by Selena Cotte
Selena Cotte is a writer and journalist living in Chicago but is originally from Orlando, Florida. Her poetry has previously appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Taco Bell Quarterly, and other publications. She received a bachelor's in poetry from Columbia College Chicago in 2017, and a master's in media and communication from DePaul University in 2020.
This poem was longlisted for the 2020 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge ALOK.
If I could temper the nostalgia I use as self-pity, I would
but instead, I gently cup it like bathwater: filthy and warm and hard to get a grip
of. In my past life (10 years ago), I was naive enough to know better,
living in some kind of now, scattering potential like birdseed at the entrance,
now, I’ve begun narrating even the present in sepia tones, making offhand reference
to the fall of Rome, metaphor as metaphor as metaphor,
I watch incels narrate roller coaster footage, I think of loop-de-loops and
Vauxhalls and Hitler’s invasions, I want to go to Disney World but Disney World is closed.
I can only play 4D chess with my recreational habits,
asking what is the context here, what is to be learned from this,
simulation as simulation as simulation, I have aestheticized the past but
I pledge allegiance to the falling republic.
I stay home for months reading the news,
I read online that my hometown will not fare well:
The first thing to go in a crisis is the obvious facade
so they~ can have more energy working on the others.
I remember a time when the audio animatronics at Sea World worked,
I remember going to “France” before getting a passport,
I remember writing in my journal all night and reading all day,
I remember ambition soon curtailed by fear,
I remember palm trees and love bugs and flip flops breaking at school,
I remember and it feels too warm slipping through my fingers.
I once read that theme parks are for those with no sense of irony
or an overactive one, and I’m the latter group, don’t get me wrong,
but there’s something about a town
with an upside-down mansion and pirate ships on every golf course
and animatronic sharks
and 3D Spider-Man
and mouse ear telephone poles
and mouse ear solar panels
and my bedroom painted pink
with a window full of opportunities
something about a town like that
that I just can’t have anymore.