THIS IS HOW I MAKE MY MONEY
Every time a possible employer called me
in response to a resume I had submitted, they
would awkwardly ask, “and when are you available
for an interview?” And I had to
casually say back, “oh, anytime,” as if it was
No Big Deal. You see, No Big Deal behavior is
actually similar to a duck walking splay-legged
to the edge of a pond. Oh, I’ll get there,
and I will desperately pretend I can walk normally
the whole way. At this point I had been unemployed
for 4 months. I had periodically begged, stripped
and even gotten embroiled in a weird business attempt
with a covert religious fanatic. No Big Deal
had become harder and harder to muster.
I once had been so out of my mind with hunger
that I had laughed and under my breath said
I WANT TO DIE when the phone interviewer asked me
what my qualifications were. I had hummed and
growled and lost track of words while
talking about my useless degrees.
The night after the last growl, I began
the process to trademark No Big Deal.
Because nine out of ten people in my
city lived in poverty. Because even the county
office had no charity shoes left for me
and I had been poking around barefoot.
The day I patented No Big Deal, I got a phone call
from a lawyer saying, “hey son, I saw your idea,
let’s talk.” And I barked and growled,
I had no more use for human sounds.
But No Big Deal flew off the shelves,
people recognized it right away like a
memory. A woman in a store used
No Big Deal when she smiled at me,
slipped the rubbery new shoes on my
feet. I began to speak again, and again, at shows
and then arenas. “No Big Deal,” I said
into a microphone and the crowd
roared back at me, years of nostalgia
bubbling up. But they wanted to buy it,
they wanted to hold No Big Deal in their
hands all wrapped up, like it was new.
“How are you feeling?” asked the
big-headed woman on the television show
and I relaxed backward in the velvet chair,
making sure to show my wrists and the big
watch there. “No Big Deal,” I repeated
and she nodded and the audience nodded
and I wondered what I had done.
—from Rattle #74, Winter 2021
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist
Heather Bell: “I am a six-foot-tall white-haired monster. There are exactly 31 jars in my home. Inside these jars are bones. I write not often at all, because writing is dangerous. I have children and these children are also monsters. But because monsters are what will lead us, this is completely fine. Hello. This is what a monster tells you: hello. Keep reading.”