Burn After Marring

Photo by John Staughton

In splatters of oil—hot wax covering the body from head-to-toe, and you still work reception without screaming—the lamplight badly hitting your shorts or movie star shoes—burn after wearing. Burn after marring. (Burn after first sign of a mistake.)

We need no marks or blemishes. Use everything once and toss it to the brains in the gutter choked with leaves and butts and leaves. Leave it there to be forgotten. Find something new and adapt that as your own personal fad. It’s better that way. There are no personal stories here—only a heap of clothes and metal: that is to say, jean jackets plagued by mucus and scars—overworn and juicy. Burn it. Ditch it. (Can it and sell it.) It’s marred.

We have no use for the hair dye box you used and then subsequently questioned for four months before crying and tearing at your arms and finally running down the cul de sac (channeling your ten-year-old self) threatening to kill yourself with a tiny, rust-filled pocket knife you probably stole from your father: irrelevant. Far from use. Don’t use it. Forget it. Fuck joy. Fuck beds. Fuck the bread you made with your mother last December. Or the vegan food you found it the goddamn encyclopedia. Or the meat fest you over-salted with your cousins in risqué cigarette haze on the balcony.

Smoke at the table and horrify your extended family. Burn after wearing—no, marring. Marring is wearing and wearing is tearing is marring is to burn it so no one can see.

Put that hat on once and incinerate it. Tell yourself you don’t need Brian John hair—that that tome of ridiculousness has passed. (It reminded us of a book, after all.) Bail on it. Art is consumption. That’s not art. Art is a big wheel. Or a tunnel of hate. Or copyright infringement. Throw it in the trash. A hat is not art. You are not art. Your mess isn’t art. Nothing is art unless you—unless you—give this shit-hole of a parking lot a taste of don’t turn right. Expel everything. Expel excellence. Expel education and teaching and thought: the job you should be looking for tomorrow.

Write a blog instead. (The pinnacle.) Ruin satire. Ruin every poem you’ve ever attempted, gotten published, or kept because you thought you’d submit it later. (All work ever.)

Don’t watch movies—or, for Christ’s sake, make them. Don’t make Harry Potter or Raging Bull or When Calls the Heart or Tuck Everlasting or Hidalgo or Spirited Away or 12 Monkeys or Legend or Star Wars or The Godfather or—spit at it—spit at it and don’t mark it—like rubber in games. Signs on the material plain. Ethereal cacophonies of cartoon daydreams. (Oh, brother—burn that suit after your interview.) Kill it. Eat it. Shit it out. It’s, say it with us: marred.

Digest chandeliers. Digest bushes. Digest mountaintops. Digest Romeo and Juliet. Digest toasters. Digest taste itself and utterly misuse it in the pursuit of that which we believe tickles our organs best. And forget about those too—too many stains: bodies, rags, toilets, bedsheets, showers, grass patches, back seats, and irons. Forget about satire. And the Fender Rhodes organ nobody can afford. Stratocasters. Ghost trains. Rings of graces. Races. Rhyme as a concept. All of your clothes if they have ever once received one single mark or blow. (Even that jacket that we looked for for hours at my insistence even though you found it in one minute and wore for the rest of our sweet time.) Time. Time. Time wears everything anyway. So fuck it up. Burn it all. Throw it out. Throw out art if it leaves a mark—and don’t bat an eye.

Then burn after tearing up. Tears stain, too.