“Upgrades” by Troy Jollimore

Troy Jollimore


I don’t love you anymore.
I’ve been working on learning to love myself.
My therapist is helping me with this.
Also, I’m in love with my therapist.
Her method includes wearing a very short skirt
and sitting with her legs apart
while we talk about my unreasonable childhood,
the friends who betrayed me, the various pets
that mocked me and abandoned me.
I don’t want to live forever anymore,
only until the next Super Bowl,
which is when my subscription to Cat Fancy expires.
I no longer want to own things, I want them
to stream through the universe like spirits,
immaterial invisible rainbows
that live everywhere and nowhere all at once.
I no longer want to write the Great American Novel,
or the pretty good Canadian essay,
or the tolerable Norwegian short short story,
or the shitty haiku of unknown nationality.
I’d just like to write a decent suicide note.
My last attempt read Don’t forget
to feed Snuffy, which hit more or less the right tone
but wasn’t quite pithy enough to make it into
Best American Suicide Notes 2017.
I hear they’re developing a bomb
that disappears the people completely but leaves
the UPC codes intact. I hear
the new administration is going to replace
the sky with a massive flat screen TV.
I just hope that we can all agree
on what we want to watch.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

[download audio]


Troy Jollimore: “Like many of my poems, ‘Upgrades’ went through a variety of iterations before finally finding its form. I’m not sure that anything from the initial draft is still in the final version, in fact, except that there was something about a therapist in there. At a certain point I found myself writing it line by line, starting in about the middle; I would wait until each line was right, then wait until I got a sense (from wherever one gets these things) of what the next line should be. Then I went back to the start, found the correct first line, and wrote it line by line until the two sections met up. Each poem teaches you how to write it, and it seems like there is a different method for each one. Actually, I guess in its final form the poem preserves one other thing from the initial draft, which is that it was clear from the beginning—as is the case in a lot of my poems—that it was important, for some reason, that many of the poem’s claims be false. There should be a sense that the speaker is unreliable, that he is not living up to the grand spiritual claims he is making, which I hope comes across. Because, you know, I do still want to live forever. And I do still want to write the Great American Novel. And I do still want to own things; I can’t seem to get away from that. And that first line—I mean, I suppose it depends on just who it’s addressed to—but I’m pretty sure that that’s false, too.”

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