"The Oblique Romantic" by Forrest Roth

Published: Dec. 16, 2016

The Oblique Romantic

 

The variety of passers-by all hot and sexy for being nameless is not rich, though here in West Virginia alone I purport seventeen documented types, including Lappers. No state agency can correctly identify the first and last ones, however. Those are left to my own devices. They took days to help. Which is why I enjoy being haughty and overrated and ruined asphalt patches over cobblestones simultaneously. Please save me saving them all. In the official version of events, shame led me astray from true love. Candles also have a confused end never burned regardless of the impersonal threat of idiosyncratic winter. Knowing that: Do I tell people how cold it has to be outside before someone considers dying of exposure. When you have me arrested later, you'll know it wasn't worth the proposition vote you stayed at home for. Hey. I mean you shouldn't be paying attention right now.

*

Endlessly I get myself best, I tell an unrated extended version of her (I suppose), wanting to thank everyone who helped though with a few choice names left off because, she notes with coy precision, I'm a big goddamn asshole who makes her fucking cry so fuck you okay. I had written once in an overmarked college textbook, Our concerns must be larger than ourselves. Theory: I think I pulled a simple grudge with this noise well behind me. My unintended victims can be identified at the grisly forensic scene from idiomatic degree of limp smiles. To scale back local murder rates, more therapy sessions should be held in basements; that way, there would be humorous consequences to acting stand-offish. Theory: The rules of engagement, as they must apply to all perceptions that are inherently false at the start, lead to no real engagements. If this follows, I will have no recourse from studying her anti-domestic dialectic on a weather-beaten porch swing. She's in a league above or below me. Don't matter which, y'all.

*

Listening to her describe description makes me a greedy patient of my own disreputable philosophies. As the ornate nature of detail itself renders nothing at all, I will at least have semblance behind her—a sunset, for instance. The random angry populist mob descending from the alley takes me calm, then. What I promise to them upon my safe return give its first mediocre symphony in the shuttered downtown amphitheater: just another failed teenage prodigy. I scoop her up with hands while I can. They are a challenge to find. Someone asks for a moment of your time and you'll always know them by sight afterwards. Trains keep derailing with an impassive shrug. Photos of each crash scene demand carrying my pace along a current that the Ohio discarded out of boredom. I know I shouldn't live this small among the flames. How fucking lovely, she says.

*

That little works as it should anymore has the fearsome nostalgia of a fictional war-cry. House numbers are lost in the unsafe dark. Prodigal sons buried without jokes attached to the ironic eulogy. A new park opens next to another park; no one gets to decide which is better. Rambling replaces the essential discourse of speculating. Let me have an idea: To speak henceforth to her is to pretend. Cleaning up from the flood that devastated this town in the 1930's will take some time but this is our home and nothing can make us leave it. Approving wink from an airplane passenger far above in business class is also a regional commodity built on mutual trust, entrepreneurial initiative, and cooperation with goodwill charities. Tell me you can't see it. Go ahead.

*

Babies abandoned outside, swallowed whole by rabid ferals. Neither traveling very fast saves the governor much embarrassment in the run-off. How epidemics work: An intersection of casual negligences and oh look how cute is this. At present I prefer keeping her safe from them because it sounds about right. This wasn't my backyard when it could've been my backyard. Hear one door, try the next. Sameness becomes pedantry avoiding similarity. No one is going home with a brave handjob tonight. Around every corner is another every corner so get a clue already, shitheel. Why ruin perfectly good explanations for lost privilege. Save those to defend your famous self. Even I can fabricate the words from a letter I wrote, down to the day I failed to send it.

*

After safe dark, with her sleeping the pretend sleep, that long long walk in one the parks can fetishize me for the strain of my imaginary greatness not performing. Often I expect to find blithe, fooling couples emulating Emily Dickinson, others exulting the vital warmth of friendly poultry, a cheap suicide hanging from the footbridge with an unused condom in his back pocket. But I don't enjoy it. Any of it. Jesus, they're all just like me occasionally. Mark well where inappropriate laughter keeps at bay for the presumed break-up. I, too, am forever turning imminent, but good luck being scattered over the place when too sober and not as alone as I require. It still surprises me that my grave could be so shallow, Em. The animus of a certain path may prop up my resolve, though will it put me where I should be with you. Such as under a cornice. Right. I remember, as a child does, how only obscenity accomplishes itself the easiest.

---

Forrest Roth received his English Ph.D. in Creative Writing from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marshall University in West Virginia. He is the author of a novella, Line and Pause (BlazeVOX Books), a prose poem chapbook, The Sullen Pages (Little Red Leaves), and a forthcoming novel, Gary Oldman Is A Building You Must Walk Through (What Books Press), which was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Noemi Press Book Award in Fiction. His work has also appeared in NOON, Denver Quarterly, Juked, Caketrain, Sleepingfish, NANO Fiction, The Collagist, and other journals.