My Friend Stephen Turned Himself into this Title

by Chrissy Rye-Rye

1.
KNOCK-KNOCK, no one's there, everyone's sense
of self has been colonized and contaminated by pop music.
There is nothing left to do but write myself into a new,
trophy-shiny identity. I write, I chew ice. I am part Cherokee
Indian. I am upside-down.
I jump out of the page, ready

to reveal my new self to the world: Here I is!, my best
Buckwheat impression. You are the only one left who is literate.
I should have turned myself into a billboard for Corona like my buddy
did but then again I like a thing or two left to the imagination.
Every person I know is an object. The feminists have a field day
with this. When they look at me they don't know what to do--
they donate me to the fox-faced high school English teacher,
Miss Lonely. Miss Lonely is a pseudonym; her real name is
Judith. Judith would have spent three class periods searching for
meaning behind me but she has already turned herself into
a can of beets. Deciphering poetry is not normally the

forte of a can of beets. Judith turned herself into a can
of beets because she has not gotten laid in a long time.
The community rallies, Think of the children! The children
have mostly turned themselves into knock-knock jokes and
shalach manos baskets. We live in a largely Orthodox Jewish
community. Shalach manos baskets are not interested in English
class or poetry. They forgot most of their English somewhere
between your ribcage and sandy-skinned foot. Frankly, I'm not surprised.
When we were people, your presence would also make me forget my--

My brothers are now Mexican jumping beans. My father is
a Zamboni. My mother turned herself into your bottom dollar. She
lives in Vegas now. We got evicted from our house. I live on paper over
shoulders now, prime real estate for poetry. A boy I didn't know once
told me that he used to read my poetry over my shoulder in English class.

2.
I get tired of being a poem. I know a lot about psychology. I turned
myself into every personality disorder in the DSM.
The morbidity backfired and I got stuck with
only hypochondria. I turned myself into cognitive dissonance and had
to change half of my opinions. Most of them were about you. I changed
myself again, right away, into the Whitney Museum. I didn't want
any obsolete ideas about who I was, what I represented, who I belonged to.
People saw the pieces inside me and forgot about most of them.
I wasn't used to being an exhibitionist.
I wasn't used to being attractive. I didn't know what to do
with the donations. I asked my friend Charity about it;
she said, refurbish, renovate. I stayed up all night in myself
after everything else had closed, holding a flashlight and looking
for things to make better. I took the elevator up
and then down and then I found some things I
don't think I was supposed to find,

I found postmodernism, I found shit-eating grins, I found
my grandpa's parking spot in Pennsylvania and then I found
love in a deep, dark corner. I lost. I crawled out the window.

3.
When I was a human, I had to walk four miles to English class
to see my psychologist. She told me I had an obsession with stealing
intimacies
. My psychologist turned herself into Unhealth. I see her
a lot more often now. I only love people between four and five a.m.
Today I turned myself into the memory I never had. All of the people I was
once in love with turned themselves into science projects. I studied
them tempestuously. I never knew you can make textiles from banana skins!

Everyone in love went through a phase where they turned themselves
into pots and covers. I grew tiresome and turned myself into a Day Off.
I flew to Poland and everything turned black and white. Judith was there!
We had a two-night stand. Both times I thought it was the last. The Eastern
European waiters asked us, Still or sparkling water? She said still, I said
six-dollar champagne. I knew it wasn't going to work. I turned myself
into the smoke that Bill Clinton (allegedly) didn't inhale. She turned herself
into a cigar. It was none of my business. My mother wrote me a letter
from Vegas, telling me to turn myself into Equilibrium. She said,
the world will be fine without you for a few hours. I tried
but didn't feel like myself. Then I realized I couldn't read
the letter; you were the only one in the world left who is literate.
I turned back into the poem. We went to see the three-euro opera in Vienna,
tying scarves onto the balcony to reserve standing-room places. I lost

my scarf. It was around your neck. You said, don't ever feel bad
for thinking anything because you can't help it.
The trouble was,
everything I thought ended up on the page. And every time I cried it got
the paper wet. And pretty soon no one was able to read me at all.
So I turned into a novelty T-shirt, and all it said was Nobody's ugly
after two a.m.
Those were the only words left. God turned into a religious
compromise: we'll raise her Catholic so we won't have to pay for her bat
mitzvah.
I went to the ice-skating rink to visit my father. He would
have told me, communication is dead. I watched him clean the ice for hours, slow
and meditative. I went back to the Whitney Museum to board up all the windows.
You turned into the sun that creeped in before me, warming the bed.

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