Will Ryan lives in Monroe, Louisiana (USA). He studies English as an undergraduate
at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and works as a substitute teacher for public
elementary schools. He was a scholarship recipient of the 2021 New York State
Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College.


Anyone in their right mind knows how much
their wrong mind sparkles. In aluminum foil
that's tough to puncture I wrap mine & then

make a wish. Now it's clear that the shape of
myself was not left behind in clouds I passed
through in a flash for twenty rock solid years.

Like the ball of space between magnets I hold
just to feel them repel, things I have forgotten
along the way move in every direction at once,

I'm sure. Asking my arms, which are both left
arms extended before me, to reach around the
world, I hesitate like always. Just to tap me on

the back of my right shoulder, they make it all
the way around. The two things I'd bet the rest
of my dreams on are conjoined: ½ of reality &

the other half—reality wobbling like a clarinet's
blue note played underwater. As if composing
an outward spiral, thinking and not thinking of

stopping, I exist, and because I exist, an orange
tornado of flashbacks rises from ninety percent
of flames burning at this moment, the other ten

percent of flames are what you see if you close
your eyes. And because I exist, I've got no idea
what any of this means. What am I to do then,

but arrive at the only possible conclusion: that
it's my mouth continuing to open until I'm gone—
swallowed whole—that causes my mouth to close

so I'm whole again. On & on like this, even after
I witness the colorful zeroes that trail a body as it
drops headfirst from music—a requisite learning

experience for my mouth to stop this behavior, it
must be. At peak speed of lightning, a body drops
through its name, then forever through the follow-

ing sentence. While experiencing shock after shock,
trauma after trauma, you must memorize
why one spine isn't equal to

one but to millions. Millions of black
and white photographs, when sliding against the
idea of creation being unable to escape creation,

have nothing to say. The zebra, yes, the fucking
zebra, of my zigs and fucking zags, leads a huge
parade of scratch marks through our small city,

where dirt flashes like it's gone crazy, where the
minute hand of an increasingly small, but-never-
to-fully-disappear clock generates dirt's flashing.

So, I'm asking you, you being someone out there,
anyone at all, how could I not assume history to
be the incorrect quotient of every shade of pure

black divided by the number of people we lost?
When am I going to hear from you is what I am
thinking, what I'm doing is sipping a tunnel I just

exited through a glimmering, dark straw.

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