you are in the diode archives diode v8n3



My 24 Hour Surveillance

My 24-hour surveillance is fucking awesome.
It is the king of kings, the Aryan Jesus.
“Drink me now,” my 24-hour surveillance screams
in a bar full of drop-dead alcoholics.
My 24-hour surveillance is the alien jewel
pushing clean electricity through your house’s sockets.
It is a barbeque that’s covered in lobster
and fueled by the skulls of guilty murderers.
At a monster truck rally, my 24-hour surveillance
is the only survivor. I digress.
My 24-hour surveillance is the reason you were born human,
not lizard. It is a parade of fire ants
marching between the Dalai Lama’s fingers.
It is Saturday. It is Sunday. My 24-hour surveillance
is the right-wing introvert chanting in his basement,
“every day should be the weekend.”
It is Men at Work live for the first time
before U.S. audiences. It is Men at Work forgotten by time
in God’s cruel waterwheel. Where were you
during my 24-hour surveillance? It remembers.
Just remember: in the fat of the saddest soybean
growing on a Nebraskan farm
is my 24-hour surveillance. In a jumbo jet
circling the globe without pilot or crew,
there’s one passenger: My 24-hour surveillance.
On your birthday, your cake is my 24-hour surveillance.
When you die, you don’t go alone;
it is my 24-hour surveillance, draped in white leather,
who jogs with you through God’s glowing doorway,
and it is my 24-hour surveillance
playing flute all night while you try to sleep.



Bald dentists require no haircuts,
that’s what my stepfather said one night
while repainting each needle
of the pine shrubs abutting our patio.
He was wearing his giant pair of pants,
a gift from General Douglas Macarthur,
for his years spent performing clown routines
at foreign and domestic military bases.
He never touched me, my stepfather,
but we fought a lot. I’m pretty sure
one night he tried to push his car
into my bedroom and suffocate me
with carbon monoxide. In retaliation,
I filled the fridge with a giant block of ice,
timed it correctly so when he opened the door
it would slide out and crush him.
My plan failed. He actually interpreted
the ice as a gift. (So proud he was
for any chance to chip ice into
artisanal cubes.) So, we went on like that,
him tying a moon-bound rocket
to my foot, me stuffing his loafers
with poisonous ants, him replacing
my toothbrush with a curling iron
at the last minute, me filling his spaghetti bowl
with near-molten pennies. One day,
while walking the dog together,
my stepfather and I had a burping contest,
and he won, and in his typical fashion
he rubbed it in quite a bit. I started thinking then
of a scheme involving mace or pliers,
maybe replacing his pliers with mace
in the hopes that he would blind himself
while fixing a cabinet, but no
I somehow don’t think that was it.  


Cody Ernst is an instructor at The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. His work is appearing in Best New Poets 2015Drunken BoatThe Minnesota Review, and elsewhere. He serves as a poetry editor of The Adroit Journal.