In Order to Commit Suicide cover

In Order to Commit Suicide

Jason Morphew

Copyright © 2012 Jason Morphew. All rights reserved.

At the Disneyland Hotel

I found myself
in the lobby
with Goofy—
two costumes
Fame and Obscurity,
Animal and Man.
We stood in silence
in our manufactured faces,
wordlessly acknowledging
the security
at the exits.

Charlie Sheen

—"Back at the Plaza, a delusional and high Charlie went off his rocker and started spewing the n-word…"

Reaching the top,
the bottom appeared
more clearly than before—
so clearly it obsessed him.
He became naked,
powdered his face,
screamed Inward!
in the privacy of his public room.
Later, when the cops came,
he shone so whitely
they covered him with blankets,
gathering him further
into the privilege
one pays dearly to escape.


All we can do
is help each other
Did I help you, Lois?
The soles of your feet
turned purple
as your half-brother muttered
that you'd held on so long
to see your great-niece and great-nephew
They're grown now, Lois.
One of them is overripe.
No one who loved him
saw the change of color
in his skin.
You and I would have
given all
to save him—
but there's no one here
who makes that kind of bargain.
There's just a lot of stories
about politics and love.


I am riding a Greyhound bus
from Memphis to Nashville,
concerned about the integrity
of my coffee cup,
which slowly leaks eighteen-year-old
Highland Park,
a gift from my wife's publisher
for debuting at number one
on the New York Times Bestseller List.
She rides a jet in first class and is
almost already in Nashville.
It is 9:12 am.
My wife is not yet thirty years old.
I am thirty-seven.
It was lucky I was late.
I got an emptier bus.
So many travel this route
on Fridays an overflow coach is required.
I exceed, I am too much.
Here's my problem: if I drink
the entire bottle of scotch
it will shock my wife,
and it will be rather selfish,
though her publisher only sent this brand
because he and I drank it together
in Berlin
as my wife sipped Riesling,
making everybody money.
There are other problems.
I have lost a library book
I need for my dissertation.
It contains ingenious marginalia
that might have made me famous
for something other than athletic drinking.
In Memphis we stayed at the Peabody,
the South's Grand Hotel.
Everyone was hammered.
That was the dress code.
Now, in carpeted seats behind me,
black youths debate the virtues
of the Bonaroo Music Festival.
I thought only fools liked jam bands;
I thought blacks could not be fools.
I am a snob on a Greyhound,
sipping scotch from a disintegrating cup.
I am famous for drinking.
This is a limousine.
The driver carries a chauffeur's license.
The bus is now mostly empty,
but we will take on other riders
who will frustrate our expectations
as we have frustrated
anyone who has loved us
to be surprised.

The Death of Loved Ones

Why does the death of loved ones
shatter us more completely
when we're young?
No one's ever thought
he'll live forever,
that he's perfect or he knows it all—
death, shame, and stupidity
are merely worn in different styles,
the most popular of which
is Wise Adult.
Misunderstood youth doesn't bother me
as much as does the narcissism
we lose
a little more of every day.
How dare a loved one die
when we're almost rich and famous?
If we absorb this outrage
into our heroic narrative
something of the dead
loved one lives on
a while in our insanity.
It's insane to live
according to a fantasy
of living.
We're all insane, especially you,
fantasizing this is not a poem, fantasizing
it is,
fantasizing me,
who today cut his hair with Christmas lights.
I wish the dead could read,
the dead are my demographic,
the dead are not concerned
with prosody or truth.
Perhaps we turn
so humble, perhaps we turn
to "faith" and reasonable careers
because our childhood fantasies
reveal themselves
to be not only foolish
and commonbut also fatal.
Then we pour poison-grain
into chopped hour-glasses
to dream control
over death of dreams,
speeding a fatality on
we didn't know existed,
but not so quickly we'd recall
the specific tear shape
that finally did us in.
Dictators, adored at first,
become despised, deposed,
and hungered for again.
It's not that we learn too much
to be as arrogant as we used to be.
It's that we gather the wrong knowledge
for strengthening the fantasy
that leads on to success.
We weaken into responsibility,
into paying debts.
We're polite to fools.
We waste our lives with fools.
We're ashamed
of the dishonest nature of our shame,
of how we wait
in lines chuckling with strangers
as if our fuzzy genitalia didn't rot
like a mouse
between the oven and the wall,
a dead and secret mouse
whose living and more careless friend
eats the cheese
we tentatively explored.
Eat my dick like a rat does cheese,
I believe Too Short says somewhere.
Or is that Eazy-E?
Though he's no longer in the charts,
Too Short sill lives
I saw him on TMZ the other day,
exiting a bar,
laughing and slapping
a delighted woman's ass,
which promptly vanished
into shadows
of his luxury SUV.
Too Short might be broke,
what he has with that woman in shadows
might be very sad,
but there was a time
when that would not have occurred to me.
I wasn't less wise then—
I grasped the essentials,
that I was born to die.
All I've learned
is how to more effectively
It's like I joined a cult
of humility,
memorizing arbitrary tales
in a reasonable mythology
of a meaningless survival.
The Tea Party appeals to me
for reasons they do not intend.
How one can dismiss
only part
of everything
lies beyond my powers of apprehension.
Jesus freakery is more interesting
than the Scientific Method
and almost certainly more sound.
When I seem wryly pessimistic
it's because that's the
nonlockupable way
to deny reality.
No one believes
you don't exist
if you tell them so
over awful wine.
Only tyrants go far enough,
and they don't go far for long.
Tyrants seem evil
because we only consider
one or two at a time.
If we were a race of tyrants,
if we weren't contentedly tyrannized,
tyranny would look as kissable
as liberal democracy.
Perhaps not—
there's no retirement
from softly compounding shame,
which is our life's work.
It inspires all our little
daily suicides.
Compounding shame,
compounding death—
we want it slow,
but we want it.
So when a loved one dies
and we're not young
it doesn't seem so bad.
Maybe we're relieved
there is one dream
likely to come true.

