folie à deux


There is a robin nesting in your throat. You smoke instead of speaking,
confuse scare quotes with “air quotes,” Montaigne with Montague.
You are still a dowager, even if your toe is broken. There is humor
in this, even if you refuse to laugh. You wear a hat to conceal hair
loss, cry instead of screaming. You speak to customers in plaintive tones
and find them attracted to your loss, find that sorrow is a turn-on for
everyone but yourself. The prayer flags are balled-up in the frontseat, their
faded scrim looking up at you with the expectation of memory. You are riven.
The gaslight is on. You remember your mother’s stories of magic and Indian
blood when you were five. How the fleas would crawl out of the coffee-scented
blankets while you slept. You remember what it felt like when you realized she
saved the biggest lie for last, what it’s like to have nothing to cling to—

               to be fatherless,
               tucked in without lullaby.


I am depressed. Everyone tells me that your new boyfriend looks exactly like me,
as if that is supposed to be a consolation. He is better looking than me

and I am vain enough for that to be painful. My right pinky periodically goes numb.
3 months passed before anyone told me that a car crash prevented you

from kidnapping our cat. George says that’s funny, but not funny ha-ha. I am
entertaining the notion of shaving my beard, taking up trepanation

as a hobby. I recognized my depression as depression at 5 AM, waking in Ben and
Joana’s backyard, covered in vomit. My gut is still jackknifed. Outside a

prone flitch of maple seems at home covered in snow. I am bad at being alone,
summoning the urgency to do dishes. I am trying to abstain from

social media, say: this is just the body watching its own death. And if it isn’t,
it’s still better to think of it that way. I am optimistic even in defeat,

fold my palms like I am closing the Sefer HaMavet. It’s a new year, I’ll shower,
write my name in the book of life, my resolutions in the fogged mirror:

                  Let love be your ablution. Harrow your blinds.
                  Cuff your wrists. Cast yourself as what you would be.
                  Let yourself break into something better.

David Joez Villaverde is the winner of Black Warrior Review's 2018 poetry contest. His poems in Crab Fat Magazine and L'Éphémère Review are 2018 Best of the Net nominees. He has been recently published in Yemassee, RHINO Poetry, The Indianapolis Review, and Yes Poetry. Visit him at

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