Chris McCreary

The Great American Songbook: Blurred Lines

Teacher fell down. Teacher slipped off his little stool & now teacher flops on the floor & dribbles like a fish. From the back corner where you sit with AirPods hidden under your hood, you upload the video, soundtrack it with a beat you’ve lifted from your friend’s SoundCloud until teacher’s groans take the shape of a familiar melody overlaid with the chorus of “Scarborough Fair.” The chords are nothing new, but you’re on the threshold of manifesting something in the pressure of that extra click track.

It’s as simple as the pop song whose hook you’ve plagiarized without realizing how many times you’ve heard it floating from CVS speakers while you wailed to your mom about wanting an off-brand Transformer from the sale rack. Teacher once caught you cheating on an essay and gave a big speech, but teacher’s stopped moving & somebody else’s breath has already crept into your lungs.

Let a lamb drag itself along the hallway, spilling its innards across linoleum. You’ll rise to follow, your uncreased sneakers stepping over teacher on your way toward the double doors. Let the girl you’ve been negging all year in Physics pull at your sleeve, her spray tan streaked from weeping. To get free, we must replace one hologram with the next, shed the fatherly talk show host for the skin of a libidinal trickster. Something scrapes across the lockers. The fire alarm pulses over exit signs. The sun is brighter than you’d remembered, & your chorus begins to form a single syllable at a time.

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Chris McCreary is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is [ neüro / mäntic ] (Furniture Press 2014). He’s also the co-author, along with Mark Lamoureux, of Maris McLamoureary’s Dictionnaire Infernal (Empty Set Press 2017), a chapbook of collaborative poems based on a 19th century guidebook to various demons, devils, and other menaces.