart is
like a Rubix cube, tragically impossible to figure
out without cold and algorithmic calculation,
which leads only to the abject plainness within.


“No,” she said, “that isn't what I was going for at all.”

She taught me how to listen to Leonard Cohen
and feel smaller than anything ever,
an art form I have since mastered,
and I regret never thanking her for giving me that.


I thought I saw you again, recently, and I did not become sad.


The fact that I did not become sad made me sad,
and I broke up with my girlfriend soon after this happened
for reasons seemingly unrelated. 


You visit me often in dreams, always looking hungover,
always in the dress I loved.

You tell me that it's all my fault: not just your death,
but all death, all suffering, every last ounce of dear god no.

Teeth dislodge one by one, and soon enough my entire body
explodes into disgusting chunks throughout what must be
my own personal black hole that lifts itself from a burning forest.

Whatever is left of me is visited by cosmic horrors
manifested in balls of gas.They tell me everything will soon
be gone, and that this is fine because of very specific knowledge
that I cannot remember when I wake up.


I blink seven times, counting each blink
with the gilded sense of purpose I attach to most things.

An old man gets in the Subaru and leaves.

My clothes are soaked, but I feel like I am naked
and made of cotton candy.
I walk to my car and stand outside it,
pressing the unlock button repeatedly,
for just how long I will always be uncertain.