The Misery of Fun
I was holed up, purposefully, in my basement—the place where I hermit when I’m not obligated by work or another adult responsibility to leave and confront the outside world—when my wife came down the stairs, her heels clacking against the hardwood. She was holding her phone, staring at the screen. “So,” she said.
I knew that “so” and something was coming that I wasn’t going to enjoy hearing. “What is it?”
“So my dad texted me, and they’re planning a trip for next April and inviting us and the kids,” she said.
“Tell me it’s not Disney World.”
“Disney World isn’t that bad,” she said with a lilt in her voice. “It’ll be fun.”
My head dropped into my hands. My wife was going to use the kids, who are now teenagers, to try to convince me into willfully entering the lost circle of Dante’s Hell.
And all of this would be done in the name of “prescribed fun.”
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon—-which I probably am—-the idea of Disney World…hell, state of Florida alone, is enough to induce an anxiety attack. I’d rather be strung up by my toes and beaten with a broomstick than to stand in a 45 minute line next to a family of sunburned and overstuffed Midwesterners. There will be thousands of people with the same expectation: to have “fun” on the boat trip through It’s a Small World. Hop on, everybody, it will be a blast, everything you’ve waited to experience, so much fucking fun that you’ll pop like a fun-sucking tick.
“I’m not going,” I told my wife. “I don’t have enough Ativan to make it through a week there.” Continue reading ““The Misery of Fun” By Nathan Graziano”
Nosferatu in Florida
By Roy Bentley
Maybe vampires hear an annunciatory trumpet solo.
Maybe they gather at the customary tourist traps
like a blanket of pink flamingos plating a lake
and lake shore by the tens of thousands to drink.
The whole, tacky blood circus is theme-park stuff
and as Disneyesque as lifting the lid on a casket
to flit about sampling the inexhaustible offerings
of O Positive like the Sunday brunch at IHOP.
But if you had a booming, amphitheatrical voice
and had been recently rescued from the grave—
if you wore the republic of the dark like a cape
at Halloween, all bets would be off by the signage
for Paradise Tire & Service, a neon-green royal palm.
Bela Lugosi could materialize on a trailer-park lawn
and the locals would miss it, though lap dogs howled
as kingdoms rose and fell. You could say a kingdom
of fangs glows and drips red by the broken temples
and wide, well-lit aisles of Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
By the shadowed homeless holding up placards
hand-lettered in English, as if the kind-hearted
of the nations of the world spoke one language
and could be counted on to forgive misspellings,
bad syntax that announces one life is never enough.
The resurrection of the body is tough everywhere.
In the Sunshine State, despite eons to shake off loss,
a body carries the added burden of perpetual labor
and cyclical, inescapable debt. The dead know this.
(This poem first appeared in Shenandoah)
About the Author: Roy Bentley has published five books of poems, including Walking with Eve in the Loved City, which was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and is available from the University of Arkansas Press or at Amazon. Bentley’s poems have appeared in Able Muse, Rattle, Blackbird, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council.