For Waylon

Those people in the tabloids
behind the stars,
human shadows whose shadows
especially leave no trace—
those people know
the dark side of fame,
like an infant
knows the blurriness around her.
Incredibilities fan out
like any connection hungoverly explored:
foot-bone connected to the shoe-bone
shoe-bone connected to the dirt-bone
and so on—
but a famous man knows
the least of fame.
Who can comprehend the element that sustains him?
No, singer. It is we
who breathe next to fame
who describe it best,
and because we do what we can
it's all we do, every day.

Listening to Loretta

One must be alive
in order to commit suicide.
The dead do not plan
and so forth.
I have lived my life
in undermines,
next to nothing,
mind full of cancer.
My third eye shines in darkness.
It is all you see of me
as I go
ever further

Physical Comedy

Your death is funny,
a wrong turn
onto a road that isn't there.
You misjudge the distance
between your body
and hereafter
and it's funny, the little slip
that splits you,
the little slip that stops you,
the little slip
from everything there is.
Dick Van Dyke the Grim Reaper,
John Ritter the Grim Reaper,
Jesus Christ the Grim Reaper
of the Grim Reaper,
every decomposing bone
making snapping sounds at once,
every human face passing
through windshields
into every oak tree in the world.
This is a comedy
because the ending
is happening.

After I Write My Dissertation

I shall write
a series of mystery novels
starring the Traveling Wilburys.
They will all have their respective areas
of expertise—
Roy Orbison is a zombie
with the power
to freeze murderers
with his crystal voice.
Tom Petty can chew
through any substance
with his diamond teeth.
Jeff Lynne baffles,
disappears behind
his Beard of Invisibility.
George Harrison's accent
separates evildoers' skin
from their bone and tissue.
Dylan has no discernable talent.
He spends the mystery
drinking brandy and ridiculing
what everyone else is doing,
saying things like
"Great idea, guys," and "Smooth move."
"Dylan, you prick,"
the man who grooms
Jeff Lynne's beard
during down time back at the mansion
is known to say.
But on the penultimate page
Dylan always prevents
a Wilbury from walking off a ledge
or into a wood pulper,
surprising the others
with his capacity
for love.
Then they sum up everything
that's happened
in a song
just north of mediocre
whose existence
is a miracle,
like entering a nursing home
and finding someone
you know.

Deepwater Horizon

If we were cynical
and had given up the game
we would obscure our poems
with what passes now
for poetry.
We know the rage of futility,
we have writhed in various nets.
Hope relies on hopelessness.
We are never hopeless.

Deepwater Horizon II

The corpse flower opens,
the black South blackens,
the old snobbish accusations
of inferior beaches are confirmed.
I think of Ike, the truck driver
with whom my stepfather warred
on the road to Gulf Shores in the mid-80s—
the world was so lovely then
stupid men were forced to make disaster.
The world was so lovely then
stupid men were forced to make disaster.

Learning a Language

Everything is beautifully objectified,
simplified to the point of absurdity,
whose only requirement
is the absence of irony.
In this way, irony is arrogance,
arbitrary abuse
of privilege randomly acquired,
and absurdity is reasonable,
tender, a gentle hand
to help you on your way.

Jason Morphew

Jason Morphew was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He might die anywhere, really.